Essentially, if you get convicted of DWI the first time, you could get up to a year in jail, so that’s from a range of $0 up to $2,500 fine. You could also get a jail sentence of 0 days up to 1 year in jail. If a person is convicted of that, because of the way they calculate jail time for misdemeanors, in most instances, you would only do half of whatever they impose. So, as a practical matter, it’s 0 days to 6 months.
It’s a slight difference if you have higher blood alcohol content or second offenses on DWI. If a person is convicted of the first offense again, they have to do a program called the Alcohol Safety Action Program, those people, they send you to a classroom, education portion, and then they monitor your behavior during the year to make sure you didn’t get in trouble again.
That would include paying your fines and costs, attending all of your classes, not driving when you shouldn’t be driving because of your restrictions, and making sure that you didn’t violate the device they put in your car called “The Ignition Interlock” or the rules related to that.
Another thing a person has to get if they get a DWI is an ignition interlock device in their car if they want to drive. So, if you want to be able to go to work, want to be able to go to your doctor, you want to take your kids to school, you want to take your kids or some dependent from your family to the doctor, you get a restricted driver’s license but to use that restricted, you have to have this ignition interlock.
After 30 days but before 60 days, you have to go to the DMV, the Division of Motor Vehicles, and pay a fine called a reinstatement fee. It’s a fine to get your regular license back. There is a fine for it but you have to carry that new license with you for the rest of the year when you drive, so you have to go there and essentially pay that fine.
Finally, you’re going to be required to get a high risk insurance rider on your insurance policy so that if you get another accident during that year, there’s the additional coverage for it. That insurance policy can increase your insurance rates for that year for $1,000 or so, so it can be expensive and one of the bigger parts of the things that you’ll pay during the year for a first offense of DWI.
What Happens if the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is Elevated?
In Virginia, if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.15 to 0.2, then that’s considered elevated. If you are convicted of that, you get a mandatory 5 days in jail for it. In addition to everything else, in addition to ASAP, in addition to monetary fine, in addition to possible jail, in addition to the insurance rider, in addition to the ignition interlock, you’ll do 5 days in jail.
If, on the other hand, your blood alcohol content was 0.2 or more, so in other words, it’s elevated but even higher, then it’s 10 days in jail and in addition to everything else, you have 10 days in jail and for that, you don’t do regular misdemeanor jail time or you do half of the time, it’s you actually have to do 10 full days in jail.
What are the Penalties for a Repeat DWI Offender?
If you get charged with a second DWI, there are two ways they break that up. The first one is if you have had a DWI 10 years all the way going back to 5 years ago, so 5 to 10 years ago, the penalty is 20 days in jail. So, for that, if you get convicted of that, you’re going to actually serve a full 20 days in jail. In addition, you cannot get a restricted driver’s license for the first 4 months after you’re being convicted, you’ll be on foot.
From the 4th month going forward, if you want a restricted driver’s license, you can have it, it doesn’t go for one year, it goes for an additional 32 months, so all together your license would be affected for 36 months. So, it’s 32 months where you can have a restricted, and during that time, you’re going to need the ignition interlock in your car.
If you also have an elevated blood alcohol content, then it’s an additional 5 or 10 days depending on how elevated your blood alcohol content is. On the other hand, if your DWI was the last one that you got was 5 years or less ago, then you’re going to serve 30 days in jail. And in addition to that, you cannot have a restricted driver’s license for 12 months; after 12 months, you can have a restricted but it goes for 2 years and during that time, you have to have an ignition interlock device. So, those are the penalties for second DWI.
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