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When is a DUI a felony in Virginia?

On Behalf of | Oct 28, 2022 | Criminal defense |

A DUI conviction in Virginia comes with many penalties including fines, an ignition interlock requirement and potential jail time. You will also have a criminal record and face damage to your career or reputation. Depending on what you do for a living, you could even lose your job.

Because a DUI conviction is so serious, you may be surprised to learn that most DUI convictions are misdemeanors. A DUI charge is a felony charge only under certain circumstances.

When a DUI is a felony

Under Virginia law, your third DUI conviction within a 10-year period will be a felony conviction. Additionally, if your DUI charge also involves an accident with injuries, you will face a felony conviction.

The felony is considered a class 6 felony and mandatory minimum penalties include:

  • A fine of $1,000
  • An ignition interlock requirement
  • 90 days in jail
  • Loss of your driver’s license

The loss of your driver’s license is indefinite, meaning there is no way to determine exactly when you can drive again. You can try applying for restricted driving privileges 3 years after your conviction or full privileges 5 years after, but there are no guarantees.

Explore potential defenses

These are extremely severe penalties, and you should take an aggressive approach to fighting a felony DUI charge.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can thoroughly investigate your case and determine if any defenses are available.

For example, you may have been illegally stopped, or there could be evidence that any breath or chemical tests results were tampered with. Even an unintentional error with test results could cast doubts on their accuracy and result in a dismissed charge.

Negotiating your charge down

Depending on the situation, your felony charge could be reduced to a misdemeanor charge with strong and effective negotiation. If your situation involves a third DUI within 10 years, you should examine possible challenges to prior convictions to help you avoid the felony charge.

Any felony charge should be taken seriously. It is important to learn about all of your legal options.