All the Ways to a West Virginia DUI

West Virginia DUIThis country has a severe problem with DUI offenders. Every day people are leaving bars, restaurants, or even their own homes and getting behind the wheel while intoxicated. This country has made prosecuting those who make this choice a priority and making the penalties associated with conviction as inconvenient as possible.

West Virginia DUI charges are no exception. You can be charged with a DUI in West Virginia if your BAC (blood alcohol concentration) is .08% or higher. As with most states, you can also be charged if your BAC is lower if you’re exhibiting other signs of driving under the influence, such as erratic driving or excessive speed, or you fail a roadside sobriety test. There are also harsher penalties if you are caught with a BAC over .15% such as ignition interlock device requirements.

Under 21? Don’t drink and drive, especially since it’s illegal for you to drink at all. If you are caught with a BAC of just .02% or higher you will be charged with a West Virginia DUI. A DUI conviction has long-reaching consequences for things such as your education and career choices. If you’re a CDL driver you also need to be careful. If you’re caught driving with your CDL with a BAC of .04% or higher, you will be charged, and if convicted, you will not only lose your CDL but most likely your career and income.

Your best choice is to never drink and drive, regardless of if you have 1 drink or 5. However, everyone makes mistakes. If you make the mistake of drinking and driving and get caught, you need to contact an attorney who is experienced in the field of DUI defense. An attorney will help you navigate the legal system and provide you with the best defense possible to help mitigate the impact of your West Virginia DUI charge on your life.

Just Go Home: West Virginia Hardcore DUI Drivers

West Virginia hardcore DUI

“Go big or go home” should never be part of any drunk driving incident, but between binge drinking and people not understanding blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits, hardcore DUI is a reality in our world. West Virginia hardcore DUI offenders are expected to have a much tougher time moving past their drunk driving conviction, and considering the statistical danger of high, hardcore DUI drivers, there are plenty of reasons to be concerned.

A West Virginia hardcore DUI driver is defined as:

  • Having a high BAC at the time of arrest, and/or;
  • Having multiple DUI offenses within the 10-year lookback period.

Those don’t necessarily apply to all offenders, but they are considered red flags for the West Virginia hardcore DUI designation. The final piece of the puzzle is how resistant to rehabilitation the offenders are. If a person with multiple DUIs is willing to accept treatment for a possible alcohol dependence, they may not end up with the hardcore DUI designation.

For those who are designated as hardcore DUI drivers, the regular legal consequences will apply. On top of those, offenders will be assessed for alcohol treatment and be placed in a program as indicated by the test. There will be more strict ignition interlock requirements, possible incarceration for any violations of the program and home monitoring of alcohol use could be a measurement, too.

If your plans include binge drinking or any type of drinking at all, you may want to add a safe ride home into that plan. West Virginia hardcore DUI drivers are given an even more comprehensive road to recovery than any other drunk drivers. Considering that even a “simple” DUI in the state results in court costs, fines, an ignition interlock requirement and more, the investment you’ll be forced to make after a DUI is a lot more hardcore than you may realize. Go big or go home, but be safe about it, and stay out of drunk driving danger.

Will West Virginia DUI Law Change?

West Virginia DUI law changesWest Virginia lawmakers are looking at closing the Office of Administrative Hearings for West Virginia DUI offenders. A new piece of legislation, Senate Bill 212, is being met with opposition as it would eliminate the Office of Administrative Hearings and have license revocations be handled through the court system.  The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) is NOT part of the Division of Motor Vehicles DMV. While both agencies exist under the Department of Transportation umbrella, both agencies are separate and distinct from one another.

As the law stands now, alleged drunk drivers must follow directions through two different groups within West Virginia. The criminal charges against the driver are handled through magistrate court. The proposal suggests that license revocations be handled through the court system. License suspension is critical because it serves a swift consequence for people who make the choice to drive drunk. West Virginia’s current administrative license suspension law is a model for the nation. It allows for, but not does mandate, offenders to immediately go on an ignition interlock device instead of an unenforceable time or route-restricted license.

