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.
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. 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 probation.
Jail time. Generally, a first-offense DUI can lead to a maximum of six months in jail. However, if the driver had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .15% or greater, there are a minimum of two days in jail.
Fines. A person who's convicted of a first DUI typically faces $100 to $500 in fines, plus court costs. If the driver's BAC was .15% or greater, this fine increases to $200 to $1,000. (Learn more about the costs of a first DUI.)
Generally, a first-time DUI will result in a six-month license revocation. However, the driver may 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.
Enhancements. 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.
Deferred prosecutions. 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.