A first DWI (driving while intoxicated) conviction is a misdemeanor in Virginia. A DWI is considered a first offense if the driver has no prior DWI convictions within the past ten years. First offenders typically face up to a year of jail, fines, probation, and license suspension. This article discusses the specific penalties you'll face if convicted of a first DWI in Virginia.
The penalties for a first-offense DWI are set by statute. Certain circumstances, such as minor passengers and a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) can increase these penalties.
Jail time. A first-offense DWI carries a maximum of one year in jail. For most offenders, there's no minimum jail term. However, offenders with a BAC of at least .15% but less than .20% will serve a minimum five days before being eligible for probation. 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. For offenses involving passengers under 18 years old, the judge will tack on an additional five days to the offender's jail sentence.
Treatment. 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.
Fines. 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 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.