Have you been charged with a first offense DUI? It’s scary to see flashing lights in your rearview mirror, let alone be pulled over by the police, questioned, arrested, and required to take a breath, blood, or urine test. After the police release you, you’re probably wondering what you should do next.
If this is your first run-in with the law, you need help. If convicted, you face tough penalties, including a permanent criminal record that can impact your future. The best thing you can do is call a Virginia DUI attorney from the Law Offices of Michael A. Pignone when you’re dealing with a 1st offense DUI charge. Contact the firm today to schedule your free case evaluation!
When the Police Can Arrest You for a DUI
Under the Code of Virginia, § 18.2-266, it is illegal to drive or operate any vehicle if:
- Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is at or above 0.08%,
- You are under the influence of alcohol,
- You are under the influence of a drug, or
- You are impaired by a combination of drugs and alcohol.
The legal limit for the average driver is 0.08. But if you have your commercial driver’s license and are driving a commercial vehicle, your limit is 0.04. If you’re under 21 years old, your legal limit is 0.02.
What Is a First-Offense DUI?
A first offense DUI might be the first time you have ever been arrested for drunk driving.
Virginia has a 10-year look-back period. When the police arrest you for a DUI, they look back 10 years for any previous DUI convictions. If you were previously convicted of a DUI more than 10 years ago, this new arrest is still a first offense DUI.
If you’ve had one or more DUI convictions in the past 10 years, then you face a harsher charge. We can help with multiple DUI convictions.
Virginia’s Implied Consent Law
Virginia has what’s called an implied consent law, which means by driving in the state, you have already agreed to alcohol or drug testing if the police arrest you for a DUI/DWI offense. If you refuse a breath, urine, or blood test after a DUI arrest, you face additional consequences, including a one-year administrative driver’s license suspension for a first-time offense.
This law applies to official chemical testing after your arrest, not a roadside breath test during your traffic stop. You can refuse to take the preliminary breath test during a traffic stop without fear of being punished.
Field Sobriety Tests
Virginia’s implied consent law doesn’t apply to field sobriety tests, like the walk-and-turn test.
The police might make it seem like complying with these tests is mandatory. It is not. You can and probably should refuse. But if you did take one or more tests during a traffic stop, do not panic. Call a Virginia first-time DUI lawyer for help. We can defend against the results.
First-Time DUI Penalties
The possible penalties for conviction on a first offense DUI could include up to one year in jail, fines as high as $2,500, and a driver’s license suspension for one year. If you have a high BAC over 0.15, you face a minimum of 5 days in jail and a minimum of 10 days if your BAC is over .20
With the help of a Virginia first-time DUI attorney, you can avoid jail time.
How Can a Virginia First-Time DUI Lawyer Help Me?
Many people still ask, Do I need a lawyer for a first-time DUI? The answer is yes!
You might think that you can save money by not hiring a lawyer. But that financial savings can cost you later—both in fees, fines, and possibly jail time or other unpleasant consequences. People also wrongly assume that they will automatically avoid jail for their first offense. But as we’ve discussed, even a first-time DUI charge could lead to jail time.
It’s not hard to envision that going to jail, even for a few days, would disrupt your entire life. If you’re gone for three days or 30 days, will you be able to keep your job? Who will pay your bills or support your family? Having an experienced criminal defense attorney gives you the best chance to avoid a conviction for a first-time DUI charge.
A Lawyer Knows If Police Violated Your Rights
If the police violated your rights, you might be able to file a motion to suppress any evidence the police subsequently seized. But would you even know if the police violated your legal rights? If you did, would you know the right procedure to follow in court? Would you know how to present a compelling and legally accurate argument to the judge to get a dismissal?
Prosecutors in Virginia rarely dismiss DUI cases on their own. That means you have to convince a judge to throw your case out.
The consequences of a DUI conviction can be devastating. Instead of risking your future, contact a knowledgeable Virginia first-time DUI attorney today. Our DUI criminal defense attorney could formulate the best defense for you.
Collateral Consequences of a DUI Conviction
A highly-skilled criminal defense lawyer will explain what could happen if your first-time DUI ends in a conviction. You should be aware that you could lose your driver’s license for up to one year and will likely have to take a safe driving course to get your license back. Also, you will need to pay license reinstatement fees.
The DMV requires you to provide proof of insurance as well. Finding auto insurance after a DUI conviction is challenging. After a DUI conviction in Virginia, your insurer must file an FR-44 form with the state. This form is used when a driver has violated the law against driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. After such a conviction, the minimum coverage required by the state is significantly higher—and costs significantly more. By filling this form, the insurer is assuring the government that your insurance coverage complies with the state’s minimum requirements.
Multiple Offense Consequences
Losing your license after a DUI conviction is very inconvenient. But that conviction now puts you in a position for much harsher penalties if you get another DUI in the future. Having multiple DUI offenses means you face a greater chance of going to jail and losing your license for a longer period of time. You will also have to pay exorbitant fees to get it back.
The best way to avoid these problems is to have a tough and aggressive Virginia First Time DUI attorney fighting for you.
First Time Misdemeanor Charges for DUI in Virginia: Your Options
The legal team at the Law Offices of Michael Pignone will explore every possible strategy that could lead to achieving an acquittal or getting the charges dismissed or reduced. Keeping your driving record and criminal record clear of a DUI conviction is important to your future.
Our experienced legal practitioner also handles other types of cases, including:
You can discuss the circumstances of your arrest and get more detailed information from an experienced Virginia first-time DUI lawyer by calling or using the online form to schedule an initial consultation.