Virginia takes intoxicated driving charges very seriously. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) reports that prosecutors obtained 19,925 DWI convictions in the Commonwealth in 2016 alone. It is important to note that you do not actually have to be convicted of a DWI to start facing consequences.
In Virginia, a DWI arrest, DWI charge, or a DWI refusal will result in an automatic administrative license suspension. With an administrative suspension, an arresting officer will physically confiscate the driver’s license. Here, our Fairfax drunk driving defense lawyers explain the most important things you need to know about Virginia’s administrative license suspension laws.
A DWI Charge or DWI Refusal: An Administrative License Suspension in Virginia
Virginia law gives the police the ability to suspend a driver’s license after a DWI arrest or a DWI refusal (Code of Virginia § 46.2-391.2). An administrative suspension is technically not a criminal penalty. As such, it applies immediately—meaning a driver will lose their right to operate a motor vehicle without getting a day in court.
The officer will physically take the license and the driver should receive an official Notice of Administrative Suspension. Pursuant to Virginia law, the length of an administrative license suspension will depend on a person’s previous history of DWI offense, or lack thereof. More specifically, a defendant may face:
- First Offense: Seven-day administrative suspension of your driver’s license.
- Second Offense: Sixty-day administrative suspension of your driver’s license.
- Additional Offenses: Suspension of your driver’s license will last until the criminal trial.
It is important to clarify that an administrative license suspension is a wholly separate penalty from a post-conviction license suspension or license revocation. If you are subsequently convicted of the drunk driving charge, you could lose your driving privileges for an extended period of time. Any further license suspension or license revocation will be based on the results of the criminal proceedings.
You Can Petition the Court to Review (and Rescind) an Administrative Suspension
As was mentioned, an administrative license suspension takes immediate effect in Virginia. Unless you take proactive steps to protect your right to drive, the operating privileges will be suspended at the administrative level for the required period. That being said, drivers do have the right to challenge an administrative license suspension (Code of Virginia § 46.2-391.2(C)). To do so, you must petition the appropriate court for a review of the suspension right away. If you can prove that the arresting officer lacked probable cause of the arrest, the court must rescind the license suspension.
Beyond seeking a review of the administrative suspension, an affected driver may also have other options to preserve their driving privileges. Indeed, you may be able to apply for a limited purpose license. With this type of license, a driver can get the right to drive for important purposes—such as for employment or for child transportation—while their full privileges are subject to an administrative suspension. An experienced DWI defense lawyer will be able to help you determine the best way to protect your rights, including your right to drive.
Call Our Fairfax, VA DWI Defense Attorneys for Immediate Assistance
At Whitestone Young, PC, our top-rated Virginia drunk driving defense lawyers are committed to providing aggressive, personalized legal advocacy to each and every client. If you have any questions about administrative license suspensions, we can help. To set up a strictly confidential review of your case, please contact our law firm now. We represent defendants throughout Northern Virginia, including in Arlington, Alexandria, Manassas, Reston, Centreville, Chantilly, and Falls Church.