Virginia DUI / DWI License Suspension
What will a conviction of DWI / DUI in Virginia do to your license? Will your license be suspended? Will you be eligible for a restricted license? Let’s talk about it.
Hello, my name is Andrew Flusche, and I’m a Virginia traffic attorney. I want to talk to you about the way a DUI or a DWI conviction affects your license in Virginia.
If you’re convicted of DUI or DWI (it’s the same charge) in Virginia, automatically, even on a first offense, your license or privilege to drive in Virginia, if your license is in another state, will be suspended for 12 months. Unfortunately for us, that is a mandatory suspension by operation of law. So even if the prosecutor and the judge all agree that you shouldn’t be suspended, you still get suspended for 12 months. There is unfortunately no way around that even on a first offense.
The only way around that suspension is if we can beat the charge and win the case so you would not be convicted of DUI or DWI. Or if we could maybe get the charge reduced to a reckless driving charge, some courts, depending on the evidence, some prosecutors are willing to negotiate a case down, and that can sometimes at least reduce the suspension amount. Instead of 12 months, the maximum suspension on a reckless driving charge is 6 months. So it at least cuts it in half, how long you’re suspended for.
Now the only good news here is that even though the suspension is mandatory for those 12 months, you are eligible on a first offense, to get a restricted license immediately upon that conviction of DUI or DWI. It usually takes a couple of business days to get all the paperwork in order, to be able to be driving again, but you are eligible to get that restricted license. In Virginia, that allows you to drive to and from work, to and from school, to and from your ASAP classes if you have to take those; which are also mandatory for DUI; and also to and from minor child care and a few other specific things, but it is very restrictive. You don’t have a license to drive anytime you want, you can only drive for very specific reasons.
Now it’s also important to know that if you have an elevated blood alcohol content–which would mean a blood alcohol content of 0.15 or more–then you could be looking at some different terms for your restricted license. Typically you would have ignition interlock at that level; that’s required. If you have 0.15 or higher, you have to have the ignition interlock, which is the machine you would have to blow in on your car. It’s a burden, on one hand, but it’s also expensive, which is something clients aren’t expecting sometimes.
The other important thing is that if you’re charged with a second offense DUI or DWI in Virginia, and you’re convicted, you are looking at losing your privilege to drive for 3 years, and the restricted license is not going be available immediately. Depending upon when your prior DUI was, you may have anywhere from 4 months to 12 months to wait before you’re able to get a restricted license.
As you can see, it’s very complex the way all the rules work for restricted licenses and suspension of your license for DUI. The default rule is that for any DUI, you’re going to lose your license for some period of time, at least a year, if you’re convicted. So it’s definitely important to talk with an attorney ASAP so we can see what defense we might have and how we can best preserve your ability to drive in Virginia.