In most cases, a DUI offense in Virginia is a misdemeanor offense. However, in some situations, a person can face a felony charge. Whether you are being charged with a felony or misdemeanor for drunk driving, it’s important to retain an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible to help with your defense.
When You Can Be Charged With a Felony DUI
In limited circumstances, a DUI is charged as a felony in Virginia. You may face a felony charge in the following situations:
- If you were convicted of a DUI twice within the last 10 years, you could face a Class 6 felony DUI charge.
- If you caused someone to suffer injuries or death as a result of your drunk driving—even in a first offense—you may face Class 6 felony charges.
While a Class 6 felony is the lowest level felony, a conviction can result in harsh penalties. You may face a prison sentence of between one and five years. However, the judge or jury has the discretion to sentence you to jail instead of prison and/or a fine of up to $2,500. The following are mandatory minimum sentences:
- 90-day minimum jail sentence for a third conviction within 10 years
- Six-month mandatory jail sentence if the third conviction occurred within five years
- Mandatory fine of $1,000
In addition, your driver’s license could be revoked indefinitely.
You can also face harsh penalties if convicted of a misdemeanor DUI. This can include a mandatory minimum $250 fine, possible mandatory jail sentence, and a driver’s license suspension. As with a felony conviction, you would have a permanent criminal record that could limit your ability to obtain a job and affect other aspects of your life long after you complete your sentence.
You Need an Experienced DUI Attorney
You need a skilled DUI attorney who can help you build a strong defense, so the charges might be dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense. To learn about our experience fighting for the rights of our clients charged with a DUI and how we can assist you, start an online chat to schedule your free consultation today.