In West Virginia, the penalties for a DUI (driving under the influence) conviction depend primarily on the number of prior convictions. This article covers the basics of West Virginia's DUI laws (including important definitions) and the consequences for a first, second, and third DUI conviction.
West Virginia prohibits anyone from driving while being in an "impaired state." An impaired state includes anyone:
The BAC limit is reduced to .04% if the licensee is driving a commercial vehicle and is reduced to .02% for drivers who are under 21 years old. However, offenders under the age of 21 (with a BAC of .02% or more but less than .08%) face reduced fines and jail time (as compared to a regular DUI) but will lose their license for 60 days and/or until at least 18 years old.
The ranges of allowable penalties depend, in large part, on how many prior convictions the offender has within the last 10 years. Convictions that are older than that, aren't counted.
For a first DUI in 10 years, the driver generally faces:
Any person subject to license revocation due to a first-offense DUI can apply for the Motor Vehicle Alcohol Test and Lock Program. If accepted, the driver will be able to avoid much of the revocation period by installing an ignition interlock device (IID).
If the driver produced a BAC under .15%, the revocation will be for 15 days, followed by a 120-day IID requirement. And if the driver produced a BAC of .15% or greater, the revocation will be for 45 days with a 270-day IID requirement. This program is not available for DUIs involving drugs.
Additionally, successful completion of the Motor Vehicle Alcohol Test and Lock Program can actually result in a DUI dismissal for those with no prior DUIs.
For a second DUI in 10 years, the driver generally faces:
A second DUI, like a first offense, is a misdemeanor.
For a third DUI in 10 years, the driver generally faces:
It's also important to note that a third DUI is considered a felony.
When a DUI involves serious bodily injury to another person, it is a felony and carries two to ten years in prison and $1,000 to $3,000 in fines.
Causes the death of another person is also a felony. Convicted motorists are looking at three to 15 years in prison and $1,000 to $3,000 in fines.
West Virginia's "implied consent" laws require all drivers lawfully arrested for a DUI to submit to a blood or breath test. After the arrest, the arresting officer will report the results to the state for license revocation.
If the driver submits to and fails the BAC test, the revocation period will be the same as for a DUI conviction (this revocation may be imposed even if the criminal charges are dismissed).
If the driver was placed under arrest and refused to submit to the officer's request for a BAC test, the driver's license will be revoked according to the following table.
A driver who's younger than 21 years old who operates a vehicle with a BAC of .02% to .08% can be convicted of an underage DUI.
A first-offense underage DUI is a misdemeanor and carries a $25 to $100 fine as well as a 60-day license suspension. A second underage offense is also a misdemeanor but carries $100 to $500 in fines and 24 hours in jail. For a second offense, the driver's license will also be suspended for one year or until the driver is 21 (whichever is longer).
A DUI charge in West Virginia can result in serious penalties. However, there are possibilities of deferring the conviction, reducing penalties, and possibly pleading to a lesser "wet reckless" charge. If you are charged with a DUI, it's best to consult with a qualified DUI lawyer about your options.