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Virginia DUI or DWI

It is illegal to drive a car, truck, boat, motorcycle, or any other motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs in Virginia. Driving under the influence (known as DUI) is a crime in Virginia.

In other states, driving under the influence may also be known as driving while intoxicated (DWI), operating under the influence (OUI), or operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI).

Virginia DUI laws limit the amount of alcohol a person can have in his or her bloodstream-known as the blood alcohol content, or BAC-while operating a motor vehicle. The current BAC limit in Virginia is .08 percent, which is the equivalent of .08 g of alcohol per 100 ml of blood. For underage drivers in Virginia, the BAC limit is .02 percent.

How Do Virginia Police Determine If You're Driving Under the Influence?

If police in Virginia believe you might be driving under the influence, the police can stop you and administer a field sobriety test. Virginia police may also operate sobriety checkpoints at which all drivers are checked for signs of impairment.

During a field sobriety test in Virginia, you may be asked to:

  • Stand on one foot with your arms at your side
  • Walk in a straight line, placing the heel of one foot directly in front of the toes of your other foot, then turn, and walk back to the police officer
  • Track a moving object with your eyes while keeping your head still

How Do Police in Virginia Determine Your Blood Alcohol Content?

Based on your field sobriety test, the police officer may have probable cause to arrest you under suspicion of driving under the influence. Police may subsequently administer a breathalyzer test, a blood test, or a urine test to measure your blood alcohol content.

If you refuse to take a BAC test, Virginia laws require officials to automatically suspend your driver's license for three years.

Virginia Law enforcement officials do not necessarily need BAC test results to charge you with driving under the influence. They can charge you with DUI in Virginia even if your BAC test results are under the legal threshold for driving under the influence. You can be convicted of driving under the influence in Virginia based on other evidence that demonstrates you were unable to safely drive your motor vehicle.

A Virginia DUI attorney can help you understand the charges against you.

What Are the Penalties for Driving Under the Influence in Virginia?

Factors affecting DUI charges in Virginia include:

  • Whether you have any prior DUI convictions in Virginia
  • Whether you were in an accident or speeding while intoxicated
  • Whether there was a child in the car with you while you were intoxicated
  • Whether your BAC was excessively high
  • Whether you were driving on a suspended license

If convicted of DUI in Virginia, you may face penalties including:

  • Fines of at least $250 for the first offense
  • Revocation of your Virginia driver's license
  • Possible jail sentence
  • Permanent forfeiture of your motor vehicle

In addition, your motor vehicle insurance rates will almost certainly increase following a Virginia DUI conviction.

If you have been charged with driving under the influence in Virginia, your Virginia DUI lawyer can help you attempt to negotiate lesser charges, defend you in court, and appeal a conviction if necessary.

Additional Virginia Driving Under the Influence Resources

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's guide to impaired driving & selected beverage control laws

Information about Virginia courts

Guide to Understanding Blood Alcohol Concentration & Alcohol Impairment

Information about the law & penalties for driving drunk or under the influence of drugs in Virginia guide to DUI-DWI defenses

Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles information about drinking & driving

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's summary of DUI-DWI laws

Virginia Alcohol Safety Program's driving while intoxicated frequently asked questions