In the past decade ignition interlock devices have stopped 24,331 attempts to drive drunk with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or greater.

If SB 212 were to become law, there would be fewer license suspensions and fewer offenders using an ignition interlock device, which would lead to more drunk drivers on West Virginia roadways. As a result, this bill is detrimental to public safety.

Supporters of the bill say eliminating the office would save the state $3 million yearly.  Those opposed say the court system is already overwhelmed, especially because of the drug epidemic, and not equipped to handle the licensing element of DUI cases. Opponents say that when a driver is charged with DUI, regardless of what happens with charges in the criminal justice system, the driver can still be reprimanded by losing his/her license if the OAH feels there is enough evidence to revoke a license after a hearing process. If the office is closed, that will mean a layer of protection lost for the driving public.

Since 2008, drunk driving offenders who seek driving privileges during the revocation period must use an ignition interlock through the state’s Test and Lock Program, which is regulated by the DMV.

  • First-time offenders with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 to .14 must use an interlock for a period of four months.
  • Offenders with a BAC of .15 or greater must use the device for nine months.

The revocation period, and granting driving privileges only with an ignition interlock, is critical to protecting the public and the driver from the potential for repeat offenses. In fact, West Virginia has reduced drunk driving fatalities by 50 percent since enacting its ignition interlock law in 2008. Altering the license revocation law in any way would turn back the clock and put more lives at risk in West Virginia. Contact your local legislative office to urge your representative to reject SB 212 or any proposal that would weaken West Virginia’s drunk driving law.

You Can Still Get a West Virginia DUI on Your Own Land

West Virginia DUI on private propertyLast year, the West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that any type of drunk driving incident in the state was a criminal offense. So, Uncle Joe’s six-pack tractor ride could cause a lot of legal repercussions that were normally saved for his highway trips, like a West Virginia DUI, court costs, and an ignition interlock requirement. The ruling was recently upheld, attempting to keep plenty of ATV-riding, land-owning, day-drinking people from damaging their own property or worse.

How can a state levy criminal DUI charges against a person who drives under the influence on their own property?

A WV Chief Justice explained the decision as such:

“The legislature chose to structure our DUI statutes to regulate the condition of the driver, not the locale in which the driving is taking place. Thus, the legislature expressed its plain intent to prohibit an intoxicated person from driving a vehicle anywhere in West Virginia, whether on public roads or across private land.”

There was dissent, but the West Virginia Supreme Court untimely upheld the decision to include private property in the definition of a “person who drives a vehicle in the state.”

Now that the issue has been settled, the next question is whether an ignition interlock device can be a penalty for a West Virginia DUI, even on private land. The answer is yes, and if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is at or above the legal limit or you’ve already had one or more West Virginia DUI, you’ll have an interlock requirement in WV.

If you have an interlock requirement in West Virginia, the device must go on your street-legal vehicle, not your ATV, even if that’s what you were driving when you were charged with the DUI.

Obviously, the smart choice is never to drive drunk, and that goes for you, Uncle Joe or anyone else who may think its ok to get behind the wheel after drinking. It doesn’t matter what you’re driving or where you’re going, just how much you’ve had to drink and your risk to others in your path.

Driving on a West Virginia Suspended License?

West Virginia suspended license violationsWest Virginia may not require you to install an ignition interlock device (IID) after your DUI, but you will face a license suspension through the DMV if it’s not suspended by the court itself. An IID is only required by law after an aggravated DUI (BAC of .15 percent or above) or after two more offenses within a ten-year period. Without the device, West Virginia suspended license periods last longer and can have harsher consequences for driving illegally. 

A West Virginia suspended license is a stepping stone to resuming your normal driving life.

