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Driving After Being Designated as an Habitual Offender

In Virginia, if you have been adjudicated an habitual offender, you may not drive a vehicle while your revocation is in effect.   If you drive, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable with a mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail, unless your driving endangers the life, limb or property of another or you drive under the influence (DUI) after having been previously convicted of a specified DUI related offense, then the offense is a Class 6 felony with a mandatory minimum confinement of 12 months.  A second habitual offender offense is a Class 6 felony with a mandatory minimum confinement of 12 months, even if the second offense did not endanger life, limb or property of another.

In all cases, the sentences may be suspended where the operation of the vehicle is necessitated by an apparent extreme emergency.

If you've been charged with driving after being designated an habitual offender, don't make the common mistake of trying to go it without an experienced Virginia criminal defense lawyer.  You need an aggressive and knowledgeable Virginia lawyer who will fight for your rights and, where appropriate, negotiate a favorable outcome. Let us be your legal advocate.

If limiting fines and avoiding or minimizing a jail sentence are important to you, call The Wilson Law Firm at 703-361-6100 or toll free at 1-888-384-5997 for a free, no obligation consultation. 

§ 46.2-357. Operation of motor vehicle by habitual offender prohibited.

A. It shall be unlawful for any person determined or adjudicated an habitual offender to drive any motor vehicle or self-propelled machinery or equipment on the highways of the Commonwealth while the revocation of the person's driving privilege remains in effect. However, the revocation determination shall not prohibit the person from operating any farm tractor on the highways when it is necessary to move the tractor from one tract of land used for agricultural purposes to another tract of land used for agricultural purposes, provided that the distance between the said tracts of land is no more than five miles.

B. Except as provided in subsection D, any person found to be an habitual offender under this article, who is thereafter convicted of driving a motor vehicle or self-propelled machinery or equipment in the Commonwealth while the revocation determination is in effect, shall be punished as follows:

1. If such driving does not of itself endanger the life, limb, or property of another, such person shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by a mandatory minimum term of confinement in jail of 10 days except in cases wherein such operation is necessitated in situations of apparent extreme emergency that require such operation to save life or limb, the sentence, or any part thereof, may be suspended.

2. If such driving of itself endangers the life, limb, or property of another or takes place while such person is in violation of §§18.2-36.118.2-51.418.2-266 or § 46.2-341.24, irrespective of whether the driving of itself endangers the life, limb or property of another and the person has been previously convicted of a violation of §§ 18.2-36.118.2-51.418.2-266 or §46.2-341.24, such person shall be guilty of a felony punishable by confinement in a state correctional facility for not less than one year nor more than five years, one year of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of confinement or, in the discretion of the jury or the court trying the case without a jury, by mandatory minimum confinement in jail for a period of 12 months. However, in cases wherein such operation is necessitated in situations of apparent extreme emergency that require such operation to save life or limb, the sentence, or any part thereof, may be suspended. For the purposes of this section, an offense in violation of a valid local ordinance, or law of any other jurisdiction, which ordinance or law is substantially similar to any provision of law herein shall be considered an offense in violation of such provision of law.

3. If the offense of driving while a determination as an habitual offender is in effect is a second or subsequent such offense, such person shall be punished as provided in subdivision 2 of this subsection, irrespective of whether the offense, of itself, endangers the life, limb, or property of another.

C. For the purpose of enforcing this section, in any case in which the accused is charged with driving a motor vehicle or self-propelled machinery or equipment while his license, permit, or privilege to drive is suspended or revoked or is charged with driving without a license, the court before hearing the charge shall determine whether the person has been determined an habitual offender and, by reason of this determination, is barred from driving a motor vehicle or self-propelled machinery or equipment on the highways in the Commonwealth. If the court determines the accused has been determined to be an habitual offender and finds there is probable cause that the alleged offense under this section is a felony, it shall certify the case to the circuit court of its jurisdiction for trial.

D. Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivisions 2 and 3 of subsection B, following conviction and prior to imposition of sentence with the consent of the defendant, the court may order the defendant to be evaluated for and to participate in the Boot Camp Incarceration Program pursuant to § 19.2-316.1, or the Detention Center Incarceration Program pursuant to §19.2-316.2, or the Diversion Center Incarceration Program pursuant to § 19.2-316.3.

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