Many people commute through Virginia for businesses or pleasure, and some of those individuals end up with DUI charges while in the state.
In this article, we’ll quickly discuss how you can go about fighting DUI charges in Virginia as an out-of-state commuter.
DUI Penalties for Virginia Residents
The penalties for driving under the influence in Virginia are much more strict than those found in other states.
Normally, for your first DUI offense in Virginia you can expect several penalties, including:
- A minimum fine of $250.
- The revocation of your driver’s license for 1 year.
- Mandatory referral to the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP).
- Possible jail time depending on the circumstances of your case.
The penalties get stricter for each DUI offense and ramp up even more if the offenses are close together.
For example, if your second DUI offense is within 5 years of your first one, you’ll face a mandatory jail sentence of at least 20 days.
For a third offense, or a DWI felony, the judge could take your license away indefinitely.
Virginia DUI Charges for Out-of-State Drivers
If you’re convicted of a DUI in Virginia as an out-of-state commuter, the penalties are generally the same.
However, there are a few other nuances you should be aware of.
For example, if you’re convicted of a first offense of driving while under the influence, the judge will suspend your driving privileges for one year.
However, that decision only suspends your ability to drive in Virginia.
On the other hand, you should be aware that the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles can communicate to your home state that your Virginia license has been suspended in the state as a result of the DUI.
Your home state may take similar actions against you.
This is why you should consult with an attorney in your state to determine what will be the consequences of the conviction.
Even though there can be consequences in your home state, all fines and jail time imposed by a Virginia court are enforceable in Virginia, so you’ll have to do that in-state.
As one additional note, Virginia judges will usually include a referral of VASAP for a first and/or second DUI conviction as part of your sentencing.
If you live out of state, you must first register with a Virginia VASAP program, then transfer to a program more local to you.
For example, if you’re convicted of DUI in Richmond but live in Baltimore, you’d have to transfer from the Capital Area ASAP to a similar program in Baltimore.
How to Fight Out-of-State DUI Charges
Fighting a DUI charge in Virginia from another state can be tough. However, there are several things you can do to make this process easier.
Hire a Lawyer in Virginia
If you’re going to fight the DUI charges, you’ll want to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney.
However, you should remember that lawyers are generally only allowed to defend you in the same state they practice in.
Unless they’ve been admitted to the Virginia bar, a lawyer from another state cannot help you with a criminal case in Virginia.
Get the Charges Reduced or Dismissed
The state of Virginia takes DUIs very seriously. It’s unusual for a judge to dismiss the charges altogether for someone guilty of that offense.
However, in certain scenarios, you might be able to argue for reduced charges.
Since these situations are so case-specific, you’ll want to speak with an attorney before trying this strategy.
However, in most cases you can ask for community service or treatment programs as a trade-off for jail time.
Ask for a Restricted License
Even if you’re convicted of DUI in Virginia, it’s not the end of the world.
If you have to travel through Virginia for work or school, you can ask the judge to issue you a restricted license.
Generally, these are awarded when license revocation would otherwise negatively impact an individual’s ability to hold a job or remain in school.
Even though Virginia has tough DUI laws, fighting charges in Virginia as an out-of-state commuter is not necessarily a losing battle.
If you feel that the officer violated your rights or charged you unjustly, you can try to get the judge to reduce or dismiss the charges.
No matter what, if you want to fight charges as an out-of-state commuter, you should hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who’s familiar with the local court.