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The Wilson Law Firm

What is Administrative License Suspension in Virginia?

If you find yourself in the unpleasant situation of being arrested for DUI, there will be a lot of things going through your mind. There’s nothing pleasant about being arrested nor about the unwanted attention you’re likely to get in the community. However, one concern that may come up over and over is: will I still be allowed to drive?

There’s a lot of misinformation about how license suspension works in Virginia. You’d probably assume that your license cannot be suspended unless you’re actually convicted of DUI. After all, everyone is innocent until proven guilty, right? But in Virginia and many other states, license suspension begins as soon as you’re arrested for DUI—even though you haven’t gone to trial yet. This is called Administrative License Suspension, or ALS.

ALS is handled by the Department of Motor Vehicles, not by the courts. It’s the state’s way of making sure that potential drunk drivers aren’t back on the road during the time from arrest to trial. If that sounds unfair to you, you aren’t alone; most people charged with DUI are shocked to learn that this takes effect before their trial. ALS is issued automatically after virtually every DUI charge.

The duration of the ALS is not the same for everyone, however:

  • For first time offenders, ALS will suspend your license for seven days.
  • For a second offense the ALS lasts for 60 days, or until you go to trial, whichever is quicker.
  • For a third offense and beyond, the ALS will last until you go to trial, no matter how long that takes.

ALS doesn’t only apply to DUI charges as such, however. Refusing to take a breath test when accused of DUI is also illegal, and ALS will kick in if you refuse the breath test as well. It’s always best to cooperate with police and accept the breath test, even if you think you may be over the legal limit.

Even the first time ALS of seven days can be a major burden. Missing up to a week of work can be a disaster, especially if you’ve already missed days due to being in jail. The longer ALS periods are even more severe.

There are ways to get limited driving privileges, however. It’s possible to apply for restricted driving privileges from the DMV even while ALS is in effect. This can allow you to drive to work, school, and doctor’s appointments, which can help you keep your life on track as you await the next step of the legal process.

If you have been arrested for drunk driving, don’t try to navigate these complex rules on your own. The Wilson Law Form can help you apply for restricted driving privileges and will fight for you both in and out of court. Call us today for a FREE consultation on how to proceed with your case.

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