Virginia DUI Laws

Virginia DUI Basics

The legal limit for blood alcohol content in the United States is 0.08 percent. In Virginia this limit is decreased to 0.04 percent for all those who drive commercial vehicles. All those under the age of twenty-one are considered minors in regards to alcohol consumption and will subsequently be arrested if they have blood alcohol content levels above 0.02 percent.

Driving under the influence offenses can be prosecuted in one of two ways. The first is through impairment where the prosecution will attempt to prove to the court that the individual was impaired while driving. Impairment can include alcohol, drugs, or drugs and alcohol together. Evidence will be brought before the court and can include driving patterns, physical appearance, blood alcohol content levels, and field sobriety tests. The second is through per se law where the prosecution will attempt to prove that an individual had a blood alcohol content above the legal limit.


The state of Virginia has a washout period of ten years. A washout period states that after ten years, or five in some states, a prior offense cannot be used to aggravate a current offense.

A new offense will be treated like a first offense under this law. Punishments for driving under the influence are based on these prior offenses. The more offenses an individual has on his or her record, the harsher his or her punishments will become. Aggravating circumstances can also increase a sentence. These can include harming another, driving over the speed limit, driving with a minor in the motor vehicle, and driving with a blood alcohol content twice the legal limit.


In Virginia first and second driving under the influence offenses are considered misdemeanor offenses. Their penalties may vary depending on any aggravating factors. A first offense can earn a fine of no less than two hundred fifty dollars, driver’s license suspension, and incarceration.

Incarceration sentences vary in Virginia and are based on blood alcohol content. If a minor under seventeen was in the motor vehicle or the individual had a blood alcohol content above 0.15 percent but lower than 0.20 percent, then he or she will have at least a five-day sentence in jail. If an individual has a blood alcohol content above 0.20 percent then he or she will have a jail sentence of no less than ten days.

A second driving under the influence offense can earn at least a five hundred-dollar fine, up to one year in jail, three years of driver’s license suspension, and an ignition interlock device. If a minor under the age of seventeen was in the motor vehicle, the offender will also earn community service.


A third or subsequent offense is considered a felony in Virginia. Penalties for drunken driving felonies include no less than a one thousand-dollar fine, at least ninety days in jail, driver’s license suspension, motor vehicle forfeiting, and ignition interlock devices. A jail sentence can increase to a minimum of six months if a third offense was committed within five years of a prior offense.

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