In 2016, there were 19,925 convictions for DUI violations in Virginia. That means that nearly 20,000 drivers lost their driving privileges, paid fines of up to $2,500 and may have even spent up to 12 months in jail. Moreover, their vehicle may have been permanently forfeited (in other words, it’s been taken away and you’ll never get it back).
If you have been arrested for a Virginia DUI, your first mistake was drinking (or using drugs) and then driving off in a car. Don’t compound that first mistake by making any of these additional mistakes:
1. Not realizing the full and true consequences of a DUI
We already addressed the penalties associated with a DUI, but what about all those other consequences? If you’re lucky, you might be able to get a restricted license . But if your driver’s license is suspended or revoked, will you be able get to work or class? How are you going to get your children to school, lessons, events or appointments? If you can’t get to work, how are you going to keep your job? What about the increased cost of your car insurance that may make it more difficult for you to pay your rent or your mortgage? Moreover, a DUI conviction may cause you to lose security clearance or your professional license.
The penalties are bad enough, but the consequences can be life-altering.
2. Failing to appear for a court date
Never, ever miss a court date. Not showing up for court will result in the judge issuing a bench warrant for your arrest. The penalties for failure to appear (FTA) are stiff: A misdemeanor charge automatically becomes a Class 1 misdemeanor, with stiffer fines. If you are facing a felony charge, failing to appear makes you guilty of a Class 6 felony, punishable by a fine of up to $2,500, imprisonment of one year (or up to 10 years), or both a fine and jail time.
3. Believing you can represent yourself
Abraham Lincoln may have said it best: “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” DUI (or DWI) offenses are taken very seriously in the Commonwealth. The penalties and consequences for a conviction are severe. If you have been arrested for a DUI, it is wise to have an experienced DUI attorney on your side who understands the complexity of mounting a strong DUI defense.
4. Drinking alcohol while your DUI case is pending
Remember, alcohol is what got you into this mess in the first place. You don’t need to be driving in your car after having a few to get into trouble. And by the way, under Virginia law, “the court may enter an order of interdiction prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages” to anybody who has been convicted of a DUI.
If ever there was a time to practice alcohol abstinence, this might be it.
5. Driving after your license is suspended for a DUI
We hope that after everything you’ve read in this article to this point, you understand the seriousness of a DUI conviction. Just like you should never, ever miss a court date, you should never drive when your license has been suspended (or revoked) for a DUI. The short list of penalties for doing so include:
- Having your vehicle impounded or immobilized
- Being confined in jail for up to 10 days
- Having your license suspended or revoked for ”or the same period for which it had been previously suspended or revoked.”
Get experienced, skilled defense representation against DUI charges
The NoVa Law Firm has helped clients throughout Northern Virginia who were arrested for a DUI. Make sure that you get legal representation that is proven effective to help protect your driving privileges, your livelihood and your reputation. For more information, please call our office at (703) 352-9347 and speak with our best DUI attorney or contact us online.