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DUI vs. DUI Per Se: What’s The Difference? (in Virginia)

DUI per se defense lawyer

If you're arrested for a DUI in Virginia, what should you know? Learn the differences between DUI and DUI Per Se

Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving under the influence per se (DUI per se) are criminal offenses in the state of Virginia that involve operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Let’s take a closer look at the laws surrounding DUI and DUI per se in Virginia, including the legal limits for alcohol and drug impairment, the potential consequences of a DUI conviction, and ways to defend against these charges. 

 

What is the legal limit for alcohol impairment in Virginia?

It is illegal in Virginia to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. This is known as the “per se” limit. If a driver’s BAC is at or above 0.08%, they can be charged with a DUI. 

 

Can you be charged with a DUI if your BAC is below the legal limit?

It’s important to note that a person can still be charged with DUI even if their BAC is below 0.08%. Virginia’s “implied consent” law requires drivers to submit to a chemical test (such as a breath or blood test) if asked to do so by a law enforcement officer. Refusing to take a chemical test can result in a separate charge (it is considered a civil offense for the first offense, and a misdemeanor for any subsequent refusal charges) and a suspension of your driver’s license. The length of the suspension depends on the number of previous refusals you have had and whether you have any prior DUI convictions.

 

What are the potential consequences of a DUI or DUI per se conviction in Virginia?

The consequences of a DUI or DUI per se conviction in Virginia depend on the specific circumstances of the case and the offender’s criminal history (they are both prosecuted under the same section of the Code of Virginia — 18.2-266)

Some potential consequences of a DUI or DUI per se conviction include:

  • Jail time: First- and second-time offenders may face up to one year in jail, while third-time or subsequent offenders may face longer sentences. Additionally, Virginia’s Code imposes mandatory minimum jail and prison sentences depending on the severity of the offense.
  • Fines: First-time offenders may be required to pay a fine of up to $2500, while repeat offenders facing a third or subsequent DUI may face even higher fines.
  • Driver’s License suspension: A first-time offender’s license may be suspended for up to one year, while repeat offenders may face longer license suspensions.
  • Ignition interlock device: Some offenders may be required to install an ignition interlock device, which prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver’s BAC is above a certain level.
  • Alcohol education classes: Offenders may be required to attend alcohol education classes or participate in a treatment program.
  • Insurance increases: A DUI or DUI per se conviction can result in higher insurance premiums.

 

What are the laws surrounding drug impairment in Virginia?

In Virginia, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs, including prescription and over-the-counter medications. It is also illegal to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance, such as methamphetamine or cocaine.

It’s important to note that a person can be charged with DUI even if they are not under the influence of alcohol; if a driver is found to be impaired by prescription medication, they can still be charged with a DUI.

 

How can I defend against a DUI or DUI per se charge in Virginia?

If you have been charged with DUI or DUI per se in Virginia, it is important to act quickly to protect your rights and defend against the charges. Contact experienced Richmond DUI lawyer David G. Parker today for your free consultation and case assessment.

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