While operating a boat, watercraft, or motor vehicle in the state of Virginia, if your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is higher than 0.08 percent you are considered to be driving under the influence (DUI). In some cases where your BAC is lower, you may still be charged with a DUI if you are unable to operate a motor vehicle properly. If you have been charged with a DUI in Virginia, contact the DUI Criminal Attorneys in Roanoke, VA today!

What Consists of a DUI in Virginia?

The Virginia Law states there are two different ways a driver could be charged with a DUI. These laws include:

  1.     DUI: Driving a motor vehicle and law enforcement believes you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  2.     DUI Per Se: Operating a motor vehicle and by a breath, blood, or urine test, your BAC is 0.08% or higher.

When a law enforcement officer believes you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they will have you go through a Field Sobriety Test (FST). This type of test would show the officer and prosecutor if you were under the influence even if your BAC is lower than 0.08%.

Virginia’s DUI Laws

In the state of Virginia, it is illegal for anyone to drive or operate a vehicle under the following conditions:

  •       Where drugs or alcohol affects their ability to operate a motor vehicle.
  •       BAC is 0.08% or higher or more than 0.08 grams or higher per 210 liters of breath on a breathalyzer test.
  •       Under the influence of any type of drug (legal or illegal)
  •       Under the combination of both drugs and alcohol that affects a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle.
  •       BAC levels are equal to or higher than the following:

o   0.01 milligrams of phencyclidine (PCP) per liter of blood

o   0.1 milligrams of methamphetamine (Meth) per liter of blood

o   0.1 milligrams of 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (Ecstasy) per liter of blood

o   0.2 milligrams of cocaine per liter of blood

While there are two different ways an individual in Virginia could get convicted of a DUI, the laws allow officers to arrest and convict any highly impaired person. This also goes for individuals who are using over-the-counter medications that alter a person’s ability to think clearly and operate a motor vehicle.

Legal Limits

Your BAC is the most common way a law enforcement officer will try to determine if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. There are different levels of a person’s BAC that could prove them to be impaired. These include:

  •       Over the age of 21: 0.08%
  •       Under the age of 21: 0.02%
  •       Commercial Drivers: 0.04%

Under the Age of 21

For someone under the age of 21 and has been convicted of a DUI can face the same penalties in Virginia, as someone who is over the age of 21. In Virginia if your BAC level is .02 – .07, you can be charged with the Under 21 DUI/Zero Tolerance penalty.

Zero Tolerance Law

The Zero Tolerance Law in the state of Virginia is to charge individuals under the age of 21 and who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol while driving. The Zero Tolerance law differs from the DUI laws in Virginia. These differences include:

  •       The legal limit for alcohol in the blood system for a minor is 0.02%. However, if a minor is found to have any traces of drugs or alcohol in their system, they can be charged with a DUI.
  •       The Zero Tolerance Law applies to minors only. This is for those decide to drink alcohol and operate a motor vehicle. The Zero Tolerance Law does not apply to those who are over the age of 21.
  •       Violating the Zero Tolerance Law, the penalty is often less than an actual DUI charge. The penalty can include community service or a $500 fine in addition to a license suspension.

Virginia DWI Penalties

Penalties for a DUI in Virginia are charged on a case by case basis. The penalty can differ depending on the prior convictions an individual has. Once you have been charged with a DUI, this conviction will stay on your record for ten years. Below is a list of possible charges an individual can face depending on their number of prior offenses.

1st Offense 2nd Offense 3rd Offense
Incarceration Up to 12 months 10 days – 12 months 90 days – 5 years
Occurred Fines $250 – $2,500 $500 – $2,500 $1,000 – $2,500
Suspended License 1 year 3 years Indefinitely
Ignition Interlock Device (IID) A minimum of 6-months as a condition of obtaining a “restricted license.” 6-month minimum 6-month minimum


Implied Consent and Refusing a Blood or Breath Test in Virginia

Virginia has an “implied consent” law that requires all drivers who are believed to be under the influence to submit a blood and/or breath test. However, in some cases, a driver will refuse to submit this test and can face a punishable charge. These charges are also based on the number of prior offenses.

1st Offense

2nd offense

3rd Offense

License Suspension

1 year

3 years

3 years

Contacting a DUI Criminal Attorney

Receiving a DUI charge can have multiple negative effects on a person’s life, job, family relations, their license, and receive many penalties and fines. Even if this is your first offense, you can look at losing your license for quite some time. However, if you have received multiple offenses, your charges are likely to be more intense.

After receiving a charge for a DUI, your time is of the essence. You need to take these charges seriously and investigate hiring a DUI attorney as soon as possible. If you want to fight to get your license back, you must hire a lawyer within five days of the charge. Also, a trial date for your conviction is typically two months from the date of your charges. This means, waiting any longer than two weeks could hinder your defense.

By speaking to an attorney sooner rather than later, you can see if you have the chance of reducing your sentence and possibly being able to keep your license.