State Overview of Drunk Driving Laws

In Virginia you can be charged with a DUI if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 or higher. If one is under the influence of narcotics, they can be charged with a driving under the influence of drugs, or DUID.  It is even possible to receive a DUI if one is taking prescription medication that is prescribed to them. It is up to the officer to determine if the individual is impaired. If he decides that they are, then he can arrest the individual for a DUI or DWI depending on the circumstances.

General Overview

DUIs are the most common crime in the state of Virginia and there are serious punishments for DUI convictions, even for first-time offenders. These penalties become more serious if it is not the offender’s first DUI. In some cases, mandatory jail sentences are required and the crime may be considered a felony. There are also non-legal consequences that can have drastic effects on one’s life.

Penalties, Fines and Jail Time

Virginia’s DUI laws can be confusing as there are many factors that need to be considered in order to understand the penalties an individual may face. Driver license suspension is common to all DUI convictions but fine amounts and jail time may differ.

For a first time DUI conviction, the maximum amount of jail time that one will have to serve is 12 months. The maximum fine that one can receive is $2,500. Those convicted of a DUI will also lose their license for one year. If one is granted permission to drive with a restricted license, they will need to have a ignition lock device installed on their vehicle. There is a mandatory minimum jail sentence of five days for those with a BAC of 0.15 to .20 and a mandatory 10 day sentence for BACs higher than .23.

If one receives a second DUI conviction within five years, there is a mandatory minimum jail sentence of twenty days and a three year driver license suspension.

If one receives a second DUI conviction with the previous five to ten years, there is a mandatory minimum jail sentence of ten days and a three year driver license suspension.

For both second offense DUI convictions, there are increases in mandatory time if there is an elevated BAC.  For instance, if the BAC at the time of the arrest was 0.15 to .20, an additional ten days of mandatory time will be imposed.  If the BAC at the time of the arrest was greater than .20, an additional twenty days of mandatory jail time will be imposed.

If one receives a third DUI conviction within ten years, the charge is prosecuted as a felony. The mandatory minimum jail sentence increases to 90 days.

If the third DUI conviction is within five years, there is a mandatory minimum jail sentence of six months, a fine starting at $1,000 and indefinite license suspension. It is possible to receive a prison sentence of up to five years.


In addition to the legal consequences, there can be many unforeseen personal effects. Having a DUI on your record can cause a drastic increase in insurance rates. It can also be a defining factor in the employment process. Many employers will refuse to hire someone if they have even one DUI on their record. Many landlords will view a DUI conviction as an indicator of irresponsibility and deny an applicant from living on their property.

This is why it is essential to ensure that the legal defense one chooses will do everything in their power to make sure that one’s rights are protected and that an optimal conclusion will be reached.

Karin Porter

Before she joined Price Benowitz LLP, Porter was an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney prosecuting felony criminal cases. In many other states, these types of prosecutors are referred to as District Attorney or State’s Attorney. Working in this position gives one an intimate knowledge of how criminal cases are built and presented. She spent nine years working in this position.

Porter understood the important role that intelligent, skilled defense attorney’s served, so after serving as an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney, she decided to become a defense lawyer.

Porter uses her vast experience to assist her clients in achieving the best possible result in their DUI cases. Because she served as a prosecutor, she understands how the prosecution prepares and presents their cases and is able to prepare the best possible defense for her clients.

Porter received a Bachelor of Arts in Labor Studies from Pennsylvania State University in 1995. She graduated cum laude from George Mason University School of Law in 2002 and became licensed to practice law the same year.

She has been on the Executive Committee of the Alexandria Economic Opportunities Commission since 2010. According to, they are an organization that develops and recommends programs which provide outreach and assistance to low-income residents. She is also a member of the Alexandria Bar Association, who have been serving the community since 1928. They offer many different types of Continuing Legal Education classes and provide referrals for clients who want to schedule a consultation with an attorney at a discounted rate.

Address Information

10605 Judicial Drive

Suite 275

Fairfax, VA 22030

(703) 957-7070