A DUI or DWI offense will stay on your permanent criminal record indefinitely in Virginia. The courts in Virginia will not expunge a misdemeanor charge or felony offense from your record. Even if you have driven responsibly for a decade or more after your initial driving under the influence charge, your criminal record will still show the details of the offense.
Repeat Offenses and Escalating Penalties
Although a DUI charge stays on your record forever in Virginia, there’s something to be said for repeat offenses. Virginia DUI law is nuanced and increases the penalties and fines for each subsequent DUI or DWI on your record within a certain time frame. For instance, a second driving under the influence charge within a five-year period of the first warrants mandatory jail time and an indefinite revocation of your Virginia driver’s license.
Third and fourth DUI charges within a ten-year period of the initial driving under the influence charge brings with it a felony charge in addition to jail time and a permanent blemish to your criminal record. Getting a felony means that your vehicle may be seized and forfeited to the state of Virginia. A felony also means that you lose your ability to vote.
Can DUIs or DWIs be Expunged?
Those accused of driving under the influence and driving while intoxicated might be curious about circumstances in which convictions can be expunged. If the courts come to a verdict of “actual innocence” and the judge determines that the accused wasn’t guilty, then the DUI charge could be permanently stricken from court records. In other words, if the judge determines that you’re not guilty or if the charges are dismissed, then your criminal record should remain clean.
Virginia, though, treats driving under the influence and driving while intoxicated very seriously. A felony DWI, for instance, brought about by having two or more previous DWI charges in a five-year period, cannot be expunged from your criminal record even if that charge was brought down from a felony to a misdemeanor DWI. Your criminal record in this case would display a felony arrest that was later downgraded to a misdemeanor conviction. Driving while drunk or intoxicated simply isn’t worth it in light of the possible jail time, fines and potential felony charges.
Serious Consequences of DUI and DWI
Even for a first offense, if the presiding officer finds a blood-alcohol content (BAC) over 0.15 percent, then the penalty is five days mandatory jail time. This goes to show that Virginia is extremely tough on even first offenders when it comes to DUIs and DWIs. Because Virginia is such a tough state when it comes to these offenses, a DUI lawyer who’s equally tough is a necessity.
Experienced DUI Legal Counsel
Finding a Virginia DUI lawyer that also has specialized experience with traffic offenses is critical to combating your DUI or DWI charge. You need an attorney who knows how to cast doubt on chemical tests, field sobriety tests and BAC data. It’s important not to let a DUI or DWI charge wreck your life.
In summary, a Virginia DUI or DWI charge will stay on your permanent criminal record. For very high BACs or repeat offenses, you could face mandatory jail time or a felony charge. A felony resulting from a DUI or DWI means that your car could be seized and forfeited, and a felony also means that you lose your ability to vote in Virginia. A trained DUI lawyer is an essential step to take in combating these charges.