If you were charged with violating Virginia’s statute on Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), your arrest triggers two separate court cases, each of which involves multiple stages along the way. The proceedings are complicated regarding both the criminal case and the process that affects your driving privileges. Without a legal background, you may not understand the complex rules that affect your rights.
The good news is that, any point along the timeline of a DWI matter, you may have several opportunities to defend yourself against the charges. Retaining an experienced Virginia DWI defense attorney is essential, but a chronology of a drunk driving case should be helpful.
- The Police Stop:The most common reason officers will pull you over is because of something you did while driving. If you fail to stop at a red light, don’t use a blinker when turning, or otherwise violate traffic laws, they could stop you to issue a ticket. Another reason to pull you over is where police see you driving suspiciously, such as swerving within your lane. In either scenario, officers may suspect that you’re drunk if they observe slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, or the smell of alcohol.
- Arrest and Chemical Tests:Once an officer has grounds to believe that you’re intoxicated, you could be charged with drunk driving. An arrest doesn’t mean you’re guilty of DWI, but it does triggerVirginia’s law on implied consent. By statute, once arrested, you’re required to submit to a blood, breath, or urine test to determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Refusal is a civil violation and could lead to an automatic driver’s license suspension for one year.
If you take a chemical test and it reveals a BAC of .08 percent or above, this is DWI “per se,” meaning you’re above the legal limit. You will have a seven day Administrative Driver’s License Suspension and may face additional penalties described below. However, your BAC is also important for other reasons:
- If your BAC is .15 to .20 percent, you face a mandatory minimum of five days in jail; and,
- A BAC of .21 or more is a minimum of 10 days incarceration; and,
- Anyone under 21 years old with any alcohol in their system could be arrested for a Class 1 misdemeanor under Virginia’s zero tolerance law.
- Hearing on Your Driver’s License Suspension and Criminal Charges:Your driving privileges are automatically suspended for seven days when you’re arrested, but you could lose your license for up to a year for a conviction. Plus, it’s important to remember that DWI is also a criminal case.Criminal penalties for a DWI conviction include up to one year in jail and a minimum fine of $250.
Call Now to Speak with a Virginia DWI Defense Lawyer About Your Case
If you have questions about the timeline of a drunk driving case in Virginia, please contact Del Rio Law, PLLC. Our Glen Allen, VA office serves clients in Henrico County, Richmond City, and throughout the surrounding region in a wide range of criminal cases. You can reach our firm to set up a consultation by 216-502-2059 or visiting our website.