No Diversion for First-Time Virginia DUI Offenders

VASAP no Virginia DUI diversionVirginia is one of the toughest states on DUIs. It doesn’t have a pre-trial diversion program that applies to DUI convictions. However, once convicted, you are court ordered to attend VASAP (Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program). Some people believe that VASAP is just a ten-week alcohol education course, but that is only one aspect of ASAP probation. Other measures may be ordered by the court, including supervision monitoring, ignition interlock monitoring, substance abuse treatment, and anything else the court deems necessary to your rehabilitation.

VASAP is a condition of almost every DUI conviction in Virginia. There have been a few exceptions but rarely for a first-time offender. The purpose of this program is to not only provide education but also treatment for any underlying issues in the hopes that this will discourage any future offenses.

If your BAC (blood alcohol concentration) is not elevated, you will most likely be put on the educational VASAP course track. This track is mostly just a series of classes without any excess monitoring or treatment programs. However, if you’re a repeat offender of your BAC is elevated as a first-time offender you will most likely have many more impositions in your life.

Another action you can take in Virginia to help yourself in the wake of a DUI conviction is to attend a voluntary driver improvement course. If you participate in a Virginia DMV-approved driver improvement program, then five points will be restored to your driving record. This helps to mitigate the six points that a DUI conviction puts on your license.

Obviously, your best course of action is to never get behind the wheel of a vehicle while intoxicated. DUI convictions are no laughing matter, and the state of Virginia will make sure you understand the seriousness of your crime. There’s no leniency for a first-time offender, they will impress upon you what the consequences will be for any future bad behavior and encourage you to avoid these situations in the future.

A Major Breakthrough in Preventing Virginia Underage DUI

Virginia underage DUIIf you are under 21 in Virginia, you know that you can’t buy alcohol. There are only certain circumstances, such as with your parents at home, in which it is legal for you to drink alcohol at all. Despite knowing the laws, underage drinking still happens. But Virginia underage DUI laws are strict, with major consequences. That party you are heading to… is it really worth the risk to your future? Are you willing to face all of the consequences for underage drinking and driving in Virginial?

Virginia underage drivers are responsible for 14 percent of traffic fatalities in the state. Alcohol plays a big role in those big numbers.

If you are caught driving with a .02 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or higher, you will lose your driver’s license for a year, pay a fine up to $1,000, face up to 10 days in jail, and will have to complete 50 hours of community service. If you are convicted of a Virginia underage DUI, in addition to the underage penalties, you will also be sentenced as an adult. Your age will not get you out of the mandatory ignition interlock requirement, and any other drivers or owners will be required to use the device, too.

Pro tip: rideshare services do not ask why you need a ride home, they just drive you there safely.

It is all fun and games until someone gets hurt, and that is the reason for the strict drunk driving and Virginia underage DUI laws. Fines and community service are nothing in comparison to the reality of what a drunk driver can do to a family. By staying sober behind the wheel, no matter how old you are, you’re ensuring the safety of everyone’s in your path. The consequences you face are too much to pay when you could just as easily find yourself a safe ride home when drinking, regardless of age.

Are You On the Road to Another Virginia Felony DUI?

virginia felony duiThere is a saying about people who make the same mistake time and time again, expecting a different result. With drinking and driving, continuing to put yourself and others on the line is not only a little crazy, but with each offense, you will face even stricter consequences. A Virginia felony DUI, for example, takes all your drunk driving offenses into account. It does not matter when they happened, or where, just that by the time you hit a third DUI, you are in Virginia felony DUI territory.

There is no lookback period, so a Virginia felony DUI is based upon all your convictions, even those that occurred decades apart.

When you have a felony DUI in Virginia, you will also face the following:

  • You will be labeled as a habitual drunk driving offender.
  • You will have a mandatory 90-day jail sentence.
  • You will have a felony record.
  • You will lose your driver’s license until you are eligible for an ignition interlock device.
  • You will give up your vehicle to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

To restore your license, you will be required to participate in VASAP and be eligible for an interlock through both the Commonwealth and the Virginia DMV. If you re-offend after that time or are in violation of VASAP or your interlock agreement, you will lose your license again, forever.

