Harrisonburg DUI Accident Lawyer
When drivers drive while intoxicated, they lack the coordination, judgment, and reactions needed to drive safely and avoid accidents. Unfortunately, many Virginia drivers disregard drunk driving laws and cause thousands of preventable accidents every year.
According to data published by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), between 5 and 10 percent of crashes that occur in the Commonwealth each year are alcohol-related. If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident in Harrisonburg or the surrounding areas, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you pursue the money to cover your medical bills and related expenses.
Kendall Law Firm is dedicated to helping accident victims and has a history of successful case results. To learn more about holding a drunk driver financially responsible and how we can help after a Harrisonburg drunk driving accident, contact us for a free initial case review.
Harrisonburg Drunk Driving Laws
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, driving while intoxicated (DWI) is the official term for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or intoxicating drugs. A person does not have to be drinking alcohol to be arrested for DWI in Virginia.
Conditions Where According To Virginia Law Are Considered legally Impaired And May Be Arrested For DWI
- Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above the legal limit as indicated by a chemical test, such as a blood or breathalyzer test. By operating a motor vehicle in Virginia, licensed drivers agree to submit to breathalyzer or blood tests upon arrest for suspected DWI. Drivers who “unreasonably” refuse to take blood or breath tests may be subject to a one-year license suspension for a first-time refusal.
- A law enforcement officer determines you are too impaired to drive after a series of field sobriety tests (FSTs), even if your BAC is below the legal limit.
You have a blood concentration of more than 0.02 mg of cocaine per liter of blood, more than 0.01 mg of PCP per liter, or more than 0.1 mg of methamphetamine or MDMA per liter.
There are different DWI limits for different types of drivers, typically based on BAC measurements taken by police officers.
- Drivers 21 years old or older – It is illegal for drivers of legal drinking age to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC exceeding 0.08 percent.
- Drivers under the age of 21 – Virginia has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking. Those under the age of 21 may be charged with DWI for driving with a BAC exceeding 0.02 percent.
- Commercial vehicle operators – It’s illegal for commercial drivers such as truck drivers to operate their rigs with a BAC exceeding 0.04 percent.
Penalties for DWI Conviction
Drunk drivers in Virginia may be held both criminally and civilly liable for causing a DWI accident.
Penalties For Initial And Subsequent DWI Convictions In Virginia
- First-time offenses – First-time DWI convictions are punishable by a one-year revocation of your driver’s license and a mandatory minimum fine of $250.
- Second-time offenses – Penalties for second-time DWI convictions include a three-year revocation of your license, a mandatory minimum fine of $500, and up to one year in jail. There is a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 20 days for a second conviction within five years of the first and a minimum sentence of ten days for a second conviction within ten years.
- Third-time offenses – Third-time DWI offenses are prosecuted as Class 6 felonies. Penalties for conviction include indefinite license revocation and a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000. There is a mandatory minimum sentence of six months’ jail time for a third offense within five years. Penalties for a third offense within ten years involve a 90-day mandatory minimum jail sentence and permanent vehicle forfeiture.
- Fourth-time offenses – A conviction of a fourth or subsequent DWI offense carries mandatory minimum penalties of one year in jail.
- BAC exceeding 0.15 – If a chemical test indicates that a drunk driver had a BAC higher than 0.15 percent but less than 0.20 percent at the time of arrest, penalties upon conviction involve mandatory minimum jail terms in addition to other punishments. For first-time offenders, the minimum jail term is five days. For second-time offenders, the minimum jail term is ten days.
- BAC exceeding 0.20 – If chemical tests indicate that a driver’s BAC was 0.20 or higher at the time of arrest, the mandatory minimum jail sentences are more severe. First-time offenders face a minimum of ten days in jail, while second-time offenders face at least 20 days in jail.
In addition to the fines, jail time, and other penalties listed above, a DWI conviction in the state of Virginia could carry other consequences.
If a person is arrested for driving after having his or her license suspended for a DWI offense, their vehicle may be impounded for 90 days. Following a DWI conviction, the court also has the authority to impound the vehicle for another 90-day period.
A criminal record
Any DWI offenses in Virginia are reported to the statewide Central Criminal Records Exchange. This means drivers arrested for DWI can end up with permanent criminal records.
Ignition interlock devices
The court enforces restricted driving privileges in Virginia by using ignition interlock devices, which prohibit drivers from operating their vehicles while under the influence. First-time DWI offenders are required to install these devices on at least one vehicle and any other vehicles they operate under their restricted driving privileges.
Alcohol Safety Action Programs
Those convicted of DWI are required to submit to screening and probationary oversight through a local Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP). This process involves at least 20 hours of classwork within a ten-week period and is necessary for those who wish to have their licenses reinstated. First-time offenders are on probation for one year, while second-time and subsequent offenders are on probation for three years.
Payment to local emergency services
The Harrisonburg Code of Ordinances holds drivers convicted of DWI liable for the costs of emergency services needed to respond to local DWI crashes and incidents. Offenders may be required to cover up to $1,000 of the cost of dispatching law enforcement officers, firefighters, or other rescue personnel.
Consequences for underage drivers
Drivers under the age of 21 may face administrative license suspension (ALS) if they are caught driving after illegally consuming alcohol. Underage drivers with a BAC between 0.02 and 0.07 percent are also subject to a one-year suspension of their driving privileges and either a mandatory minimum fine of $500 or at least 50 hours of community service. Underage drivers with a BAC of 0.08 or higher are subject to the same penalties as drivers 21 and older.
A DWI criminal conviction, while appropriate, will not cover your medical expenses related to a DWI accident. In addition to criminal penalties, a drunk driver may face civil liability for injuries suffered by others in a DWI accident. A person injured in a crash caused by an intoxicated driver may seek compensation for medical expenses, future medical expenses, loss of income due to missed work, pain and suffering, and vehicle damage. A DWI personal injury lawsuit is a separate civil action that you may pursue.
Fighting For Injury Victims In Harrisonburg
The personal injury team at Kendall Law Firm is entirely devoted to helping Virginia accident victims, including people harmed by drunk drivers. When you make the decision to work with Kendall Law Firm, our team will do everything we can to support you.
Here’s What Our Harrisonburg DUI Accident Lawyers Can Do
- Helping you understand your legal rights and whether you have a right to file a personal injury claim against a drunk driver
- Assisting you in your search for medical specialists who can treat your injuries
- Managing important deadlines for your injury claim
- Conducting an independent investigation of the crash to identify useful evidence
- Working with experts such as accident reconstructions specialists to understand how the accident occurred
- Communicating with other insurers, and lawyers on your behalf
- Negotiating for the full and fair compensation you need for your recovery
- Representing you in court, if the insurance company refuses to offer a reasonable insurance settlement
Contact A DWI Lawyer In Harrisonburg
The Kendall Law Firm team is available to review the details of your Harrisonburg DWI accident and provide answers today. With more than 30 years of experience in Virginia personal injury law, we know what it takes to hold drunk drivers accountable and help you seek maximum compensation.
To get started with your free initial consultation, call us at (434) 326-4350 or contact us online now.