What happens if I am stopped for drunk driving?

In Virginia, it is not just illegal to drive drunk, but it is also illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol (or other stimulant) such that it impairs your ability to drive. 

If you are stopped for a DUI, you will be questioned about your consumption of alcohol or drugs, asked to perform field coordination tests, and potentially asked to give a preliminary breath test at the location of the stop. You are not required to submit to this preliminary breath test and your refusal to submit to this test cannot be used as evidence against you. However, if you are arrested, you will be asked to give a breath test and/or blood sample to test for alcohol or drugs and that refusal will likely be admissible in court against you and may result in a “refusal charge.” By driving on a public street or highway in Virginia, it is assumed that you have given your consent for the taking of such a breath test and/or blood sample. 

It is unlawful for a person who is arrested for a DUI to unreasonably refuse to have samples of his breath/blood taken for chemical tests to determine the alcohol or drug content of his blood. 

An unreasonable refusal is a separate offense for which you may be charged. If you are arrested for DUI, an unreasonable refusal to take a breath test and/or blood sample is a civil offense for the first conviction. Thereafter, the offense will be criminal. A first conviction for an unreasonable refusal of a breath test results in a mandatory twelve-month suspension of your driver’s license, and the court has no authority to issue you a restricted license. A subsequent refusal to take a breath test within ten years of a prior offense is a criminal offense (Class 2 misdemeanor), which results in a three-year license suspension, up to six months in jail, and fine of up to $1,000. Refusal for a third offense within ten years is a Class 1 misdemeanor that results in a three-year license suspension, up to 12 months in jail, and up to a $2,500 fine. 

NOTE: The following illegal drugs also can be the basis for a DUI when specified levels are found in one’s blood: cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, phencyclidine (PCP), and methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA ecstasy). 

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