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How Can a DUI Charge Be Dismissed in Virginia?

— June 17, 2022

If it’s the first time you’re charged with DUI, you risk a fine of $250 and possibly a jail sentence, depending on your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) and the impression you make on the judge.

Halifax, VA – Facing a DUI charge in Virginia is not something to be taken lightly, not even if it’s your first offense and you can expect some leniency. What you need to understand is that even a first DUI is a Class 1 misdemeanor and, if convicted, it will stay on your record permanently. This may affect your chances of getting a good job in the future if that requires a background check, and it will trigger an increase in your insurance rates. If you’re facing a DUI charge, your best shot is to find yourself a smart Virginia criminal defense lawyer who may be able to have your case dismissed or, at least, reduced to reckless driving. Also, keep in mind that you don’t have much time. In most cases, your trial will be scheduled less than 2 months after your DUI arrest.

What are the penalties for DUI in Virginia?

If it’s the first time you’re charged with DUI, you risk a fine of $250 and possibly a jail sentence, depending on your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) and the impression you make on the judge. If your BAC is less than .15%, you might escape jail time. However, for a BAC between .15% and .20%, there’s a mandatory 5 days jail sentence, while over .20% the punishment is 10 days in jail.

For a second DUI offense, the fine goes up to $500 and you risk at least 10 days in jail, or 20 if your BAC is over .20%.

In case of a third DUI offense, you’ll pay at least $1,000 in fines. If the offense occurs within 10 years of the previous one, the mandatory minimum sentence is 90 days in jail. If it’s been only 5 years since your previous DUI arrest, you’re looking at a minimum of 6 months behind bars. 

How can I get my case dismissed?

Many drivers believe that refusing to take a breath test when they’re pulled over by the police might get them out of a DUI charge. The police won’t have actual proof I was drunk, right? Unfortunately for you, no Virginia judge will see it like that. On the contrary, your refusal to take a test will be seen as a sign of guilt. Also, your driver’s license will be suspended for 1 year in case of a first DUI conviction and three years for a second one.

Image of a law enforcement grade Breathalyzer
A law enforcement grade Breathalyzer; image courtesy of Agência Brasil via Wikimedia Commons,

If you get a DUI lawyer right away they will review your case to find the best possible defense. In many cases, seasoned Virginia DUI lawyers challenge the reasons why you were stopped by the police in the first place. If you were stopped without probable reason, that may qualify as illegal search and seizure and any proof obtained by means of it is inadmissible. Even if the police officers say you were weaving between lanes or you failed to signal a lane change, a knowledgeable lawyer can contradict their assertions and cast a doubt on the validity of their stop. 

If this sort of defense doesn’t work in your case, a skilled DUI lawyer will work with the prosecution to have the charges reduced to reckless driving. This carries a fine of $300 and a six-month suspension of your license, but this type of conviction can be expunged from your record so you won’t have to suffer the consequences of one mistake for the rest of your life. 

If you’re facing a DUI charge in Virginia, don’t waste any time and schedule a consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Trent Law Practice in Halifax.

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