If you have been arrested for DUI in Virginia, chances are you will be charged with a misdemeanor, not a felony. Even though both are considered criminal charges, a misdemeanor carries a lesser punishment.
A DUI conviction that is classified as a misdemeanor in Virginia may still carry a short jail sentence and fine, but the punishment is far less severe than a felony offense. If your DUI conviction is tried as a felony, you could be facing a state prison term of more than a year, in addition to a fine, license revocation and other consequences.
Every state is different in regards to how DUI convictions are classified. In Virginia, a DUI offense is a misdemeanor unless it is the third offense within ten years. A third DUI offense will be prosecuted as a Class 6 felony. A fourth DUI offense will require mandatory time in jail of one year.
The Commonwealth of Virginia is particularly tough on convicted drunk drivers. The section of the Virginia Code that addresses DUI is over 40 pages in length. Even a first time DUI offense in Virginia can result in jail time, a fine of up to $2,500, a license revocation of one year and mandatory attendance of a DUI educational program provided by the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP). If you are given a sentence enhancement, you could be facing an even worse punishment.
The article, When is DUI a Felony Offense, has more information regarding when DUI is charged as a felony versus a misdemeanor.
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