College is an exciting experience. You can make new friends, experience independence and try out new things. Because of this, it is easy to get carried away and make mistakes, such as drinking and driving. Driving under the Influence (DUI) of a substance is illegal in Virginia. Those who commit this offense can suffer severe consequences if the court convicts them. If you have a criminal charge for DUI, you must know that not everything is lost. You can still defend yourself in court.
The penalties for driving under the influence
A driver is guilty of DUI if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is over 0.08%. The BAC limit is even lower for those under 21 years old: 0.02%. If an underage driver has more than 0.02% of BAC, the court can order them to pay a fine of $500 and complete at least 50 hours of community service upon conviction. If an underage has more than 0.08% of BAC, they would face the same penalties as adults.
The penalties for adults vary depending on the number of prior DUI convictions of the accused and the amount of alcohol they had in their blood while driving. The more offenses they have on their record, the harsher the penalties will be. For first-time DUI offenders, the penalties include:
- A minimum fine of $250
- License revocation for one year
- Minimum 10-day jail term
If you are an adult and the court convicts you of DUI for the first time, you won’t be able to drive unless you install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in your car. With an IID, you wouldn’t be able to start your car unless you provide a breath sample. If the IID detects alcohol on your breath, the vehicle won’t start.
College and other future consequences
In addition to facing the penalties set by the law, you may also face problems at college if the court convicts you. A DUI conviction could result in expulsion, suspension or lost scholarship funding. Also, you may not be able to continue your career if it requires you to get a professional license (like doctors, lawyers and nurses). If you are on a sports team, your coach could kick you out. On top of that, you may have to pay costly fines, and those expenses can add up to your student debt.
With a DUI conviction on your record, you would also struggle to get a good job in the future. Many employers run background checks before hiring someone, and they might not offer you a job if they see that you have a DUI conviction on your record. The same applies to housing opportunities.
Avoiding a conviction
A DUI conviction has harsh consequences. However, having a criminal charge does not necessarily mean the court will convict you. The court can still drop your charges if you give them the right arguments. For example, you may not face conviction if you can prove that the police did not have reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle or probable cause to arrest you. Your whole life is ahead of you, and you can avoid suffering life-long consequences by building a strong defense in court.