Virginia DWI Laws and Penalties:
Fairfax DUI Lawyer Discusses Commercial Drivers and the Implications of Operating Under the Influence (OUI) w/ a Commercial License
You can read Section 46.2-341.24(A) of the Virginia Code if you enjoy reading complicated areas of the law where Virginia defense attorneys spend much time referencing and cross-referencing sections and subsections. If you prefer to pass on a pounding headache, stay on this page.
This page is all about the Virginia DWI offense specific to Commercial drivers, Commercial driver’s license holders, and those who drive Commercial vehicles. If you meant to find out about regular Virginia DWI laws and the penalties depending on BAC, offense number, and much more from our Fairfax DWI Attorney and local Northern Virginia Defense Lawyer, here is the page viewed by thousands of people in Virginia already in only several short months.
All DWI Violations are Serious and Should be Handled by a Virginia DUI Attorney
DWI is such a serious offense regardless of the offense number or status of the defendant that it should go without saying: contacting a local Fairfax DUI lawyer or one of the best Fairfax criminal lawyers based on your own assessment after talking to several of them, is wise. What is not wise, however, is waiting too long to take that step.
Sometimes, People Need a Fairfax Criminal Lawyer to Preserve Their Way of Life
This offense — DWI when operating a commercial vehicle — is an even more problematic crime for the accused driver who makes his or her living on the highways, because a conviction likely will have an impact…a very negative impact.
Most commercial driver’s license holders are truckers, delivery drivers (such as car parts), but there are countless types of commercial vehicles on the roads, and thousands and thousands of employees working hard each day behind the wheel.
Since in Virginia, a conviction will effectively remove the ability to work by way of what is called an administrative disqualification, it is easy to see how important it is to hire counsel.
How is a Virginia Commercial Driver DWI or OUI Different from a Regular DUI?
Your local Northern Virginia DWI lawyer can explain whether or not specific code provisions apply to the facts of your case. For example, in a case involving a commercial driver and vehicle, it may be important to take measures to introduce key pieces of evidence to challenge the BAC level indicated by a method of testing, testimony, or a documentary piece of evidence.
It is a lesser included offense if the driver blows a .04 to .08, and similarly, there are additional provisions unique to this particular DWI-type offense making it an infraction to have any alcohol in the system while driving a commercial vehicle.
BE CAREFUL: if you are a commercial driver be aware of the zero-tolerance policy. If you are found with any alcohol in your system, prepare to face a criminal charge or a traffic infraction. See VA Code 46.2-341.31
Practical Pointer from our lead Fairfax DUI Attorney
It is important to find the right attorney. Some law firms handle many legal matters. These firms are called “General Practice Firms.”
Other law firms, like Vincenzes Law, PLLC, focus on one or two narrow areas. We refer to our firm as a “Virginia Criminal Defense Law Firm.”
To some people it does not matter if a lawyer spends time handling business law, divorce cases, estates, employment law, discrimination suits, personal injury, in addition to their DWI.
But other people prefer the type of attorney who is tailored to criminal defense and exclusive to representing those facing the justice system. We tend to agree with the logic and reasoning behind the latter thought process. After all, staying up-to-date and competent to defend these types of cases certainly requires knowledge of the latest criminal law cases dealing with relevant evidence rulings, scientific issues and defenses, comments by the Attorney General, Supreme Court Cases from the United States system and the Virginia Supreme Court, and much, much more. There are even DUI Law Colleges for defense attorneys to enroll in (not actual colleges).
Penalties for Virginia DWI when Driving Commercial Vehicle
Like many Virginia crimes, a first offense is treated differently than a subsequent offense.
First Offense: Commercial Driver DWI in Virginia
A first offense of operating a commercial vehicle while intoxicated is a Class 1 misdemeanor. Thus, 12 months possible confinement, a possible $2,500 fine, and in the case of this offense, a disqualification from holding a license (commercial license) in the Commonwealth. Many commercial drivers travel throughout different states, but if you are a trucker, for example, and are not worried about offenses outside of Virginia, think again. If an offense occurs out of state, the driver will still be disqualified from the commercial license holder’s privileges for a full year. Manslaughter is another matter, as the driver in that case will be disqualified for five years.
Second Offense Within 5 Years
A second offense within the same five years is punishable by a mandatory minimum fine of $200, and of course, possibly as much as $2,500 just like the first offense. The worst penalty (to most charged drivers) is the mandatory jail time.
Five days of the sentence is mandatory time, meaning it is active and cannot be suspended. Five days seems like a small length, but it does not seem so short when you are sitting in jail. On the other side of the coin, 12 months seems like a horrifically long jail sentence, but not so long if it is all suspended.
Second Offense Within 10 Years
The penalties are slightly less severe if a second offense occurs between the five and ten year point from the original offense. Again, the same minimum fine and maximum fine amounts exist, the jail term as part of the sentence must be at least month up to a year, but no mandatory jail time exists in such a case.
Things get more complicated (possibly): a lawyer will need to ask about all prior offenses, even if they occurred when you were a juvenile or in another state.
Third (and subsequent) Offense
If the third offense is within a ten year period, then the convicted driver would be fined $500 to $2,500; receive a jail sentence of two to 12 months…but…a…
Third Offense Within 5 to 10 Years of Priors
If the third offense is within 5 to 10 years of the others, then the judge must sentence the defendant to at least 10 days of active (not suspended) jail time.
Third Offense Within Five Years
A full month, or 30 days, is the mandatory jail time for this level of the offense. Even if a person was charged and convicted of DWI as a juvenile, and the offense was a regular non-commercial license holder DWI, it may count as a prior offense. Therefore, it is very important to hire an experienced criminal lawyer who focuses a substantial portion of his time handling traffic crimes and serious infractions. A third offense results in disqualification forever from again having a commercial driver’s license, or from even operating a commercial vehicle (in the Commonwealth of Virgina.
For related offenses, these pages may be of interest:
Driving on revoked license (after forfeiture, due to DWI)
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