Many Virginia drivers will be stopped by local or federal police at some point in their lives. Even as a first offense, a DUI is a serious offense with mandatory penalties and other life-long consequences in Virginia.
Remember, your blood alcohol level doesn’t have to be at or above the minimum required level for you to be charged. Certain behaviors are sufficient to convict someone for DUI. But if an experienced Roanoke criminal defense lawyer fights for you, you might secure your freedom and protect your rights.
How is “Impaired” Driving Defined in Virginia?
If it’s the first time you are charged with DUI in Virginia, it is important to understand what meets the criminal threshold. In Virginia, partaking in alcohol and drugs at levels that can impair your physical and mental abilities is outlawed. You can be arrested if the substances have affected your:
- General appearance
- Muscular movement
In an attempt to have you convicted, the prosecution will try to link the legal definition of impairment with your behavior before the arrest. Police officers can testify about seeing the driver:
- Having trouble balancing
- Leaning on objects for support
- Swaying while standing or walking
- Slurring speech
- Speaking incoherently or slowly
Developing a strategic defense is instrumental in combating Virginia DUI charges. However, if the evidence of the DUI is overwhelming, the strategy for sentencing may be to convince the judge to give you the least possible penalties. Talk to a DUI attorney in Roanoke, Virginia, as soon as you are arrested.
Can One Be Successfully Charged Even if They Weren’t Driving?
Many people think they can only be arrested and charged for DUI if they are in a moving vehicle. But that is not the case in Virginia because the law forbids both driving and operating a motor vehicle in an intoxicated state. The “operating” aspect confuses many people, but it can be as simple as having the keys in the ignition and being seated behind the wheel.
You could even be just sitting in your car and listening to the radio and still get arrested for DUI. People have also been arrested when stuck somewhere with no hope of getting out. Also, grabbing the wheel at any point, when someone else is driving may be as good as being in control of the vehicle and enough to bring you DUI charges.
Make sure that you explain your exact circumstances to your Roanoke DUI attorney. Knowing how you were arrested is critical in formulating the most appropriate defense strategy. Remember that a one-size-fits-all approach has never produced winning cases.
What are the Penalties for a First DUI in Virginia?
Despite the first DUI being a Class 1 misdemeanor, the penalties are quite harsh. If convicted in Virginia, you risk the following:
- Up to a year in jail
- Up to $2,500 in fines
- A mandatory minimum fine of $250
- Mandatory drivers’ license revocation for up to a year
- Mandatory jail for certain blood alcohol levels
- Increased insurance premiums
- Mandatory alcohol education classes at your expense
- Ignition interlock device at your expense
- 6 points on your driver’s license
- Up to 50 hours of community service for underage drivers
- Minimum of 5 days in jail and additional fines if you had a passenger below 18 years
All these penalties may be avoidable if you invest in a good defense team like the Law Office of Seth C. Weston. Jail terms, fines, and license revocation can ruin your life, especially if your job depends on your ability to drive legally. And losing your freedom could affect your loved ones and change your life for good.
How Long Will My First DUI Stay in Your Record?
Many drivers are concerned about how long their DUI will stay on their record in Virginia. Unfortunately, this first incidence of DUI remains on the driver’s criminal record for life. However, it won’t stay on your driver’s license record for life. But you will have to wait for 11 years to have it removed. However, you may be able to avoid a conviction and keep your record clean by hiring the right DUI defense attorney who can prevent this.
Can a DUI be Reduced to “Wet Reckless”?
A seasoned attorney is knowledgeable enough to know when it is impossible to get a “not guilty” verdict. Instead of proceeding straight to trial, they may be able to negotiate a less punitive outcome and resolve the case without a trial. “Wet reckless” is a less punitive charge and can relieve you of extreme consequences of DUI charges.
A “wet reckless” charge could mean that you plead guilty to reckless driving with some additional punishments, such as license suspension and attending VASAP. The best outcomes depend on your decisions and hiring the right defense lawyer.
How Long Should I Wait Before Hiring a Defense Lawyer?
Virginia is among the states where cases move really fast across the system. And for DUI cases, time is of great essence. In most cases in Roanoke, Virginia, the trial date for your DUI will be set within about two months from the day you are charged.
So, delaying the decision to involve a DUI attorney in Roanoke, Virginia, can handicap your defense. A good defense attorney needs time to formulate and build a good defense. Rushing to pick any random attorney without a proper background check isn’t ideal. Time is ticking fast, and your fate lies on who you choose to represent you on your first DUI in Virginia.
An Aggressive Drunk Driving Defense Team On Your Side
A first DUI charge shouldn’t be taken lightly because it can set the tone for your future driving-related convictions in Virginia. Delaying or avoiding your first DUI conviction may be beneficial to your finances and personal life because you want to keep your insurance premiums where they currently are and keep your freedom too. However, sooner or later the case must be resolved in court and you will need the services of an experienced DUI defense lawyer.
Talk with a seasoned DUI lawyer who will guide you through the Virginia criminal court system. Seth C. Weston, Esq, is a seasoned DUI defense lawyer who has the experience to fight for you and challenge the charges filed against you. Get in touch with us today to speak to someone who will aggressively advocate on your behalf.