What Are the Penalties for a Fourth Offense DUI in Virginia?

dui in virginiaDrunk driving results in the loss of thousands of lives each year across the state of Virginia. In fact, 264 of Virginia’s 827 traffic fatalities involved the presence of alcohol.

Virginia criminalizes the act of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, and law enforcement authorities enforce DUI statutes with consistency. In 2019 alone, 18,648 people received DUI convictions in Virginia.

Despite the stiff penalties associated with the crime of drunk driving, it still occurs with alarming frequency.

DUI convictions carry significant monetary penalties, and in some cases, a mandatory jail sentence. If you receive a fourth DUI charge in Virginia, contact me to determine what options are available to you.

Virginia Penalties for Fourth DUI

Virginia legislators have passed some of the strictest DUI laws in the country. For example, Virginia requires first-time offenders to give up their driver’s license for an entire year.

In an attempt to limit repeat offenders, Virginia imposes more severe penalties on individuals convicted of DUI multiple times.

For instance, for a 4th DUI in Virginia a driver faces one year of mandatory jail time. Please keep in mind that mandatory jail time means that the judge does not have the discretion to lower that jail sentence.

It is set by the legislature, written into the laws of the state, and is non-negotiable if you are convicted for a fourth offense.

Additionally, the driver can incur a minimum fine of $1,000. Unlike the jail time, this amount is a minimum. The judge does have discretion to increase that amount as they see fit.

A fourth time offender also faces the suspension of his or her license for an indefinite period of time. A 4th DUI in VA carries the classification of a Class 6 felony.

Additional Consequences of a 4th Offense DUI

Legal penalties associated with a fourth DUI are provided above. However, DUI convictions impose additional consequences outside of the criminal justice system, including:

  • Increased insurance rates;
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device;
  • Loss of driving privileges; and
  • Loss of job opportunities.

These added penalties cause far-reaching issues for individuals with multiple DUI convictions. Before pleading guilty to a DUI charge, consult with an experienced DUI attorney to determine whether the facts of your case warrant lessening your charges.

Defenses to DUI Charges

A number of legal defenses are available to drivers accused of driving under the influence. Getting your charges reduced or dismissed is a possibility when one of these legal defenses exists in your case. Consult with me to determine whether any of these circumstances apply to your case.

Invalid Traffic Stop

Authority to initiate a traffic stop requires law enforcement officers to have a “reasonable suspicion” that you are violating the law. If there is no reasonable suspicion of illegal activity, the police cannot stop you.

Potential violations that constitute reasonable suspicion include equipment violations or minor traffic infractions, in addition to indications of driving under the influence.

In other words, if police witness an erratic driving pattern, this can give them reasonable suspicion that you are under the influence of some mind-altering substance like alcohol or drugs. Common signs of impairment that police look for include:

  • Failure to maintain a single lane;
  • Failure to use turn signals;
  • Driving too slow for road conditions;
  • Slow reaction time; and
  • Lack of awareness of stoplights and signs.

If an officer charged you with DUI but did not have reasonable suspicion to make the initial traffic stop, you may have a valid defense to your charges.

An attorney could fight to show that no reasonable suspicion to stop you existed. If they succeed, they will likely be able to get any evidence obtained during or after the traffic stop excluded—including your breath test results.

Advisement of Miranda Rights

Many individuals charged with DUI are not aware of their rights. Police officers are required to notify individuals they suspect of driving under the influence of certain information before conducting an examination to determine your BAC.

Advisement of Virginia’s implied consent law is required.

Additionally, the law requires police to advise individuals of their Miranda rights once they are “in custody.”

So if officers questioned you without first reading your Miranda rights to you, the information you provided could be deemed inadmissible in court.

Testing Equipment Malfunctions

 

Chemical tests used by law enforcement to ascertain a driver’s BAC are not infallible. The machines used to collect breath samples from defendants require routine calibration and maintenance to ensure the accuracy of their results.

Improper test administration and operator error can also contribute to inaccurate readings. Virginia requires breath test administrators to have a valid license to obtain the breath test results.

This license is issued by the Virginia Department of Forensics. If the person who administered your test does not have a valid license, the court can exclude the BAC results from the prosecution’s case.

If authorities obtained your BAC by administering the test incorrectly or with a machine that was not properly maintained, we can argue to have your DUI charges dismissed.

Facing a 4th DUI Charge in Virginia? Hire an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

I have represented thousands of clients throughout Virginia with a wide array of criminal issues. I understand the stress you are under, and I know that you need an ally and advocate.

When your liberty is at stake, consulting with an attorney who has extensive professional relationships with local law enforcement and prosecutors is an invaluable asset.

I take a result-oriented approach, meeting with clients one-on-one to determine your desired result. Contact my office today to discuss your 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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