Have you been convicted with a DWI? Do you understand the laws involved in driving while intoxicated? You may be asking, what are the possible penalties that you may face as well as your driver’s license? What does a DWI conviction in Virginia mean for you and your driving license? Will you be registered with a criminal record, and how long will your license be suspended or revoked? These are among the most common questions that our clientele experience, and we can gladly come in and help you face this hurdle.
In case you find yourself in such a predicament, or know someone that's experiencing these charges, then you need to act fast and seek consultation. These cases are critical and require fast action. Therefore, one needs to affirm the services of the experienced Virginia Criminal Attorney law firm for prompt assistance.
What is DWI?
DWI, which stands for Driving While Intoxicated. It is an offense or crime that involves an individual operating or driving an automobile or locomotive while impaired by intoxicating substances such as alcoholic beverages or other drugs. This may lead to one's ability to make decisions being compromised, thus making the individual incapable of guaranteeing the safety of personnel or property within or without the vicinity of the motor vehicle.
For that reason, the intoxicated driver poses a risk to not only the public but also to oneself. Such action may lead to devastating damages like accidents to passengers, pedestrians, other motorists, to mention a few. Thus, if you are a victim of intoxication and you find yourself in such a tight spot with law enforcement, seek the services of a Virginia criminal attorney. Aside from protecting you from the harsh judgment of the judge, our team works to fight for your rights.
DWI Driver's License Suspension in Virginia
Facing a DWI charge, especially in Virginia, is severe and thus requires prompt action. The defendant may incur several penalties based on the intensity of the case. In Virginia, a DWI conviction comes with numerous charges and penalties, which include fines, a compulsory intoxication safety education program, and in some instances, serving jail terms.
The severity of the case and, if any, a history of a criminal case may lead to the revocation of one's license.
That doesn't seem pleasant at all. On the other hand, you may be wondering, what if you obtained your driver’s license from a different state, can the state of Virginia revoke your permit? It may be difficult for them to withdraw it directly. However, you will be denied the privilege of driving or operating an automobile or any means of transport within the state. It's that serious.
Therefore if you only operate a boat and think you are excluded, you may need to seek an alternative of navigating from one end to the other. Even though their charges are different, the same rules and regulations apply. Therefore you need to be keen not to be caught on the wrong side of the law.
As soon as your driving license is suspended or revoked, you may need to use other means, such as buses, trains, Uber taxis, and other transportation, to travel to your various destinations. Unfortunately, the revoking of a driver’s license is a mandatory suspension by law. So even if both the lawyer and the judge decide that you should not be punished, you will still be suspended for 12 months. Unfortunately, even on the first offense, there's no way around that.
Ways in Which a Driver's License may be Suspended Due to DWI
A person is considered to be driving or operating a vehicle under the influence of intoxication when your blood contains a certain level of a toxic substance. This may be alcohol or any other drugs, as illustrated above. This law applies to all vehicles, ships, or any other private means of transport operators in Virginia. Moreover, having a driving license, especially in Virginia, is a privilege, not a right. Having this point in mind, you realize that you can quickly lose your driver’s license if you break the law.
One may lose his or her driver's license for several reasons. Failing to pay court fines and costs, being charged with certain criminal offenses, to mention a few are some of the reasons that top the list. In this article, we have set out the significant grounds that could result in the suspension of the driver’s license as a result of driving while intoxicated (DWI).
Defying Virginia's DWI Laws
The system used by the law enforcers to determine the intoxication is called a blood alcohol concentration, well known as BAC. As the name suggests, it is usually used to gauge the alcohol level in the blood system. Thus if you have a 0.08% or higher level, you are more likely to face the law.
However, this level depends on the driver or operator of the automobile. Later on, as the article progresses, you will gain knowledge about the various legal limits concerning blood alcohol concentration. A driver's license is more likely to be suspended due to a violation of DWI laws based on two notions:
- You will be arrested if you drive in a manner hazardous to the public. The arrest aims at determining whether you are under the influence of intoxication.
- The second law of DWI is known as driving with intoxication per se. This law involves determining the blood alcohol/toxic concentration level in the bloodstream of the driver. If you're driving, then a police officer pulls you over for a test, your level of intake must be below the 0.08 percent legal level. If the BAC results show 0.08 percent or more, you're likely to be charged for a violation of the law.
Generally, for these to be performed, the law enforcement officer indulges the driver in several tests known as Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs). These tests guide them to determine the sober level of the driver, checking if their decisions are impaired as a result of the substances used.
Legal Limits and the Varying BAC Levels
As explained above, blood alcohol concentration, well known as BAC, is a measurement used by the police officers to determine the intoxication level of the driver. This test is conducted to check whether the driver's ability to make decisions while operating or driving the automobile is sober. Aside from blood alcohol concentration, it makes use of various tests such as the FSTs.
According to Virginia's laws, a driver charged with a violation of DWI laws will face a penalty based on their intoxication level as well as their age. According to the Virginia code, the legal blood alcohol concentration percentages range as follows:
- Individuals aged 21 years or older who are caught driving while intoxicated with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent and above risk arrest.
- Drivers registered to operate commercial vehicles are not allowed to drive while intoxicated, as they pose a considerable risk to both their passengers and the public. As a result, their BAC level is strictly reduced to 0.04% and above.
- Underage drivers are also not left behind. The illegal blood alcohol concentration for persons under the age of 21 years is 0.02 percent and above.
Note that all levels of drivers are treated equally by law when caught in the act. If any driver listed above is found on the wrong or driving while intoxicated as a result of alcoholic content or drugs, then the penalties to be inflicted upon them will be harsh.
