If you're convicted of DUI in Virginia, your driver's license will be suspended. License suspension lengths vary depending on the facts of the case, but any amount of license suspension will significantly affect your ability to drive, work, and have a social life. There are ways to protect your rights and to have your license reinstated.
DUI driver's license suspensions are a serious part of Virginia's criminal law, but with the help of experienced Virginia DUI attorney Bryan J. Jones, you can fight the charges against you and protect your constitutional rights.
Virginia Administrative License Suspensions
An administrative license suspension (ALS) is a license suspension that occurs before you even get a trial. In most Virginia DUI cases, your ability to drive will be affected even though you are innocent until proven guilty.
An ALS will be imposed if a Virginia driver:
- is an adult whose breath test at the jail is 0.08% BAC or higher;
- is an underage drinker whose breath test registers 0.02% BAC or higher; or
- is charged with Refusal to take a blood or breath test.
Length of an ALS in Virginia
The length of an administrative license suspension depends on the number of DUIs for which you have been charged in the past.
- First Virginia DUI: 7-day driver's license suspension
- Second Virginia DUI: 60-day driver's license suspension or until your trial (whichever occurs first)
- Third or Subsequent Virginia DUI: driver's license is suspended until trial.
While a person is on ALS, he or she is not eligible to get a restricted license. This means that you will be unable to even get permission to drive to work or school.
Breath Test Refusal License Suspensions in Virginia
While refusing a breath or chemical test can be a way to get an ALS, it can result in more severe penalties after your refusal has been proven at trial. By operating a motor vehicle on Virginia roads, you are considered to have given implied consent for the government to take a blood or breath test upon your arrest for a DUI.
Under Virginia law, you are allowed to reasonably refuse to take blood or breath tests at the station, but doing so unreasonably will impact your ability to drive. If a person is shown to have unreasonably refused a blood or breath test, Virginia law requires the offender's driver's license to be suspended for 1 year.
A second refusal to consent to a breath test or blood test will result in a license suspension of 3 years and is also considered a Class 1 misdemeanor. If you are also convicted of DUI along with the refusal, license revocation will run consecutively (one after the other): one for the DUI and one for the refusal.
Again, a person is not eligible for a restricted driver's license under this type of driver's license suspension.
Driving Under the Influence Charges: Driver's License Suspensions
If you are convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) in Virginia, your driver's license will be suspended. The length of that suspension and your right to receive a restricted license depends on how many DUI's you have been convicted of.
- First Virginia DUI: The court will suspend your license for 12 months (1 year). You can obtain a restricted license after you are convicted of the offense.
- Second Virginia DUI within 5 or 10 years: The court will suspend your license for 3 years. You can obtain a restricted license 1 year after you are convicted of the offense if the prior DUI occurred within the past 5 years, otherwise, you can apply for a restricted license after 4 months.
- Third Virginia DUI within 10 years: The Court will suspend your license indefinitely. This means that your license will remain suspended until the Court determines it will grant you full privileges again (if it ever allows it). You can apply for a restricted driver's license after 3 years following your conviction.
If you receive another DUI while on a driver's license suspension, the revocation period will run consecutively to the period you are already serving. You will also likely face charges of driving on a suspended driver's license.
Ignition Interlock Devices: Restricted Driver's License Privileges
When a person is convicted of a DUI and requests a restricted license, the court will require that you place an ignition interlock device on your vehicle and any vehicles you operate in order to receive restricted driving privileges.
An ignition interlock device is a mechanism that measures the blood alcohol content (BAC) in your body before you can turn on your car. The driver blows into the device, and if it does not detect alcohol, the car will be able to start. If it detects the presence of alcohol, it will not allow the car to turn on. In many cases, these devices will record the information and report it to the court and your probation officer.
If you are convicted of a second, third, or subsequent DUI offense within 10 years, the court will require that an ignition interlock device be placed on every car you:
- co-own; or
in order to be granted restricted driving privileges.
Violations While on a Restricted License
If you violated the terms of your restricted license, your license can be revoked again, and with no opportunity for restricted license privileges during the time of those suspensions.
- First Restricted Driver's License Violation: 1-year driver's license suspension.
- Second, Third, or Subsequent Restricted Driver's License Violation: 3-year driver's license suspension.
Getting Your Full Driver's License Reinstated
To get your full driver's license reinstated without restrictions, you must meet certain requirements:
- Fulfill the suspension period;
- Prove payment of all court costs and fines;
- Obtain SR22 certificate of financial responsibility from an insurance company;
- Complete a Driver Improvement (DI) program;
- Complete the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action program;
- Install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle for a period of time; and
- Pay all reinstatement fees.
If your license was suspended indefinitely as the result of a third or subsequent DUI, you must also petition to have your driving privileges reinstated, which you can do after 5 years. It is more difficult but can be done with the help of an experienced attorney.