Can You Go To Jail For A DUI In Virginia?

how long do you stay in jail for a duiVirginia’s DUI law carries a wide range of possible penalties for a DUI conviction.

Facing DUI or DWI charges does not mean that you will go to jail.

However, you need to know what punishments you face after an arrest for DUI or DWI in Virginia.

As a seasoned DUI defense lawyer in Virginia, people often ask me, Will I go to jail for my first DUI? I defend people like you who wonder if you are going to jail for a DUI.

The particular circumstances of each DUI charge determine the outcome of the case. However, getting charged with DUI doesn’t mean that you are going to jail for DUI.

A knowledgeable DUI defense attorney will develop a defense strategy that reduces your exposure to jail for a DUI charge.

Video: Virginia DUI / DWI – Will You Go To Jail?

Jail Time For DUI Offenses

Some people do not understand that going to jail for DUI is a possibility. They are surprised to learn how severe the penalties for a DUI conviction are in Virginia. Many clients assume the answer is “No” when they ask can you go to jail for a DUI?

First-Offense DUI

A first-offense DUI charge is a Class I misdemeanor in Virginia. As a Class I misdemeanor, the penalties for a first-offense DUI are:

  • A maximum jail sentence of one year, with no minimum sentence (depending upon your blood alcohol content);
  • A $2,500 fine; and
  • A suspension of your driver license for one year; and
  • Completion of the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program.

The court may place you on probation and order you to take driving safety courses as well.

Second-Offense DUI

The penalties for a second offense DUI are more severe than for a first-offense DUI, even though both are Class I misdemeanors.

A conviction for a second-offense DUI carries mandatory jail time. The amount of jail time for DUI depends on the timing of your first DUI conviction. The penalties for a second-offense DUI conviction are:

  • A maximum jail term of one year;
  • A minimum jail term of 10 days if the first offense happened within 10 years;
  • A minimum jail sentence of 20 days if the first offense happened within the last five years;
  • A $2,500 fine; and
  • A driver license suspension for three years.

The court could place you on probation with strict conditions as well that include going to driving school and using an interlocking ignition system.

Third-Offense DUI

A third-offense DUI in Virginia is a Class 6 Felony. A Class 6 felony conviction carries a minimum of one year in prison and a maximum term of five years.

A conviction for a third-offense DUI carries a minimum-mandatory sentence. The minimum-mandatory jail term is 180 days if the last offense occurred within the previous five years. The minimum term would be 90 days if your second conviction happened within the last ten years.

Fourth or subsequent DUI convictions are Class 6 felonies. Virginia law requires a one-year mandatory sentence for a fourth offense or greater.

Factors That Affect Going to Jail

Judges look at several factors that affect whether you go to jail and how long do you stay in jail for a DUI. When sentencing a person convicted of DUI, judges examine:

  • The prior criminal history of the accused;
  • The presence of aggravating circumstances;
  • The severity of the allegations; and
  • The severity of any injuries, or if death resulted.

The sentencing judge could look at other factors as well that could keep you out of jail. Having a seasoned Virginia DUI lawyer argue on your behalf could help you avoid incarceration for your first DUI.

Do Drug and Alcohol DUIs Have the Same Penalties?

Driving while intoxicated by drugs, alcohol, or both result in the same charges. However, Virginia’s DUI law provides for minimum-mandatory sentences that you must serve in addition to the other penalties handed down by the judge if your blood alcohol content (BAC) meets a certain threshold.

If you had a BAC between 0.15 and 0.20 when arrested, then you must serve at least five days in jail for a first offense.

However, you must serve ten days in jail for a second offense within 10 years or if you have a BAC of 0.20 or higher when charged with a first offense.

Also, a judge must sentence you to 20 days in jail in addition to all other sanctions for having a second offense, or greater, if your BAC was 0.20 or higher.

How Long Does A DUI Stay On Your Criminal Record?

A guilty verdict or plea stays on your criminal record forever. Virginia law allows prosecutors to use prior convictions that are within 10 years to bring more severe charges.

A DUI conviction stays on your driving record for at least 11 years. You could ask a judge to expunge the arrest if you receive an acquittal, the prosecution dismisses the case, or the State does not bring charges.

Should I Get Help from an Attorney? Contact Our Virginia DUI Defense Attorneys Today

Speaking with our Virginia DUI defense attorneys as soon as possible after a DUI arrest is the best course of action to take. We have handled various DUI cases with favorable outcomes.

Contact our office today to make an appointment and start defending your DUI case.

Andrew Flusche

My name is Andrew Flusche. I am a traffic and misdemeanor defense lawyer in Virginia. I limit my practice to traffic tickets and misdemeanor defense, so I know the ins and outs of these offenses. I literally wrote the book on reckless driving in Virginia which you can get on Amazon here or download for free here. I opened my practice in 2008 after earning my Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. Since then, I have earned over 600 5-star reviews from happy clients on Google, Yelp, and Facebook. If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor offense in Virginia, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Your initial consultation is always free, and you'll talk directly with me about the details of your case.

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