Most motorists are well-aware that it’s unlawful to operate a motor vehicle when your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is in excess of the legal limit as stated in Virginia’s statue on Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). You’re probably generally familiar with the penalties that you may face if you’re convicted on drunk driving charges, including imprisonment, suspension of your driver’s license, fines, court costs, and others. What you may not know is that there’s more to a DUI than being above or below the legal limit. There are additional laws that apply if your BAC is excessively high, so some of your punishment may be even harsher for a conviction.
If you were arrested for drunk driving with a high BAC, it’s essential to retain a Virginia DWI/DUI defense lawyer right away. There may be strategies to avoid the tougher sanctions but, without a legal background, you may not know how to use them to your advantage. Still, an overview may help you understand the basics.
Overview of Enhanced Penalty DUI Cases: The legal BAC level in Virginia is .08 percent, for which you could be sentenced to jail up to one year and fines ranging from $250-$2,500; your driving privileges will also be suspended for 12 months. Virginia’s statute on the penalties for a DUI creates different sentencing for excessive BAC cases:
- If your BAC is .15 to .19 percent, you’re subject to mandatory minimum imprisonment of five days, though a judge could increase this time period up to one year. Your fine falls within the same range as a normal DUI, but it’s likely that the court will lean closer to the $2,500 amount under the circumstances.
- For a BAC of .20 percent or above, the mandatory minimum is 10 days in jail. Again, the judge could sentence you up to 12 months’ incarceration.
Other Implications for High BAC Drunk Driving in Virginia: In addition to triggering more serious punishment, a DUI/DWI involving BAC higher than .15 percent also results in other potential consequences.
- The fine amount may reach $2,500, but there are additional court costs, fees, and legal costs related to a drunk driving case. According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, a DUI may cost from $5,000 to $20,000 to defend.
- One of the costs you’re required to pay is for the ignition interlock device you must install on your vehicle after your license suspension is complete. This device prevents your car from starting if it detects alcohol on your breath.
- If you’re convicted for high BAC drunk driving, you’re subject to a different legal limit once you get your license back. For three years following the date of conviction, you cannot drive with a BAC in excess of .02 percent. If you do and get caught, your case would be treated as a third high BAC DUI.
- In the event you cause an accident while driving with a high BAC, there could be implications if you’re sued in civil court. Evidence of the level at .15 percent or above constitutes “willful or wanton behavior,” potentially leading to higher monetary damages for the plaintiff.
Trust a Virginia DWI/DUI Defense Attorney to Protect Your Interests
Regardless of your BAC level when you’re facing drunk driving charges, you’ll need experienced legal representation to assist with your defense. At Leary Law, P.C., our team is well-versed in the strategies for obtaining a favorable outcome in a DUI case, so we’re prepared to fight for your rights. For more information on how we can help, please contact set up a consultation at our offices in Manassas or Fairfax, VA. We’ll be in a better position to advise you on your defense options after we review the details of your case.