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Common misconceptions about Virginia’s DUI laws

In Virginia, driving under the influence (DUI) of either alcohol or drugs is a punishable offense. While this is common knowledge, several misconceptions exist about the state’s DUI laws and penalties.

This blog will explore four of the most common DUI misconceptions so that you don’t get confused and know what to expect if you face charges.

You can’t get a DUI on prescription medication

Some people believe that if they take prescription medication, an officer can’t charge them with DUI. However, according to Virginia law, it’s illegal to operate a vehicle while under the influence of any drug that impairs your ability to drive, including prescription medication. Even if you have a valid prescription for a medication, you can still face charges if the medicine impairs your ability to drive.

You have to be drunk to get a DUI

Another common misconception is that you need to physically look drunk to face DUI charges. You might not feel drunk, but if an officer administers a blood or breath alcohol test and your results display at least .08% blood/breath alcohol content, the officer can charge you for exceeding the legal limit.

A DUI only affects your driving record

Some persons may think that DUIs are traffic offenses and only affect their driving record. However, Virginia – as in other U.S. states – considers DUI a criminal offense. A conviction for DUI leads to a criminal record, which can impact a person’s ability to secure a job, housing or even a loan.

You can’t get a DUI while parked

There’s a misconception that drivers only get DUIs if they’re caught driving while drunk and that being drunk inside a parked vehicle is fine. However, state law says you can face charges whether you’re driving or in “actual physical control” of the vehicle. If you’re drunk and seated on the driver’s side of a parked vehicle with the engine running, officers can charge you.

It’s important to understand the laws and penalties associated with DUI to avoid making costly mistakes that can affect your future. A DUI conviction not only leads to a criminal record but also costly fines, jail time and a license suspension. If you face charges, remember that a legal professional may be able to guide you through the court process and represent you in the hearing.