In general, yes.
If you’re convicted of a first or second DUI offense in Virginia, the court will require that you complete an alcohol safety class as part of your punishment.
The Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP) is a program mandated by Virginia Code § 18.2-271.1 to help reduce alcohol and drug-related fatalities in our state.
Why Do I have to Complete VASAP Classes?
Judges assign several penalties for DUI convictions in Virginia.
For your first and second DUI conviction, a judge will order the completion of VASAP classes as part of your sentence.
The judge’s referral to VASAP is a mandatory requirement designed to provide education on Alcohol Safety.
One way to view this mandatory referral is that VASAP takes the place of additional jail time.
Think of the VASAP as a tradeoff in which you complete a safety course in exchange for a lower punishment.
For this reason, on a third or subsequent conviction, you will not be eligible to complete this program.
However, if your VASAP assessment indicates that intervention in your case is not appropriate, “the court, for good cause, may decline to order participation in such a program.”
After your DUI conviction, the court will place you on probation and require that you report to your local VASAP office within 15 days of your conviction.
“To improve highway safety by decreasing the incidence of driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs, leading to the reduction of alcohol and drug-related fatalities.”
To achieve that mission, VASAP consists of classes, drug or alcohol treatment, counseling, or other court-mandated options.
The court will normally determine what your individual VASAP will look like based on the details of your case.
However, VASAP enrollment generally follows a specific process.
After you arrive at your local VASAP office, a representative will ask you several questions.
These questions and the subsequent evaluation will determine your dependence on the substance, and how much education or treatment you’ll need.
VASAP may decide that you need additional education, treatment, or monitoring based on how you answer these questions, as well as the judge’s recommendation.
They will also make a decision about how much time you should spend in each of these stages. This whole process is called intake.
The VASAP representative will always assign classes for you to take. They will refer you to an approved course that’s convenient to where you work or live.
These classes usually take the form of weekly, 2-hour classes which you can complete over the course of around 10 weeks.
In addition to the mandatory safety classes, the VASAP representative may determine that you’ll also need further treatment for drug or alcohol abuse.
If so, the court will also order that you go to a recommended amount of treatment in these areas before they reinstate your driver’s license.
If you’re ordered to go through VASAP, just choosing and enrolling in a VASAP class won’t get your license back.
You need to make sure you meet all the requirements before going back to the judge.
In general, there are three tasks you need to complete before a judge will consider reinstating your driving privileges.
Complete Your VASAP
In order to regain your license, you’ll have to fulfill all of the VASAP requirements.
This means completing 10 weeks of safety classes and finishing any recommended treatment programs.
Pay all Fees
VASAP is not supported by any federal, state, or local taxes.
All classes and treatment that you take under VASAP’s orders are paid for by you.
You must pay all fees before you can say you have completed the requirements.
Finally, you must be cooperative during all of your classes and treatment sessions.
In other words, any disruptive or uncooperative behavior will be reported, and you will not receive credit for your class.
You must attend all classes (you’ll have to arrange make-up classes in the event of an illness or emergency), and you can’t be late to class or treatment.
Finally, you must stay alcohol and drug-free while you are in VASAP. Representatives may test randomly for alcohol or drugs.
If you fail the test or refuse to participate, they’ll report you as non-compliant.
Ignition Interlock Devices (IID)
While not directly related to the VASAP, it’s important to note that if you apply for a restricted driver’s license, the court will require that you install an ignition interlock device onto your vehicle.
With your restricted driver’s license, you can drive to work and your VASAP classes, but you’ll have to use the IID to start your car.
An ignition interlock device is a breath-testing device that’s connected to the ignition of your car.
Before you can start your car, you’ll have to breathe into the device, so it can register that you haven’t been drinking.
It’s important to remember that if you have been ordered to use an IID, you can’t drive any car that doesn’t have an IID installed.
In other words, if you drive more than one car, you’ll have to install an IID on every car you drive.
You’ll be responsible for paying the fee to install the device.
What if I Don’t Comply with VASAP?
If you get a DUI, you must comply with the court’s sentence. If a judge orders you to complete VASAP, you have to do it.
Lack of funds, child care, or transportation are all important concerns, but they won’t serve as adequate excuses for not attending VASAP.
If you decide not to comply with VASAP, several things can happen.
Your Case Returns to Court
Successful completion of the VASAP is a part of your sentence. In other words, the judge sent you to the program in order to keep you out of jail.
When VASAP reports your non-compliance to the court, the judge may decide to either lift your suspended sentence or impose a new jail sentence for your violation of the court’s order.
You’ll Lose Your Driving Privileges Indefinitely
If the VASAP was a part of your DUI sentencing, then you won’t regain your driving priveledges until you complete the program.
If you are convicted of a first or second DUI in Virginia, you’ll most likely have to complete VASAP classes as part of your sentencing.
The Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program is designed to rehabilitate those who have alcohol or drug-related traffic convictions.
VASAP always requires classes, but can also involve substance abuse treatment or monitoring.
If you have a restricted license so that you can go to work and attend VASAP, you’ll also have to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) on your vehicle.
When you apply, VASAP will give you a list of approved vendors for classes and treatment, and for installing an IID.
However, you’ll be responsible for scheduling all appointments and for all fees relating to VASAP.