How Many DUIs Does It Take To Get Jail Time?

by gclatworthy on July 18, 2012

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(US criminal law) If you’re considering drinking and driving, and you think that you’ll simply lose your license or pay a fine if you get caught, you may want to think again. The fact is, in states like Virginia for example, impaired drivers can face jail time, even on their first offense.

DUI as a Misdemeanor Charge

Being charged with a first-offense DUI is considered a misdemeanor, and the penalties for misdemeanor offenses include fines not to exceed $1000.00 and up to a year in jail. Of course, this may be in addition to the jail time that you may have to serve immediately after your arrest. To make matters worse, if you aren’t offered bail, you may have to stay in jail until you can appear before a judge, and this may mean weeks or even months in jail before your trial.

How Circumstances Affect Your Case

Many times, the circumstances surrounding your DUI arrest will determine whether you receive jail time or not, but it’s important to keep in mind that, upon conviction, the possibility for jail time always exists. In most cases, arrested drivers who have been charged with a DUI will avoid jail time if they have been cooperative with the legal process and there were no injuries or accidents involved in their DUI charges; however, law enforcement officials and judges often have discretion when issuing charges and sentences, so you may not know that you’ll face jail time until you are sentenced.

DUI as a Felony Charge

In some cases, receiving a DUI may result in a felony charge, at which point you will almost certainly face time behind bars. Felony DUI charges usually occur when a person has prior DUI convictions, when serious injuries have occurred to others as a result of an intoxicated driver or when an arrested driver assaults responding law enforcement officers. Drivers who have been charged with a felony DUI will often face jail sentences that range from two years to ten years, but once again, judges have a great deal of discretion when issuing sentences.

Protect Yourself

If you or a loved one have been charged with a DUI in Virginia, it’s important to contact a Virginia DUI attorney to discuss your options as soon as possible. Many times, partnering with a Virginia criminal defense lawyer will allow drivers charged with a DUI to avoid jail time altogether, or in some cases, receive a reduced jail sentence. This can be an invaluable service if you need to remain free to provide for yourself or your family, and it can also allow you to avoid the potential hazards found in jail environments.

Remember, drinking and driving in Virginia or any other state is an incredibly dangerous choice to make, and it may cost you not only your freedom, but also your life. If you plan to drink, always have a designated driver available who can safely drive you to your destination. Don’t risk jail time, fines and other penalties – don’t drink and drive.

About the author
This article was written by Georgina Clatworthy, a legal writer and former editor of respected legal site She is now a contributory writer for the legal professionals at The Wilson Law Firm who provide expert legal representation for those facing DUI charges.

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