A Virginia felony DUI is a big deal, and with the strict stance the Commonwealth takes against all drunk driving offenses, your best move is to steer clear of any problems. Have a safe plan for getting home if you will be drinking, one that keeps you from having to make a choice while under the influence of alcohol. You will save yourself a lot of legal and personal troubles, and you will save the lives of others on the road.

Can You Expunge a First-Offense Virginia DUI Conviction?

expunging a Virginia DUIVirginia is tough on drunk driving. Not only is there an all-offender ignition interlock policy, but the state requires those devices to have a camera installed to ensure the person driving is the person submitting a breath sample. Beyond that, the state stands behind the other tough penalties for drinking and driving, including keeping a conviction on a criminal record for life. Also, unlike many other states, there is no expunging a Virginia DUI, no matter how much you may regret your mistake.

Last year, Virginia’s SB22 is was favored, but it stalled in the Commonwealth’s legislature.  The bill focused on expunging the following alcohol- or drug-related convictions and deferred disposition dismissals only if they occurred before the offender turned 21:

  • Marijuana possession
  • Underage alcohol possession.
  • Using a fake ID to purchase alcohol.

Still, the state wasn’t addressing expunging any DUIs, showing just how committed it is to creating safe roads and enforcing accountability. Instead, a first-offense DUI is eligible for VASAP, the Virginia Alcohol Safety Administration Program. Not only does VASAP monitor the ignition interlock requirement, but it provides services for alcohol addiction or dependence and education programs. That may not be a huge consolation for anyone looking to have a Virginia DUI expunged, but it does allow plenty of chances to ensure you will never drink and drive again.

There is one way to ensure you never have to deal with the struggle of a Virginia DUI on your record – don’t drink and drive. There are plenty of ways to get home safely that will eliminate the possibility of drunk driving. With such tough laws, a mandatory ignition interlock requirement and no hope of expunging a Virginia DUI, you may as well go ahead and make a safe ride home part of your plans before you head out to the party.

Recovery After a Virginia DUI: VASAP

Virginia VASAP DUI recoveryIf you are convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) in Virginia, the fines and expenses you are ordered to pay to assist programs like the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP), a probation program that gives you alternatives to drug and/or alcohol dependence. VASAP focuses on education and a proactive approach for Virginia DUI offenders in Virginia, rather than punitive measures that can increase dependence on substances.

Virginia DUI offenders can expect to pay $250-$300 for VASAP, including an evaluation for placement inside the classes and/or different programs available, depending on the circumstances surrounding the conviction. You will also be required to install and maintain an ignition interlock device (IID). Both VASAP and IIDs are mandatory in Virginia, ensuring you are on the right track to a life where another DUI isn’t even a remote possibility.

There are five specific objectives in the program that provide comprehensive, rehabilitative services to residents and other DUI offenders. VASAP helps law enforcement with equipment and training, it provides probation services to assist with DUI adjudication and deferrals. Case managers help offenders directly, while the program continues to give the public information needed to make smart choices about drinking and driving. Finally, the program has internal evaluations to ensure all aspects are working well together and making a difference on our Virginia roads.

Other VASAP programs include:

  • Alcohol or drug addiction treatment programs.
  • Young DUI offender programs.
  • Driver improvement and reckless driving education.
  • First-time drug offender programs.

Recovering after a DUI can be a difficult road, which is why more states are using similar programs to keep drunk drivers from making another mistake. The alternatives to these programs (such as incarceration) have not proven to stop the cycle of habitual drunk driving, giving even more value to the overall process found in programs like VASAP.

A-B-C… DUI? Drunk Teachers are Trending

The end of the school year is here, with teachers rejoicing at the freedom summer vacation will bring. What could be better than ten weeks of unlimited rest, relaxation and maybe kicking back with a few cold ones?

