Most Virginians understand that drunk drivers face serious penalties, both legal and social. However, some do not recognize the severity of DUI charges and believe they should face even harsher punishment.
The reaction to a news story in which a woman fired a weapon at a suspected drunk driver serves as an example of the misguided sentiment towards DUI penalties. While the shooter currently faces charges, many read the story with a sense of wry amusement. The truth is Virginia statutes for drunk driving are tough even before a person tests as intoxicated.
Virginia has an implied consent law. What that means is that by virtue of driving on Virginia’s highways, you consent to testing after a DUI arrest. If a person refuses this test, the state of Virginia will suspend their license for one year.
The one-year suspension for refusing the test is for a first offense. For second offenses, you will lose your license for 3 years. And that is all before a DUI conviction.
So, just how strict are Virginia’s DUI laws?
People convicted of drunk driving offense face:
- Extended license suspension, permanent in some cases
- Fines up to $1000
- 6 months to a year in jail
The law reserves the most extreme penalties for those with multiple DUI convictions.
The human fallout of DUI arrests
There is a definite stigma attached to those convicted of — or merely arrested for — drunk driving. DUI charges are hot-button topics, and people have often justified feelings over them. But strong feelings are not an excuse to pursue an injustice against a person.
A DUI charge is just that: a charge. It is not a conviction. You may have been arrested for driving drunk, but that is different from being guilty of it. This is why it’s important to find representation who will fight for you as hard as possible.