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In Virginia, like all other states, driving is a privilege granted to responsible citizens. Unfortunately, alcohol continues to play a part in many serious accidents and traffic related deaths, although individuals convicted of driving drunk are being assigned serious consequences for putting themselves and others in danger. Drivers owe it to themselves to understand more about DUIs and the penalties involved, so they understand the true risks the next time they are tempted to drink and drive.
Basic Dui Laws for The State of Virginia
Driving in the state of Virginia with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher is illegal. The “impaired” driver benchmark through out the U.S. is the .08% limit. In Virginia, commercial drivers are subject to a lower BAC limit of .04%, and drivers younger than age 21 are subject to a .02% BAC limit. Under the Virginia DUI law, drivers are also prohibited from operating vehicles under the influence of prescription drugs or controlled substances that may interfere with their ability to operate a vehicle safely.
It is difficult for individuals to know how many drinks will keep them under the .08 limit. The amount differs with each individual, and many variables factor in to a BAC score, including a person’s sex, weight, physical conditioning and body fat percentage. Some tables and calculators exist to provide a reference point based on a certain number of drinks, although not all of these factors are considered which renders the tables and calculators somewhat ineffective.
Virginia also upholds the implied consent law, meaning drivers agree, by accepting their license, to take a chemical test of breath, blood or urine if the presence of alcohol or drugs is suspected. If a person refuses testing, he will receive a charge of refusal to take a blood-alcohol test. Drivers who refuse testing may ultimately have their license suspended and receive many of the same penalties as somebody convicted of a DUI.
New legislation for Virginia’s DUI laws in 2010 allows the state to impound the car of an individual who has received a DUI conviction, yet continues to drive with a license that has been suspended. The impound period is a minimum of three months.
Penalties Associated With Driving Under the Influence in Virginia
For individuals arrested on a drunk driving charge and convicted, a minimum fine of $250 will be assessed, and a driver’s license suspension of one year will be required. If an individual was caught driving under the influence, with a child younger than 18 years old in the car, a minimum five-day jail sentence must be served, along with the assessment of another $500-$1,000 in fines. Any driver convicted with a BAC between .15 and .20 when arrested receives at least five days in jail time, and anyone convicted with a BAC higher than .20 at the time of arrest will need to serve at least 10 days in jail. For individuals who were arrested with a BAC of .15 or above, an ignition interlock device is required. All convicted persons must also complete an alcohol safety action program.
For a second offender, jail ranges from a minimum of 20 days to one year, with a license suspension up to three years; a required ignition interlock device once the driver’s license is reinstated, and fines from $500-$1500 and participation in a complete alcohol safety action program.
Third offenders receive a minimum of 3 to 6 months in jail, minimum $1,000 fine, and the possibility of losing their license indefinitely. An individual may petition the court to try and get his license back, and if the court allows him to have his license, he will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in his vehicle.
SR-22 Requirements in Virginia
In the state of Virginia, drivers convicted of a DUI and other traffic offenses will most likely need to carry FR44 insurance. An FR 44 certification of financial responsibility is similar to an SR22 certification. In Virginia, the SR22 requirement is used for drivers who have a driver’s license suspension from a felony conviction, unsatisfied judgments or other violations.
Effects of a DUI on the Cost of Car Insurance in Virginia
The minimum requirements for auto insurance coverage in Virginia are $25,000 of bodily injury for one person, $50,000 of bodily injury for all persons in one accident, and $20,000 of property damage coverage. For drivers who are required to carry FR44 insurance, the coverage limits are double the state minimum requirement. FR44 drivers must carry $50,000 of bodily injury insurance for one person in one accident, $100,000 of bodily injury coverage for all persons in one accident, and $40,000 of property damage coverage.
In addition to the extra coverage required, drivers convicted of a DUI will be assigned to a higher risk group of drivers. A driver’s risk is assigned based on several factors, one of which is a driving record. Consequently, insurance premiums will increase due to the additional coverage acquired, as well as the extra cost related to being a high-risk driver.
Virginia Car Insurance Companies for High-Risk Drivers
Once an individual has a DUI conviction on his record, affordable auto insurance coverage may be slightly more difficult to find. There are specific insurance companies doing business in Virginia that can provide FR44 insurance.
Although a driver may be considered high risk, auto insurance rates can still vary substantially from one insurer to another. It is important that consumers comparison-shop and speak with several insurance companies before making buying decisions, as each person’s unique situation is evaluated differently by each insurance company. FR44 insurance is provided in Virginia by The General Automobile Insurance Company, Serenity Group Auto Insurance, Progressive Insurance and many smaller, regional firms. Additionally, websites like Esurance.com can save users time, by providing quotes from several different insurance companies in under 10 minutes.