Coates & Davenport, P.C.

What are the 'perils of reciprocity' of a Virginia DUI?

Many people, both Virginians and non-Virginians alike may have travelled across Interstate-95 during their travels this past holiday season. And, unfortunately, some of these individuals may have been arrested and charged with drunk driving. It is important to have a basic understanding of when a person could be charged with DUI and what penalties one might face, especially with regards to residents of other states who are travelling in Virginia.

In Virginia, if one's blood alcohol concentration is above the legal limit (0.08 percent), they can be charged with DUI per se. However, even if a person's BAC is below 0.08 percent, they could still be charged with DUI if the arresting officer believes they have shown other signs of intoxication such as bloodshot eyes, slurred speech or trouble keeping balance. Keep in mind that if a person's BAC is 0.05 or less, they do have a rebuttable presumption that they are not under the influence. In addition, a person can be charged with DUI simply for operating the vehicle, even if the vehicle is not in motion at the time.

The penalties even for a first-time DUI can be significant. A first-time DUI can result in as many as 12 months in jail, a fine of $2,500 and having one's driver's license suspended for 12 months. People from other states who receive a DUI in Virginia must also beware of the "perils of reciprocity." This means that, if convicted of DUI in Virginia, they will be subjected to the penalties imposed by the commonwealth of Virginia as well as any automatic administrative penalties in their state of residence.

As this shows, not all DUIs look the same. Moreover, the consequences for receiving a DUI can significantly impact one's life, especially if one is not a resident of Virginia. Therefore, residents and non-residents of Virginia alike who are charged with DUI may want to make sure they develop a solid defense strategy. Seeking legal counsel can help in this endeavor.

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