Virginia lawmakers are busy throughout every legislative session, but many of the bills they pass become effective on July 1 following the respective year. While the media may cover some of the measures that are newsworthy because of controversy or impact, many of them go into effect without much fanfare. For anyone arrested or convicted of DUI, the lack of attention could have a significant effect on your case. There may be pros that benefit you or cons to avoid.
The best strategy to obtain a favorable outcome is to retain a Virginia DUI defense lawyer who has an in-depth understanding of the updates to drunk driving laws. A few that took effect in July 2020 include:
Restricted Licenses for First-Time DUI: Under one updated DUI law, certain individuals convicted of drunk driving will no longer be subjected to the extensive restrictions when his/her driver’s license is suspended. There are a few criteria you must meet, including:
- The conviction must be a first-time DUI;
- Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) must be .15 or less;
- You must make a motion to request the court grant a restricted license; and,
- You must have a functioning, certified ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle for the one-year period.
If you do not qualify under all the statutory requirements, you still have another option: The court may allow you to drive under limited circumstances if you agree to refrain from consuming alcohol and attend an alcohol education program. Your compliance is measured by a remote alcohol monitoring device for at least six months.
Restricted Licenses for First-Time BAC Test Refusal: Another update makes changes to Virginia’s implied consent statute, and it also affects individuals who seek to drive with a restricted license during the time period in which driving privileges would normally be suspended. If you refuse to allow a blood or urine chemical test and are convicted for violating the implied consent law, you must wait 30 days after conviction to petition the court for a restricted license. An IID will be required and you must complete an alcohol safety program.
Unlawful Driving After a DUI: This bill clarifies the offense of operating a motor vehicle on Virginia highways under any of the following conditions:
- Driving after your driver’s license was revoked for DUI and other traffic-related violations;
- Operating a vehicle in violation of the terms of your restricted license;
- Failing to have an IID on a vehicle if one is required by the court; and,
- Driving a car on a restricted, suspended, or revoked license, when you have a BAC of .02 or more.
Offenses Involving IID Circumvention: The IID plays a key role in allowing you to drive on a restricted license, so the penalties for tampering with it or circumventing its functions can lead to serious charges. A violation of the law is a Class 1 Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail, a maximum fine of $2,500, or both. Circumvention has been designated as a criminal offense before the recent update, which affects the venue: If you are charged with IID tampering, your case will proceed in the court system where the offense occurred OR where the order requiring the IID was originally entered.
Virginia DUI Defense Attorney Right Away for Legal Assistance
These updates to Virginia drunk driving (DUI) laws are just a few of the changes lawmakers enact every year, so there could be serious implications for your DUI case if you do not stay current on the laws. Our team at Shannon & Associates, P.C. is knowledgeable on the most recent legal developments every year, as one of our core practice areas is defending individuals charged with drunk driving. To learn more about how we can help with your case, please contact our office in Chesapeake, VA to set up a consultation.