Unfortunately, a few bad apples are spoiling the fun for the rest of the class, as headlines about allegedly drunk teachers continue to create a stir for parents, school administrators and the children who witness these events.

Drunk teachers are teaching our kids, and the rest of us, the wrong lessons:

Teachers can face additional problems if they are convicted of DUI or other crimes, especially when the incidents occur in schools. Many schools have ethics or morality clauses in teachers’ contracts that will cause a teacher’s termination, after which it may be more difficult to find another teaching job.

We like to remind everyone of the choices they can make when drinking, like finding a safe ride home. However, these headlines show that sometimes there may be more at play than just bad judgment after a few hours at a bar or pub. Teaching isn’t an easy job, and while these examples are clearly not the norm, it may be time for all of us to keep in mind the dangers of drinking on the job. Teachers may not be operating heavy machinery or performing surgery, but drunk teachers definitely have their own role in our lives and in the lives of our children.

Drinking WHILE Driving in Virginia?

Drinking while driving in Virginia misdemeanorVirginia has one of the most comprehensive ignition interlock programs in the U.S. Not only is a DUI offender required to install the device for any offense, but they also have to complete the VASAP program. With such a tough take on DUI, it doesn’t make sense that drinking while driving in Virginia isn’t such a big deal.

That’s isn’t to say drinking while driving in Virginia is legal. It’s a crime with a misdemeanor penalty and $250 fine. Virginia also allows vehicle passengers to consume alcohol. However, if law enforcement sees backseat drinking, you’ll probably get pulled over and given an evaluation of your own sobriety level.

To be fair, it used to be common for adults to drink while driving. Just in the past few years, Montana made it a crime, and many refer to the practice as coming out of our country’s “Cowboy Days.” For instance, in 2010, one woman’s response to the newfangled Montana law was:

“I’m 43 years old and I’ve been drinking beer for 20 years now and having a beer on the way home is not going to make me a hazard on the road,” she said as she sipped a cold one.

Today, Mississippi still allows a driver to drink while driving, with the caveat that the driver cannot be driving dangerously or anywhere near the legal per se limit for DUI. Same with Arkansas, Connecticut and a handful of other states. It isn’t so much that the practice is legal, however, but that the states haven’t explicitly criminalized the act.

Perhaps Virginia doesn’t see the point in increasing penalties for drinking while driving, especially with the current DUI laws and ignition interlock requirement. However, ensuring the streets are safe from anyone who would drink and drive, or drink while driving, seems the best way to prove a commitment to completely sober roads.

Virginia DUI: Your Serving Size Matters

High proof alcohol sales and Virginia DUI consequencesA serving size of alcohol is usually a lot smaller than we expect, and often those servings contain a higher percentage of alcohol than we may expect, too. A higher percentage of alcohol leads to a higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which can quickly end up in a Virginia DUI conviction. For those reasons, a new problem is surfacing in Virginia: whether to allow the sale of Everclear, a high-proof (190 proof) liquor to the public.

190 proof liquor is the equivalent of 95% pure grain alcohol.

There is a lot of math that goes into safe drinking. From BAC (the percentage of alcohol that can be detected in your blood) to the measurement of alcohol in the drinks you’re drinking.  Adding it all up, math can make it easier to avoid drunk driving, until we factor in all of the variables, like the higher proof of alcohol. For instance, a standard serving of liquor is 1.5 ounces, containing about 40% alcohol. For the same punch, you can only drink .5 oz (three teaspoons) of Everclear.

That number is why lawmakers and others in the state are concerned with the sale of high-proof liquor. Three teaspoons of liquor is laughable, in particular on college campuses where Everclear is often used in “Jungle Juice” and other types of beverages. Plus, statistically speaking, the more alcohol that is consumed (whether serving size or the proof of the alcohol), the higher the rate of drunk driving, sexual assault, and property crimes. Virginia DUI laws are already strict, making many question the rationale behind selling such high proof liquor.

