Virginia Drunk Driving Laws

When is a Driver Considered to be Legally Drunk in Virginia?

  • Non-commercial drivers age 21+ are considered legally drunk when their blood alcohol level is .08 or more.
  • Drivers of commercial vehicles are legally drunk when their blood alcohol level is .04 percent or greater. In Virginia, school bus drivers are commercial drivers.
  • Drivers under 21 are legally drunk when their blood alcohol level is
    .02 or more.

Penalties for Drunk Driving in Virginia

  • A first-time offender faces up to 12 months in jail and a minimum fine of $250 to $2,500. If, however, the offender’s BAC was at least .15, but not more than .20, there is an additional mandatory minimum jail term of five days. If the offender’s BAC was more than .20, the additional mandatory minimum jail term is 10 days. First-time offenders will have their driving privileges suspended for one year.
  • A person who commits a second DWI within five years of the first offense faces one month to one year in jail and a minimum fine of $250 to $2,500. If, however, the second offense occurred within 10 years of the first offense and the offender’s BAC was at least .15 but not more than .20 , there is an additional mandatory minimum jail term of 10 days. If the offender’s BAC was more than .20, the additional mandatory minimum jail term is 20 days. Also, the offender will be fined a mandatory minimum fine of $500, but the fine can be as high as $2,500. Those who commit a second offense within 10 years of the first will have their driver’s licenses revoked for three years.
  • A person convicted of three DWI offenses within a ten year period faces an indefinite license revocation, a minimum fine of $1,000, and prosecution as a Class 6 felony, a mandatory minimum 90 day jail sentence as well as permanent forfeiture of the person's vehicle, if the person is the sole owner.
  • A person who is convicted of a fourth or subsequent DWI in a 10-year period is subject to a minimum of one year in prison and a fine of $1,000 to $2,500. Those who commit a fourth or subsequent offense will have their driver's licenses revoked indefinitely.

Additional Penalties for Drunk Driving While Accompanied by a Child 17 or Under

A person convicted of DWI while transporting a child 17 or under will be fined an additional $500 to $1,000 and must serve at least five days in jail.

Ignition Interlock

The sentencing judge may order a first-time offender to use an ignition interlock device for up to one year after the offender’s driver’s license is restored. Those who commit a second or subsequent offense and those who commit a DWI with a BAC of .15 or more must use an ignition interlock device for at least six months after driving privileges are restored. The judge can, however, order these offenders use the device for a period of time not to exceed the period of the license suspension.

Commercial Drivers

In addition to other penalties that may apply under Virginia’s DWI laws, a commercial driver who commits a first DWI while driving any vehicle will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for one year. If, however, the driver was operating a commercial vehicle and transporting hazardous materials at the time, the disqualification period is three years. A commercial driver who commits a second DWI while driving any vehicle within a 10-year period will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for life, which may or may not be reduced to a period of not less than 10 years.

Drivers Under 21

A driver under 21 who commits a DWI will forfeit his or her driver’s license for one year and be fined up to $500. A person who commits underage DWI may also be required to attend an alcohol safety action program and drive on a restricted license. If the offender is 18 or older and his or her BAC measured .08 or more, the offender may be subject to the penalties applicable to drunk drivers 21 and older.

Dram Shop

Virginia does not have a dram shop act.

Criminal Liability for Selling Alcohol to Minors

It is a crime for a licensed drinking establishment to sell alcohol to persons under 21. A violation of this law subjects the offender to up to 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both.

Criminal Liability for Furnishing Alcohol to Minors

It is a crime for a person to furnish alcohol to a person under 21. Violators face up to 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both. These offenders will also have their driver’s licenses suspended for up to one year.

Need more information on state laws? Learn more about the laws where you live.

Note: Our attorneys are licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, and Virginia. This information is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia, although if you are injured in an accident, we have relationships with other personal injury attorneys and lawyers throughout the United States.

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