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How Likely Is Jail Time for a First DUI

A driving under the influence (DUI) charge is always serious, whether it is your first DUI or a subsequent one. In Virginia, the state imposes mandatory minimum jail sentences if you receive multiple DUI convictions within ten years. Still, even your first DUI can result in severe consequences like increased insurance premiums or losing your driver’s license. In certain circumstances, you could face time in jail. We will explain these scenarios in more detail later in this article. 

The stress and uncertainty of a DUI conviction makes the process very difficult for defendants facing charges. Luckily, a DUI lawyer can help you understand the penalties you are facing and the steps of the DUI process. Many individuals facing first-time DUI charges ask the following questions:

Our team at the Law Offices of Michael A. Pignone can answer your questions and address any other concerns you may have about your case. Contact us today.

What Constitutes DUI in Virginia?

Virginia law prohibits driving or operating a vehicle if the driver:

  • Is impaired by any combination of alcohol and drugs,
  • Has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above 0.08%,
  • Is under the influence of alcohol, or
  • Is under the influence of a narcotic.

If your BAC is between .08% and .14%, you will face the lowest level of penalties for a DUI conviction. If this is your first DUI, jail time is unlikely. The court can sentence you to up to a year in jail. Unless you have a lengthy criminal and traffic record, you may avoid jail time for your first conviction and receive a probation sentence. Instead, you may receive a fine between $250 and $2,500, lose your driving privileges for a year, and be ordered to participate in the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP). VASAP is a state-wide program that establishes driver education and rehabilitation protocols to reduce the number of highway tragedies, especially those caused by impaired drivers.

When Is Jail Time Required After a First-Time DUI Conviction?

As stated above, Virginia imposes mandatory jail time in certain situations, even if it is your first DUI conviction. For example, Code of Virginia § 18.2-270 requires a minimum five-day jail sentence if the defendant’s BAC was between .15% and .2%. If the defendant’s BAC was more than .2%, the mandatory jail sentence increases to ten days.

Additionally, Virginia mandates a five-day minimum jail sentence if the defendant was convicted of DUI while transporting a person under 17 years old.

What If I Refuse a Chemical Test?

Virginia imposes an implied consent law. That means by driving on Virginia roads, you automatically consent to have samples of your blood or breath taken for a chemcial test to determine whether you were driving under the influence if you were arrested for DUI. The implied consent law applies whether you have a Virginia driver’s license or an out-of-state license.

If you refuse to submit to a chemical test, you will face additional consequences, including a one-year administrative license suspension. You will not face a mandatory jail sentence for refusing to take the chemical test, but it may result in other consequences. For example, the prosecutor may use your refusal as evidence at trial to demonstrate your guilt. 

Remember, you can refuse to submit to roadside sobriety testing as well as a portable breath test. The implied consent law applies only to the chemcial test of your breath or blood.

Collateral Consequences of a DUI Conviction

Even if you do not receive jail time for a DUI conviction, you can still face negative ramifications in other areas of your life. These added repercussions include:

  • Lack of job opportunities,
  • Inability to find employment where driving is one of the job duties,
  • Increased insurance rates, and
  • Ineligibility for certain educational scholarships.

These collateral consequences can inflict lifelong difficulties on someone with a DUI conviction on their record. If you are facing a first-time DUI charge, you cannot afford to leave your case in the hands of an inexperienced, unprepared attorney. 

Not to mention, one DUI conviction on your criminal record significantly affects any penalty imposed for a subsequent DUI conviction. A second DUI conviction within five years of your first conviction carries a minimum sentence of a month in jail, with a maximum sentence of one year. A third DUI conviction within five years carries a mandatory minimum sentence of six months in jail, while a third conviction within ten years carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days in jail.

How Likely Is Jail Time for a First DUI in Virginia? Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Pignone to Find Out

Attorney Michael Pignone and his team at the Law Offices of Michael A. Pignone have over 20 years of experience advocating for clients facing DUI charges in Virginia. Even your first DUI conviction can impact your freedom, your family, and your livelihood. Our team will explore every possible strategy that could result in an acquittal or getting your charges reduced or dismissed. While we cannot guarantee a particular outcome in your case, we pride ourselves on our ability to obtain positive results on a consistent basis for our clients.

Before entering private practice, Michael clerked for the Prosecutor in the Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office. Armed with this experience, he entered private practice defending individuals throughout Virginia charged with DUI and other serious criminal offenses.

Contact a DUI defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Michael A. Pignone online or by phone to start your free consultation.

Author Photo

Michael Pignone

Michael Pignone was raised and has lived in Prince William County since 1972. He attended public schools in the county and graduated high school from Osbourn High in Manassas. Following high school, he attended George Mason University where he graduated with honors from the Business School with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance. He was then accepted into, and graduated with honors from, Suffolk Law School in Boston, Massachusetts. Before entering private practice, he clerked for the Prosecutor in the Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.

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