Carter Craig, Attorneys at Law

Driving while intoxicated or drugged can draw heavy penalties

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Every Virginia driver should understand that driving while intoxicated or under the influence of any drug is strictly forbidden. The law allows severe punishments because the consequences of driving while drunk or high can be devastating, leaving people injured and dead.

A drunk driving conviction is likely if a driver's blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 percent or higher. Anyone who is detained on suspicion of driving under the influence can be arrested within three hours if tests confirm that alcohol in the person's blood exceeds the legal limit. Detention and arrest are also possible if an open and partially consumed alcohol container is found in a vehicle.

Drivers detained for DUI cannot legally refuse to take a breathalyzer test without having their driver's license suspended. A first-time DUI offender can lose a driver's license for one year and be required to pay a minimum $250 fine. A second offense has a minimum $500 fine, loss of a driver's license for three years and a possible one year jail term. Continued offenses can lead to felony charges, an indefinite driver's license suspension and a $1,000 fine. Any DUI offender found driving on a suspended license can be sent to jail for five years and be fined $2,500.

All DUI offenses are reported to the state's Central Criminal Records Exchange. In the most severe and chronic cases, a court can require a DUI offender to install an ignition interlock device to render a vehicle inoperable if the driver is intoxicated. A vehicle can also be impounded. Most importantly, criminal sanctions can be used against a driver in a civil lawsuit to recover damages.

Source: DMV.State.VA.us, "Virginia is tough on drunk and drugged drivers," Accessed on July 2, 2015

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