Impaired Driving

There are five ways to violate Virginia's DUI law; 1) operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol level above 0.08;  2) operating a vehicle while "under the influence" of alcohol; (3) operating a vehicle while "under the influence" of drugs;  4) operating a vehicle while "under the influence of both alcohol and drugs; and 5) operating a vehicle with a blood cocaine level of 0.02, a blood methamphetamine (“speed,” “meth,” “ice”) level of 0.10, a blood phencyclidine (“PCP,” “angel dust”) level of 0.01, or a blood 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (“MDMA,” “ecstasy”) level of 0.10.

Before being arrested, a person may submit to a preliminary breath test, if one is available. This test cannot be used against that individual at trial, but can be used against him/her during pretrial motions and other non-DUI charges. There is no penalty for refusing this preliminary breath test and the arresting officer has to advise an individual of this.

The punishment for violations of DUI varies depending upon whether the offense is a first, second, or subsequent offense. It also depends upon whether the blood alcohol level exceeded certain amounts or whether a child was in the car at the time of the arrest. A DUI conviction can be either a misdemeanor or a felony.

In some instances, the court must require an individual convicted of DUI to install an "ignition interlock" device on their car. This is a breath test device that one must blow into in order to start the car, and to blow into when directed to do so by the device while driving.

If convicted of DUI, driving privileges in Virginia will be lost for one year. A second conviction results in a three-year loss. A third conviction results in an indefinite loss (5 years minimum). Under certain circumstances, a court can permit an individual to have limited driving privileges (such as driving to and from work).

Those convicted of DUI must enter and complete an alcohol education program administered by the state.

To learn more, read the full law.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2010, more than 10,000 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes – which represents one fatality every 51 minutes in America.

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