The penalties for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Virginia generally depend on how many priors the driver has. This article covers Virginia's DWI laws and the penalties for a first DWI conviction.
Virginia's DWI laws prohibit operating a vehicle:
In other words, you can be convicted based on actual impairment or the concentration of alcohol or drugs in your body.
A DWI is considered a first offense if the driver has no prior DWI convictions within the past ten years. Priors that occurred more than ten years ago generally don't count.
The penalties for a first-offense DWI are set by statute. Certain circumstances, such as minor passengers and a high BAC can increase these penalties.
A first DWI (driving while intoxicated) conviction is a misdemeanor in Virginia.
Low BAC. A first-offense DWI carries a maximum of one year in jail. For most offenders, there's no minimum jail term.
BAC of .15%. Offenders with a BAC of at least .15% but less than .20% will serve a minimum of five days before being eligible for probation.
BAC of .20%. An offender with a BAC of .20% or more must serve at least ten days in jail prior to being eligible for release on probation.
Underage passengers. For offenses involving passengers under 18 years old, the judge will tack on an additional five days to the offender's jail sentence.
Every person convicted of a first DWI must complete the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP). The participant will first submit to a drug and alcohol evaluation. Based on the results of the evaluation, the VASAP may include treatment or 20 hours of drug and alcohol classes.
A person convicted of a first DWI faces fines of $250 to $2,500, plus court costs. The VASAP will also cost the driver $250 to $300. An offender with a juvenile passenger must pay an additional $500 to $1,000 fine. A first DWI also comes with a number of hidden costs, such as attorney fees and increased insurance rates.
A first DWI can be a felony in Virginia only if the offense involved serious injuries or deaths.
Generally, a DWI arrest will result in license-related penalties.
A DWI can result in multiple driver's license penalties, starting with an immediate seven-day license suspension if the driver had a BAC of at least .08%. A DWI conviction carries a one-year license suspension in addition to the 7-day suspension. And drivers who violate the state's implied consent laws will face additional suspension time.
Drivers who are enrolled in or have completed the VASAP are immediately eligible for a restricted license. This license authorizes travel to and from work, school, and medical treatments during the suspension period. The restricted license requires the holder to install and maintain an ignition interlock device (IID) on all vehicles he or she drives. The driver must maintain the IID for at least six months without any restriction violations.