When Does a DUI Become a Felony?

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If you are arrested in the state of Virginia for driving under the influence, it’s likely that you will be charged with a misdemeanor instead of a felony. Although both misdemeanor and felony offenses are classified as criminal charges, the former carries lesser punishments than the latter. That being said, any DUI offense can result in numerous punishments, which is why it’s important to put this type of case in the hands of an experienced Northern Virginia DUI lawyer.

DUI Felony Charges in Virginia

The state of Virginia classifies a DUI charge as a felony instead of a misdemeanor if it’s the third offense within ten years. If someone’s arrest meets that criteria, they will be charged with a Class 6 felony. And if someone is convicted of a fourth DUI charge, they will have to serve a mandatory sentence of one year in jail.

The mandatory minimum penalties for a third DUI conviction in Virginia vary based on whether those offenses occurred within a five or ten year period. If an individual is convicted of three offenses within five years, they will have to serve at least six months in jail. They will also face a minimum fine of $1,000. An individual’s vehicle will be subject to seizure and forfeiture to the Commonwealth of Virginia. And even if an individual is allowed to remain in possession of their vehicle, use of an ignition interlock device will be mandatory. These devices require the driver to submit a breath sample to start their vehicle and at subsequent intervals while it is running.

Anyone convicted of a 3rd DUI offense within 10 years will face the same types of penalties as described above. The main difference between the two mandatory minimum penalties is that the jail period for individuals who fall into this category is shortened to a minimum of 90 days. But given the fact that it’s still an extended period of time that can jeopardize someone’s job and will be on their record forever, it’s easy to understand why this is an issue that needs to be taken extremely seriously.

A DUI Misdemeanor Still Needs to Be Taken Seriously

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, even though a first time DUI offense is classified as a misdemeanor in the Commonwealth of Virginia, this offense still falls into the category of a criminal charge. That charge can carry serious consequences, to include possible jail time, having your license revoked for one year, and being fined as much as $2,500. A first-time offense and conviction will also require going through a DUI education program. These punishments can become even more severe if a DUI offense includes a sentence enhancement due to a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeding .15.

Given all the potential consequences of a first or subsequent DUI offense, anyone facing this type of charge should enlist the help of a knowledgeable Northern Virginia DUI Lawyer. At NoVA Law Firm, we have fifteen years of experience working hard to protect the best interests of our clients. While other lawyers all too often take the route of working to settle a case without a thorough investigation, we have the resources to examine each aspect of a case, to include challenging the officer’s decision to stop you in the first place and his subsequent decision to arrest you. With our aggressive approach and extensive courtroom experience we are often able to construct a strong defense for our clients based on details many other attorneys overlook.

If you’ve been charged with a DUI and are concerned about the misdemeanor or felony charges that you’re facing, contact The NoVA Law Firm as soon as possible for a free consultation about your case. Our phone number is (703) E-LAW-FIRM, or (703) 352-9347.

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About the Author: Eric Clingan

About the Author: Eric Clingan

Eric Clingan is an experienced Criminal Defense attorney and the founder of the NoVA Law firm. He focuses his practice on defending residents of Northern Virginia charged with DUIs, reckless driving, drug charges, and other criminal accusations

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