Penalties for a DUI in the State of Virginia

Drinking and Driving
Getty Images/Alejandro Rivera

It's no secret that drinking and driving can get you into a lot of trouble, no matter what state you are in. Tough laws are on the books everywhere. If you are caught and convicted for a DUI in Virginia, though, you are will be facing some of the harshest penalties to be found in the United States. So, before you have a few and head out to your car for a quick ride to the market to pick up another six pack, you might want to read further for an idea of what penalties for a DUI in the State of Virginia you might be in for.

DUI in Virginia

In Virginia, you are legally considered to be driving under the influence (DUI) if you are operating a motor vehicle, boat or watercraft with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08 percent or higher, regardless of your age. For drivers under the age of 21, however, any consumption of alcohol is illegal and if you are stopped while driving after consuming alcohol, you are subject to administrative license suspension. Additionally, under 21 drivers convicted of driving with a BAC of between 0.02 and 0.08 percent will face their own set of penalties, as discussed below.

Breath Test Refusal

If you are pulled over by a law enforcement officer who reasonably suspects that you are driving under the influence, you will be requested to submit to a breath test. If you refuse such a test and are subsequently convicted for your refusal, your license will be suspended for one year. Breath test refusal with a prior DUI or refusal will result in a misdemeanor charge with a possible three-year license suspension.

In addition, any suspension for refusing a breath test will run consecutively to any suspension received as a result of a DUI conviction.      

Administrative License Suspension

There are two types of penalties for DUI in Virginia: administrative and criminal. Administrative penalties come in the form of an administrative license suspension.

A first DUI offense or breath test refusal will trigger an automatic seven-day license suspension. A second offense or refusal will result in a license suspension of 60 days or until the accused goes to trial. A third offense means automatic license suspension until trial.

Criminal DUI Penalties

Criminal penalties for DUI in Virginia are stiff and vary according to BAC levels and the number of previous offenses. Here is a rundown.

  • First Offense: Mandatory minimum $250 fine; one-year driver's license revocation.


  • Second Offense: Mandatory minimum $500 fine; three-year driver's license revocation; and possible jail term of up to one year. A second offense within ten years of a prior offense mandates a ten-day jail term. A second offense within five years of prior offense adds a 20-day jail term.


  • Third Offense: Mandatory minimum $1,000 fine; indefinite license revocation; Class 6 felony prosecution. Conviction of a third DUI within ten years of prior conviction mandates an additional 90-day jail term and permanent forfeiture of vehicle. Conviction of third DUI within five years of prior conviction comes with additional mandatory six-month jail term.


  • BAC between 0.15% and 0.20% at the time of arrest: additional five-day jail term for first offense; additional ten-day jail term for second offense within ten years.


    • BAC higher than 0.20% at time of arrest: mandatory ten-day jail term for first offense; additional 20-day jail term for second offense within ten years.


    Additional Penalties and Requirements


    • DUI with Juvenile Passenger: A DUI conviction involving a passenger 17 years of age or younger will include an additional 5-days in jail and possible fine of between $500 and $1,000. A second DUI conviction involving a juvenile passenger will add an 80-hour community service requirement.


    • Ignition Interlock Device: Installation of ignition interlock devices are mandated for all DUI convictions. The duration of device installations vary depending on the number of DUI convictions. Violations of ignition interlock restrictions will result in license revocation.


    • Alcohol Education Treatment Program: Individuals convicted for DUI in Virginia must report to an Alcohol Safety Action Program for screening and probationary oversight. As a result of the screening, persons may be required to attend, at their expense, alcohol-related education and/or treatment programs.


      • Vehicle Impoundment: If an individual is caught driving on a license that has been suspended for an alcohol-related offense, the vehicle being driven will immediately be impounded or immobilized for 90 days. The court can impound the vehicle for an additional 90 days following a DUI conviction.


      • Restitution: Drivers may be required to pay restitution of up to $1,000 for the cost of law enforcement, fire and/or emergency services employed in response to a crash or incident involving a DUI violation.

      Now check out the penalties for driving without car insurance in Virginia.