Obviously, the answer is to be aware of what you are drinking at all times, and take steps to keep yourself safe. A Virginia DUI could be a life-altering event, one that can be a direct result of high-proof liquor, or just a choice to drive home after a few too many beers at a bar. No matter what, the alcohol math can quickly add up to a Virginia DUI, ignition interlock requirement or worse, no matter the proof of your favorite beverage.

Did You Know: Virginia Ignition Interlock Devices

virginia ignition interlock VASAPVirginia is one of a majority of states that requires an ignition interlock device for any DUI. In fact, the Commonwealth is so committed to the devices that it will even take over your federal DUI supervision, allowing you the opportunity to install a Virginia ignition interlock instead of having to sit out a suspension from the government.

There’s more. Virginia ignition interlock law states:

  • Your first DUI requires you to enroll in the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP) program and install an interlock on any vehicle you drive.
  • Two or more DUIs means you need to install an interlock on any vehicles you drive or are registered in your name
  • Even if you qualify for an employment exemption, you still have to install an interlock on your vehicle.

VASAP, the agency that monitors your ignition interlock device, has an 18-point list of rules and regulations that you should be familiar with. Violations of those points could result in you going back to court or being removed from the program. You’ll then have to serve out the full time of your license suspension.

Also, in 2016, Virginia began to only allow ignition interlock devices with cameras, as an added layer of protection. The cameras snap a photo each time the driver blows into the device, ensuring the identity of the driver when a vehicle is started, and confirming that person continues to be the driver until the vehicle is turned off. That prevents circumvention of the process and keeps DUI drivers from repeating mistakes.

Virginia has an impressive range of services for DUI drivers, helping prevent any further incidents across the Commonwealth. That means the state is committed to ending drunk driving, once and for all, and is a stellar example of how a state can create, implement and continue to expand ignition interlock efforts to keep residents safe.

Why Does the Virginia DUI Lookback Period Matter?

Virginia DUI Looback washoutThe Virginia DUI washout or lookback period is important when you are facing more than one DUI conviction because it determines how a second (or subsequent) offense will be treated.  A first-offense Virginia DUI can no longer be counted against you in court after 10 years, but that doesn’t mean you should try for a new, first-offense DUI either.

The 10-year washout or lookback gap between DUIs can mean you’re facing a second offense or a second first-offense DUI.

A second DUI conviction will result in higher court costs and fines, as well as a longer ignition interlock requirement, while a third Virginia DUI increases all of that. Plus, you will likely have a felony conviction on your record, and a mandatory year in jail. That’s not all: a third DUI means your license will be revoked indefinitely, and you may never be able to legally drive again. In some cases, an offender can qualify for a restricted license.

Va. Code §46.2-391(C)(2). For a restricted license to authorize such person to drive a motor vehicle in the Commonwealth in the course of his employment and to drive a motor vehicle to and from his home to the place of his employment after the expiration of three years from the date of his last conviction. The court may order that a restricted license for such purposes be issued…

Va. Code §46.2-391(C)(1). For restoration of his privilege to drive a motor vehicle in the Commonwealth after the expiration of five years from the date of his last conviction. On such petition, and for good cause shown, the court may, in its discretion, restore to the person the privilege to drive a motor vehicle…

To reinstate a license after three years, the offender must install and maintain an ignition interlock for the duration of the original license suspension period. To restore privileges completely after a three-year revocation, the offender must install and maintain an ignition interlock device for at least six months. Had your third DUI occurred outside of the 10-year lookback period, you wouldn’t have so much on your plate.

Accurately counting the number of Virginia DUIs is vital for enforcing the appropriate penalties, which is where the lookback or washout period matters most. Virginia is tough on even first-time DUI offenders, so having a washout period is a way maintain that strict stance while still understanding that sometimes, history repeats itself, even decades later. At least today’s punishments are strict enough to still leave an impression on the offender.

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