For example, if a person under the age of 21 caught driving while intoxicated at or above the BAC level of 0.08%, the penalties and charges likely to be imposed on him or her are similar to those of a person over 21 years old. The zero-tolerance policy will not apply in this scenario.
However, if the underage has a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.02 or 0.07 percent, respectively, then the defendant will face charges based on the Under 21 Zero tolerance penalty. Therefore, it is best at all times to seek advice from an experienced Virginia criminal attorney for prompt assistance. Visit us at our stations located in Fairfax, VA, and Northern Virginia today for consultation on criminal defense.
How Long Can One's License Suspension Last?
In Virginia, a driver's license suspension may last for a long time, based on different levels of the incident. It also depends on the severity of the violation that resulted in its suspension in the first place. For instance, if a police officer pulls you over and catches you on the act, he or she can suspend your license even before you are convicted of the crime. Upon being arrested, the officer will hold on to your driver’s license and issue you a temporary one that expires in a short term period.
Your permit will be suspended on that date, except if you do well at the DMV hearing. Thus, you must ask for a hearing. Failure to that, the DMV will automatically suspend your driver's license. This continues even if the proceedings were subsequently diminished or dropped by the tribunal. For those who are unfortunate during their DMV hearing, the officer will gladly suspend your license for a specific period. However, the period in question depends on several circumstances. Therefore, if you would like to avoid a license suspension, it is better to act fast and seek for a DMV hearing without delay. If you are busy, you can liaise with your criminal defense attorney to book the hearing on your behalf.
Failure to Comply with a Police Officer at the Scene
This is one of the most critical incidents that may increase the charges. If you happen to be pulled over by the officer, and you neglect the call, charges like resisting arrest may pile up on your file on top of the DWI. Such aggravations on top of a DWI case may result in forceful actions that are not pleasant. We do not wish to see you in such a situation. However, you may as well get in touch with our proficient team of criminal defense attorneys for assistance in defending your rights.
Other forms of failure to comply with the authorities include refusal to provide multiple breath samples to officers and failure to participate in their Field Sobriety Tests. Refusal to submit urine samples, blood tests, also features in this category. The prosecutor, in your case, may use such factors. Therefore, call a trusted criminal defense attorney like the Virginia Criminal Attorney in Fairfax and Northern Virginia today. We more often than not assist with all criminal and driver's license revocation matters.
A Criminal Record Similar to Driving while Intoxicated
A defendant is prone to losing his or her driving license based on their history. For a first offender, it may seem pretty scary and devastating to experience this. However, the level of charges likely to be levied on them may seem to be more or less lenient compared to those with recurring records of the same offense.
Even though the suspension is obligatory for those 12 months, you are eligible to obtain a restricted license immediately upon being convicted of DWI, as explained later in the document. For those with an existing criminal record, the license may take 12 months or more. Moreover, the restricted permit is not going to be accessed instantaneously. However, if the license is revoked, it means that the driver may lose the privilege of driving or operating any automobile permanently.
Exceeding the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)
A person aged 21 years and above violates the DWI law if he or she is caught driving while intoxicated on drugs or surpassing the blood alcohol concentration level of 0.08 percent and above. The percentages also vary depending on the age of the driver, the field of work, to name a few. For this reason, the length of time the license is revoked or suspended is correlated with the amount of intoxication in one's bloodstream. This also includes other factors, such as the type of passenger in the vehicle.
You may be wondering how the level of one's intoxication relates to the length of the license suspension. Let's take an example of a person under the age of 21 years convicted of breaking the DWI law. The law states that a person under the age of 21 will be legally convicted if he or she surpasses 0.02 percent or more while operating a vehicle.
However, you may get a scenario whereby the under-age was caught with a high concentration level of 0.08. In such a situation, the individual will be charged equally like any other person that is aged 21 and above. That means that he will not be exempted since he or she is a minor.
Therefore as you can see, a violation of the DWI law can have serious repercussions. Seek proper legal advice on your appeal against the revocation of your driver's license as you did with the DWI court proceedings.
Reinstatement of Your Driving Privileges
Obtaining a restricted driver’s license relies highly on the various circumstances that led to your suspension. In most situations, a first time offender may more likely feel a little bit "cozy" than others portraying criminal records. He or she may be leniently charged, however, not as such. It is obligated that the individual must undergo evaluations like taking the alcohol safety action program as well as to appear before the judge and prosecutor for hearing.
They must present themselves in court to explain why their permit should be reinstated, even though they meet the aspects set out by law. The process of applying for a restricted, also known as a hardship license, takes a few days to sort and finalize the paperwork in order. This development temporarily allows one access to drive again, however, with several restrictions.
For instance, in Virginia, they permit you to drive to and from school, work, minor childcare, if you have a child, and a few other specific things. A restricted license doesn't allow you to drive anytime you want; you can only drive for particular reasons. In a situation whereby you have urgent calls, like an emergency in the hospital, or urgent class lectures, then you must have an obligatory for DWI.
Find a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
All the rules work intricately for restricted licenses and suspension of your driver’s license for DWI. The general policy is that you will forfeit your driver's license for at least 12 months if you are arrested.
So it is important to speak to the Virginia Criminal Attorney without delay so that we can see what defense strategy to adopt for your case. We will also determine how we can help protect your ability to drive in Virginia. You can reach us via 703-718-5533 as well as make an appointment in our offices located in Fairfax and Northern Virginia for prompt support.