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When a driver is arrested on drunk driving charges in Virginia, the penalties he or she will face are contingent on numerous factors. These factors will dictate such issues as the amount a fine will be, how long a driver's license will be suspended and the maximum jail sentence. The BAC level is important in determining what the penalties will be. A person who is confronted with these charges needs to know what's possible in the event of a conviction.

If a driver is convicted on a first-time DUI without any aggravating circumstances, the driver will be fined at least $250 and his or her license will be taken for one year. A second offense will result in a $500 fine, and the driver will not have a license for at least three years. The driver also faces potential jail time of one year. If there is a second offense within ten years of the previous offense, there will be a minimum of ten days in jail. A second offense that occurs less than five years after the prior offense will result in a mandatory twenty days in jail.

With three convictions for DUI in ten years, there will be a driver's license suspension for an indefinite period. With a third offense or a felony for driving under the influence, the driver will be fined a minimum of $1,000. The driver will continue with his or her life with a felony conviction but without a driver's license, as the license will be taken "indefinitely." A third offense within a five year period will lead to a minimum of six months in jail. A third offense within ten years will yield a minimum of three months in jail and the permanent confiscation of the vehicle. A fourth conviction for DUI will result in a minimum of one year in jail.

If the BAC is 0.15 percent above the legal limit and doesn't surpass 0.20 percent, the first offense will carry with it five days in jail. A second offense within ten years has a minimum ten days in jail. A BAC of above 0.20 percent or higher will have a ten-day term in jail for the first offense. A second offense will carry twenty days in jail. All other penalties listed above are applicable.

When there are drunk driving charges, the punishments can have a significant impact on a person's life. Because of that, it is imperative to formulate a strong defense with the help of an experienced legal professional.

Source: dmv.state.va.us, "DWI penalties," accessed on Jan. 18, 2015

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