In West Virginia, a first-time conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) is generally a misdemeanor. Convicted motorists face a fine, license suspension, and possible jail time. However, the circumstances surrounding the DUI can greatly affect the outcome. The following are possible outcomes and penalties resulting from a first-offense DUI in West Virginia.
In West Virginia, you can be convicted of a DUI for operating a vehicle:
In other words, you can be convicted for being actually impaired or having an excessive amount of alcohol in your system.
A DUI is considered a first offense in West Virginia if the driver has no prior DUI convictions that occurred within the past ten years. In other words, prior DUI convictions that occurred more than ten years ago aren't counted.
While judges have some discretion in deciding what an offender's sentence should be, West Virginia has minimum penalties that can't be suspended or avoided through a sentence of probation.
Standard first DUI. Generally, a first-offense DUI can lead to a maximum of six months in jail. But there's no minimum jail time, meaning the judge doesn't have to include any jail time in the defendant's sentence.
Excessive BAC. If the driver had a BAC of .15% or greater, there's a two-day mandatory minimum for a first DUI conviction.
Standard first DUI. A person who's convicted of a first DUI typically faces $100 to $500 in fines, plus court costs. (However, the costs of a first DUI are generally more than just the fine totals.)
Excessive BAC. If the driver's BAC was .15% or greater, the fines for a first DUI are $200 to $1,000.
A first DUI conviction will generally lead to license suspension. However, drivers generally have options available to minimize the suspension time.
Generally, a West Virginia first DUI will result in a six-month license revocation.
Drivers can apply to participate in the state's "Motor Vehicle Alcohol Test and Lock Program." If accepted, the driver will only be subject to a 15-day revocation period followed by 120 days with an ignition interlock device (IID).
For program participants who had a BAC of .15% or greater, the revocation period is 45 days, followed by 270 days with an IID. (Since the IID tests BAC, drivers whose convictions involved drugs or other controlled substances are not eligible for the Motor Vehicle Alcohol Test and Lock Program.)
Pursuant to West Virginia's implied consent laws, all persons who drive in the state are deemed to have consented to BAC testing. Drivers who refuse testing will be subject to tough penalties.
The first time a driver refuses to submit to a BAC test, his or her license will be revoked for one year. Application to the Motor Vehicle Alcohol Test and Lock Program can reduce the revocation period to 45 days, followed by a one-year IID requirement.
The above-stated penalties are for the most common types of DUIs. However, different circumstances can result in different penalties.
The penalties for first DUI can be greatly increased if the driver had a minor in the car, was a habitual drug user, or caused an injury accident or the death of another person. A DUI that results in the death of another person could also lead to vehicular homicide charges.
The penalties for a first-time DUI can also be reduced or eliminated via the deferral process.
For first-offense DUIs, the court can actually pause the proceedings to see if the driver can successfully complete the Motor Vehicle Alcohol Test and Lock Program. Successful completion of the program's 15-day revocation period, 165-day IID requirement, and DUI educational program can result in the DUI being completely dismissed.
Deferred prosecution is available only to drivers who have never been previously arrested for DUI.
If you've been arrested for driving under the influence in West Virginia, it's a good idea to talk to a DUI lawyer. DUI law is complicated and the facts of each case are different. A qualified DUI attorney can tell you how the law applies to your case and help you decide on the best course of action.