Punishment to increase for subsequent DUI convictions in Virginia

As anyone who has been convicted of a DUI in Virginia can confirm, the penalties for such a conviction can be some of the most severe in the nation - especially if it happens to be the motorist's second DUI conviction in Virginia.

However, a bill recently passed by Virginia lawmakers is set to make the penalties even harsher in certain circumstances for subsequent DUI convictions.

Virginia House Bill 1559

Specifically, the bill - which is known as HB 1559 - states that anyone convicted of a felony DUI in Virginia will be considered guilty of a Class 6 felony if they are ever convicted of a subsequent DUI charge, regardless of how long ago the prior DUI occurred.

Consequently, this means that any motorist that falls under this new provision will be subject to a mandatory minimum incarceration of one year upon their subsequent DUI conviction - not to mention a $1000 mandatory minimum fine.

Furthermore, the motorist will face the same driver's license revocation period as if he or she had been convicted of a third DUI within 10 years - meaning he or she cannot even petition for license reinstatement until five years after his or her last DUI.

Seek assistance when facing a Virginia DUI

The penalties outlined in the new bill - which will go into effect in Virginia on July 1, 2013 - merely reinforces the importance of seeking the assistance of a knowledgeable DUI defense attorney if charged with a DUI in Virginia, particularly if the motorist was previously convicted of a felony DUI.

An experienced attorney can review the facts of the case in order to determine if the prosecutor will be able to meet the high burden of proof needed in alleged DUI cases. For instance, an attorney can help evaluate whether:

  • The traffic stop leading to the DUI charge was valid in the first place
  • The police administered the blood-alcohol-content (BAC) tests properly, and in accordance with the law
  • The police adequately explained how the testing process works under Virginia's implied consent law
  • The prior conviction was not valid due to enactment shortcomings
  • The record does not establish that the prior conviction occurred with the assistance of counsel
  • The record does not establish that the prior conviction was otherwise properly finalized

As these potential defenses illustrate, there are several defenses available that many people facing DUI charges may not even be aware of. Accordingly, if you have been charged with a DUI in Virginia, it is often best to seek the counsel of a skilled DUI defense attorney who can not only assist in reviewing all relevant evidence but help ensure that your rights are protected.