What Kind of Sentence to Expect For Your First DWI
In Virginia, a DWI conviction is a Class 1 misdemeanor (the most serious type). One possible penalty is jail time. If the defendant’s BAC is below a .15, Virginia law does not require the defendant to serve any jail time and the court will probably not give the defendant a custodial sentence. However, this is no guarantee; if the court finds the defendant’s conduct was especially egregious even if the defendant’s BAC is below a .15, the court may impose a jail sentence.
If the defendant’s BAC is between a .15 and .20, Virginia requires that the defendant serve a minimum of five days in jail. The usual 50% reduction for good time served does not apply to this sentence so the defendant must serve the full five days. If the BAC is above a .20, the sentence increases to a minimum of 10 days.
Driver’s License Suspension
Jail time is not the only penalty for a first-time DWI conviction. When a defendant is arrested for a DWI, his driver’s license is administratively suspended for seven days. Upon conviction of a DWI, the defendant’s driver’s license will be suspended for 1 year. Many first-time DWI offenders request (and are granted) a “restricted license.” This license allows the defendant to drive back and forth to work, to school, medical facilities, court-ordered programs for alcohol counseling, and a few other exceptions. The court will order the defendant to enroll in an alcohol counseling course through the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program as a condition of carrying a restricted license.
Other Fines, Fees, and Restrictions
The defendant must pay any court-ordered restitution. He will also have to pay a minimum $250 fine, up to $300. The court may also require the defendant to install an ignition interlock device on his vehicle. A DWI conviction will also appear on his criminal record.