Driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving while under the influence (DUI) is a severe offense. A DWI/DUI has serious consequences that can follow you for a long time after you’ve paid your dues. In Virginia, a DWI occurs when a driver operates a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. While “DWI” is the way Virginia law refers to this crime, the terms DWI and DUI are often used interchangeably in Virginia.
A DWI also occurs when someone is arrested for driving under the influence of drugs. These drugs can include illegal drugs, prescription medication, and over-the-counter medication. In Virginia, a driver may be charged with a DWI if they are under the influence of any substance that impairs their ability to drive, regardless of whether they possess the drug legally.
In Virginia, a DWI conviction remains on the driver’s criminal record permanently. It stays on the driver’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) record for 11 years from the conviction date. While the DWI is still attached to the driver’s DMV record, it is visible to anyone who requests it. That means that employers, insurance companies, and law enforcement can see the conviction.
Consequences for DWI/DUI
There are a variety of consequences for having a DWI or DUI conviction on a driving record, including:
- Increased insurance premiums: A DWI conviction can result in higher insurance premiums. Insurance companies consider it riskier to insure drivers with a history of driving under the influence. In extreme cases, insurance companies may even refuse to provide coverage.
- Impact on employment opportunities: Many employers perform background checks for potential employees. These background checks may include driving records. A DWI or DUI conviction on your driving record is a red flag. It makes it more challenging to get jobs, especially if they involve driving.
- Driving license suspension: A DWI conviction in Virginia results in license suspension for at least one year. Further DWI offenses will cause an increased suspension period. In some cases, a driver may be able to obtain a restricted license. A restricted license allows drivers to go to and from specific locations, such as work, school, appointments, and treatment programs. Drivers must meet specific requirements to obtain a restricted license. These requirements can include treatment programs or ignition interlock devices.
- Ignition interlock device: An ignition interlock device is similar to a breathalyzer. It is installed in a vehicle and prevents a driver from starting their engine until they pass the breathalyzer test. An interlock device connects to the ignition system. It requires the driver to blow into the device before the engine starts. It can also require breath samples periodically once the car is on. This is known as a rolling test. How long the interlock device is required depends on the court order for the DWI offender.
- Fines: In addition to all other potential consequences for a DWI or DUI conviction, the driver may face additional fees and fines imposed by the judge.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney for Help
If you are facing a DWI charge in Virginia, you should contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights. The attorneys of Whitestone Young, PC, have extensive experience representing people facing DWI charges. We are ready to use that experience to advocate for you as you go through the legal process. We will do what we can to mitigate the negative consequences of a DWI. Contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys of Whitestone Young, PC, for a consultation to discuss your legal options. You can call us at (703) 591-0200 or contact us online.