When you keep driving on a West Virginia suspended license, you’re risking even more penalties. If your license was revoked for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or refusing to take a test to determine whether you are intoxicated, your sentence may involve:

  • First offense: A fine between $100 and $500 and between 30 days and six months in jail.
  • Second offense: A fine between $1,000 and $3,000 and between six months and one year in jail.
  • Third (or subsequent) offense: A fine between $3,000 and $5,000 and between one year and three years in prison, along with the possibility that the crime be considered a felony.
  • With a BAC between .02 and .08: Your sentence may involve a fine between $50 and $500 and 24 hours in jail.
  • Your license may also be suspended or revoked for an additional period of time, depending on the circumstances.

Although it may seem harmless to ignore your DUI sentencing or probation, getting your license and freedom back after a conviction should be a top priority. That means serving the full time for your suspended license and/or installing an IID as mandated by the court or DMV. Considering the alternative, your best bet to getting your life back is to avoid any more legal issues involving your driving record.

A West Virginia DUI Isn’t Always About Alcohol

West Virginia DUI-DDrugged driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving. West Virginia charges drugged drivers under the DUI-D (driving under the influence of drugs) law, not the DUI (alcohol) law. So, if you are DUI-D driving, you won’t need to have an ignition interlock device (IID) or be enrolled in the WV Alcohol Test and Lock Program (ALTP) as you would with a West Virginia DUI, but you’ll still be fined and you’ll probably have a suspended driver’s license without the benefit of an interlock.

However, if you are found guilty of a DUI with both alcohol and any type of drug or medication in your system, you will face the same consequences as a West Virginia DUI. You’ll have an ignition interlock requirement on top of:

  • Up to 6 months in jail.
  • A fine of $100-$500.
  • ALTP enrollment.

That’s because prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs can interfere with your driving all by themselves. When you add in alcohol, those effects are multiplied, and often with tragic results.

For an individual to be charged with a West Virginia DUI, their BAC (blood alcohol content) will test as 0.08 percent. The required minimum period of use of an ignition interlock device is 125 days. That’s six months’ worth of frustration you can avoid by making the choice to find a safe ride home.  If you’re not sure how your medication or that cough syrup may affect your driving, then exercise your best judgment and see if you can stay home until you feel better or know if you can safely drive yourself.

Almost every state in the U.S. is reporting an increase in DUI-D incidents or those that are a combination of alcohol and drugs. Any substance that causes fatigue or impairs judgment is dangerous behind the wheel. This can be exasperated with the addition of an alcoholic buzz. Drive safely, and be smart when you need to take a medication before driving!

New WV Interlock Program Enhances State Law

ignition interlockWest Virginia recently enacted a new law that focuses on the statewide drunk driving problem. The new WV interlock program changes current options for a person who has been charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in the state, allowing him or her to install an ignition interlock device on his or her car and possibly forego a costly court case.

This WV interlock program, known as the “Alcohol Test and Lock Program” went into effect on June 6, 2014, and will accept applications from those willing to waive a court trial. In exchange, the offenders must then install and use an ignition interlock device (IID) on any vehicles driven. According to lawmakers in the state, there could be additional stipulations, such as attending classes for alcohol awareness and drunk driving prevention.

Law enforcement in West Virginia is confident that through this WV interlock program, more people will be able to avoid suspension of driving privileges. Despite tough drunk driving laws in West Virginia, and across the country, it is too common for a person with a suspended license to continue to drive. If that person is a convicted drunk driving offender, the possibility of continuing to drive while intoxicated, even on a suspended license, is fairly high. This WV interlock program hopes to reduce the danger of drunk drivers through the use of an IID.

An IID is a solution for anyone who has made the choice to drive drunk, but must still have transportation for work, school, medical or other personal obligations. The new WV interlock program does not excuse the crime of driving drunk, instead, it provides a better level of security for anyone on the road through the constant monitoring of sobriety before a vehicle starts, and while it is in motion.