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Is a DUI a Felony In Virginia?

The state of Virginia strongly pursues cases against people charged with DUI. While the first or second DUI offense is a misdemeanor, it can turn into a felony after the second conviction in some cases, making understanding when DUI is a felony in Virginia crucial. If found guilty of either a misdemeanor or felony, you could face severe punishments such as jail or prison time, fines, loss of your driver’s license, and a lasting criminal record. Due to these lasting effects, it’s crucial to hire a skilled DUI lawyer who can create a solid defense for the charges you face, especially when DUI is a felony in Virginia.

What Are the Consequences for DUI as a Misdemeanor?

Typically, if it’s someone’s first or second DUI and there are no aggravating circumstances (such as no accidents, injuries, children in the vehicle, or prior felony DUI convictions), they will be charged with a DUI as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Under Virginia’s laws, individuals can face DUI charges if they drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more or if law enforcement observes them appearing intoxicated or impaired by drugs while driving. Here are the possible penalties for a misdemeanor DUI, distinguishing it from situations where a DUI is a felony in Virginia:

  • First offense: A first-time DUI can lead to up to 12 months in jail, a fine ranging from $250 to $2,500, mandatory completion of a substance abuse program, one-year probation, and a one-year driver’s license suspension. If a person’s blood alcohol level is at least 0.15 percent but less than 0.20 percent, they must spend at least five days in jail. If the blood alcohol level is 0.20 percent or higher, the required jail time is ten days.
  • Second offense: If found guilty of a second DUI, a person will face at least 20 days in jail if the offense happened within five years of the previous DUI or 10 days if within 10 years. There is also a required $500 fine, and the person’s driver’s license will be suspended for three years. Additionally, the required jail time increases by ten days if the blood alcohol level is between 0.15 percent and 0.19 percent and by 20 days if it is 0.20 percent or higher.

When DUI Becomes a Felony

If you are found guilty of DUI for the third time within 10 years, it counts as a Class 6 felony. Also, if you have a previous felony DUI, felony boating while intoxicated, or other similar felony offenses related to DUI, you can be charged with felony DUI again. Even though this is the least severe type of felony, it still results in tough penalties. These can include:

  • Prison: If someone is found guilty of a third DUI within five years, they must serve at least six months in prison, or 90 days if the conviction is within 10 years. The total prison time can be up to five years. Often, a court will give more jail time than the required minimum to use as leverage while the person is on probation.
  • Fines: The fines can range from $1,000 to $2,500.
  • Driver’s license suspension: A driver’s license can be taken away for an indefinite time after a third or more DUI convictions, but a person might get a limited license after three years and full driving rights after five years from the last convictions.

The penalties are even harsher for a fourth or more DUIs within 10 years. The minimum prison time goes up to at least one year, but the maximum stays at five years. The fines are the same as for a third conviction.

What Other Serious Charges Can result from a DUI?

If you were drunk and caused an accident leading to severe injuries or death, you could face additional felony charges. If you are intoxicated and accidentally cause someone serious, lasting physical harm, you may be charged with DUI maiming. This is a Class 6 felony, and if convicted, you could face one to five years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. This highlights when a DUI becomes a felony in Virginia.

If your DUI led to someone’s death, the charges could be involuntary or aggravated manslaughter. A conviction for involuntary manslaughter can lead to one to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $2,500, or both. For aggravated manslaughter, there’s a minimum sentence of one year and a maximum of 20 years. These cases show the severe consequences when a DUI is a felony in Virginia.

The experienced DUI attorneys at the KGO Law Firm understand the long-term impacts of both misdemeanor and felony DUI convictions. We will work diligently to build a strong defense for your case, aiming for the best possible outcome. Find out what to expect in your criminal proceedings and get your questions answered. Schedule your free consultation by using our online form or calling our Fairfax office today.