No one wants to be arrested for DUI. But if you are, there’s a lot of confusion about exactly what sorts of consequences you face. We’ve all seen public awareness campaigns about drunk drivers going to jail, but the truth is that jail time is only shutterstock_178343474the tip of the iceberg when it comes to legal ramifications. Similarly, we’ve discussed other major fears in detail—like losing your license or getting an ignition interlock device. These are the penalties most people associate with DUI charges. But what about the lesser known ones?
In Virginia, judges have a wide variety of options in sentencing those convicted of DUI. Additionally, there are costs and penalties from the arrest itself. These penalties go beyond just the fines you may be expected to pay. Three of the big ones are:
- Alcohol Education and Treatment. The state of Virginia does understand that drunk driving is often a mistake made by an otherwise good person. This mistake could be due to misinformation (not realizing you were drunk enough to be “over the limit”) or it could be tied to a drinking problem. Accordingly, all DUI convicts must report to an Alcohol Safety Action Program as part of getting your license back. This program will either refer you to an alcohol education class, which is 20 hours of class time over 10 weeks, or to treatment for alcohol addiction.
- Impounded vehicle. In many cases, your vehicle will be released to you shortly after you are processed for your DUI arrest. But there are circumstances when it won’t. If you are caught driving without a license, or commit another DUI, your vehicle will be impounded immediately for 90 days, and up to 90 more if you’re convicted on this new charge. Not only will this deprive you of your vehicle, you will pay a very expensive impounding fee to get the car back. (If the car belongs to someone else they can petition to have it released, but they may face legal problems of their own if they knowingly let you use it.)
- Restitution. Virginia state laws allows convicted criminals to be charged a fee to help cover the cost of law enforcement. That means you may have to pay a $1,000 restitution fee on top of any fines. Not all judges will order this fee; it is usually only leveled if you caused an accident or injury.
Virginia’s DUI penalties are complicated and vary with the number of DUI convictions, the circumstances surrounding the DUI charge, your age and whether you had a valid driver’s license. If you are accused of DUI it’s important to have a lawyer who knows the system well. The Wilson Law Firm can help you. Contact us today for your free consultation.