Though Virginia law does not call its harsher DUI-associated punishments “enhanced penalties,” the state does dole out more severe consequences in certain types of cases. If the state charged you with a DUI offense, it is important to understand what factors may lead to harsher sentencing.
The Code of Virginia § 18.2-270 explores the punishments for various levels of DUIs a person may commit. Beyond a first-time offense in which a person’s BAC was less than 0.15%, the state almost always enhances offenders’ penalties.
Increased mandatory jail time for a higher BAC and subsequent offenses
If your BAC at the time of the police stop was 0.15% or higher, you can almost count on receiving a harsher jail sentence. For first-time offenders whose BAC was between 0.15% and 0.20%, the mandatory jail time is five days. This mandatory sentence increases to 10 days for persons whose BAC exceeds 0.20%. For comparison’s sake, there is no mandatory minimum jail sentence for first-time offenders whose BAC is lower than 0.15%
The length of the mandatory jail sentence increases for each offense that a person commits within a five to 10-year period. For instance, if you commit your second DUI between five to 10 years after your first, your mandatory minimum sentence would be 10 days. However, if you commit your second offense within five years of your first, the mandatory jail time increases to 20 days. A third offense within between five to 10 years warrants a mandatory 90-day prison term, whereas a third offense within five years will secure you a mandatory minimum sentence of six months. The mandatory minimum sentence increases to one year for four or more offenses within a 10-year period.
Increased fines for each subsequent offense
Not only does the state of Virginia increase jail time for each subsequent offense but also, it increases the fines. A first-time DUI will cost you a minimum of $250. A second offense will cost you a minimum of $500, while a third or subsequent offense will cost you $1,000 or more.
Harsher penalties for transporting minors while intoxicated
If you had a person who was 17 years or younger in your vehicle with you at the time of your DUI stop, you face automatic enhanced penalties regardless of how many prior offenses you have or how high your blood alcohol content registered. The mandatory minimum jail term, in this instance, is five days. The mandatory minimum fine is between $500 and $1,000.
The immediate punishments for a DUI are harsh, but so, too, are the long-term consequences. The best thing you can do for your future is to try to mitigate those consequences sooner rather than later.