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Repeat DUI offenses: The increased risks and penalties

In Virginia, driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or an intoxicating controlled substance can lead to criminal and administrative penalties. On top of fines and jail time, a court can also suspend your driving privileges and order you to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in your vehicle.

But did you know these penalties become more severe with each subsequent conviction?

The escalation of penalties

Typically, if a person is convicted of DUI for the first time, the offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries at least $250 in fines and up to a year of license suspension. If the person had a blood alcohol content level of .15% at the time of the offense, they could end up paying between $250 and $400 in fines and serve a possible 30-day jail sentence.

However, that all changes if you get another DUI conviction within certain timeframes:

  • Second offense within less than five to 10 years of a prior conviction: This offense is punishable by a mandatory minimum fine of $500 (up to $2,500) and at least one month of jail (up to a year). For a conviction within less than five years of a previous offense, the driver must serve a mandatory 20 days of confinement. For a conviction within 10 years of a previous offense, the mandatory sentence period becomes 10 days instead.
  • Third offense within less than five to 10 years of a prior conviction: The offense becomes a Class 6 felony, which is punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days if the latest conviction was within 10 years of a previous offense. The maximum possible prison sentence for this offense is five years. If the three offenses were committed within a five-year period, the sentence instead includes a mandatory minimum sentence of six months, with a five-year maximum possible sentence. The convicted person must also pay a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000, up to $2,500. Officials will also revoke the driver’s license indefinitely.
  • Fourth or subsequent offense within a 10-year period: The offense is still a felony, but the mandatory minimum term of imprisonment becomes one year. Five years remains the maximum sentence period. The mandatory minimum fine is still $1,000, up to a maximum of $2,500. A court can also order the revocation of the driver’s license and forfeiture of their vehicle.

The consequences of repeat DUI offenses in Virginia are severe and life-altering. If you find yourself dealing with a DUI charge, a knowledgeable legal professional may be able to guide you through the legal process and protect your rights in court.