Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol / Driving While IntoxicatedThis guide
This Guide discusses the general description of DUI/DWI, penalties and possible defenses
Misdemeanor and Traffic Cases such as DUI/DWIUsually after being charged with a traffic offense you will be issued a summons to appear in court. For some traffic offenses you may actually be taken into custody such as in the case of a DWI. If you are released on a summons and not taken into custody your first appearance in the court will be for trial. There are some exceptions to this rule. In accident cases and in some other instances there may be a requirement for a second appearance. Otherwise, your first appearance will be for the purpose of entering a plea or to conduct a trial. If the court finds you guilty there will be a penalty imposed which may involve a fine and court costs and could involve the imposition of jail depending on the nature of the offense. The maximum fine in this court is $2500.00. The maximum jail that can be given on each offense is 12 months. In addition there are court costs that must be paid and can not be
waived by the court. If you have been incarcerated as a result of an offense you will be taken to the magistrate after your arrest where the magistrate has the option of releasing you on your promise to appear in court, or, you may be given a bond that must be paid to ensure your appearance in court. The magistrate also has the option of refusing to issue a bond in which case you will be kept in jail until you appear for an arraignment before a judge who will set a bond and conditions for your release. Usually arraignments are set for the next court date after your arrest. The case will then follow the same procedure as if you had been released on a summons. There are situations where the magistrate and the judge refuse to set a bond for your release. In these cases you have a right to appeal your bond to the Circuit Court to try and reverse this decision.
DUI/DWI-What it is, penalties and defensesThere is no difference in Virginia between these two offenses, they are simply two separate names for the same offense. Any blood alcohol content (BAC) above .08 is considered presumptively intoxicated as well as certain amounts of illegal drugs and in some cases even legally prescribed drugs. Because these offenses have gotten the attention of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) and other organizations, the legislature has drastically increased the penalties for these offenses in recent years. DUI/DWI is a class one misdemeanor with maximum penalties of up to one year in jail, up to a $2500 fine, enrollment and completion of the Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP) and a one year loss of license. You may or may not receive a restricted license by the judge. In addition if your BAC is between .15 and .20 there are additional penalties including a mandatory five (5) day jail sentence and the requirement of an Interlock Device to be installed in your car before a restricted license is issued. For a BAC above .20 there is additional jail time of ten (10) days. These penalties are enhanced even further if this is a second offense, and on a third or subsequent offense the matter is elevated to a felony with significantly more severe penalties. There are a number of defenses to this charge, and each case requires individual attention to the specific facts involved. Among some of the major defenses are the legal reason for the stop, probable cause for the arrest, proper testing of breath or blood, field sobriety testing, DWI checkpoints and others. These are not straight forward issues that can easily be handled without the benefit of an attorney. In many cases this charge can be successfully defended, reduced or otherwise amended to improve the outcome. It is highly recommended that a person charged with this offense at the very least consult with a qualified attorney who regularly handles these type of cases.