People often think that because it is a victimless crime that DUI charges won’t lead to major penalties in most cases. It is quite common for people to plead guilty to DUI charges, sometimes without even learning the penalties they face beforehand.
Pleading guilty to a first offense may not seem like a major issue, but pleading guilty will potentially lead to heightened consequences if someone ever gets arrested for impaired driving again. How does Virginia penalize drunk driving convictions?
Even first-time charges warrant a defense
A first-time DUI carries the lowest penalties, which is one reason people choose to plead guilty to such offenses. There is a fine of at least $250 and the potential to lose driving privileges for a year. Those facing a second DUI within ten years of the first will face more serious penalties.
The minimum fine doubles to at least $500, while the driver’s license revocation increases to three years. The person accused could also face up to a year in jail and will need to serve at least ten days in jail, possibly 20 if the offense was within five years of the first. A third DUI is even more concerning. Someone will lose their driver’s license indefinitely. They will face at least $1,000 in fines and will usually need to serve at least 90 days in jail. They could also lose their vehicle to the state.
Although incarceration isn’t likely after a first-time DUI where no one suffers an injury, the possibility of substantially heightened penalties for second and third offenses is a valid reason to fight back against a first charge. Those who avoid a conviction don’t have to fret about the possibility of losing their license for three years or indefinitely if they get pulled over again in the future.
Learning more about how Virginia approaches DUI offenses can help motorists better respond to a recent arrest. This is true regardless of whether those who have recently been arrested have been arrested for similar conduct before or not.