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Drunk driving convictions can have serious penalties

Despite warnings from the media, law enforcement officials and other members of the community, many drivers in Portsmouth still drive while under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Those who drive under the influence can be convicted of DUI and face numerous consequences as a result.

In Virginia, drivers 21 years old or older can be arrested for a DUI if their blood alcohol concentration is above .08 percent. Commercial drivers are held to a stricter standard and may be arrested if their BAC level is above .04 percent. If the driver is under the legal drinking age of 21, he or she may face DUI charges for a BAC of only .02 percent.

The consequences of a DUI are serious and can have long-lasting effects. First-time offenders over the age of 21 will be fined a minimum of $250. Their licenses will be revoked for a period of one year. The court also may require the installation of an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. They may also be required to attend counseling or complete an Alcohol Safety Action Program. One of the more negative consequences of a DUI is that the offense will go on your criminal record which could affect job placement and other life goals in the future.

Those who have been convicted of multiple DUIs will likely face even more serious consequences, including indefinite license revocation and jail time. Second time offenders could face up to one year in jail. Third and fourth-time offenders will be charged with a felony charge, which can be an indefinite black mark on their records.

With all of these possible consequences, defending against a DUI is extremely important. With the proper defense, penalties may be less severe and charges could be dropped all together. This should give people facing these charges some hope moving forward.

Source: Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, "DUI Laws," accessed on Nov. 13, 2014

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