If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI (driving under the influence) in Virginia, you will be facing serious consequences, as our state’s laws are some of the toughest to fight in court. Even your first DUI is a criminal misdemeanor, and carries the potential for jail time, up to $2,500 in fines, restrictions on your license, being placed on probation, and ignition interlock. Even worse, a conviction results in a criminal record that may forever affect your education, job, housing possibilities, and your family and social relationships.
With penalties so severe, this is not something you should attempt to fight on your own. You need a skilled DUI lawyer.
DUI defense attorney Cody Villalon has 12 years of experience successfully fighting for the rights of people like you. He knows the courts, the prosecutors, and the system, and that there are aspects of DUI charges which, when handled correctly may result in a lesser offense or penalty and in some circumstances even a dismissal.
Cody is a hard-working solo practitioner who genuinely cares about clients’ well-being. He takes a personal interest in every case and never hands the case off to another attorney. He believes that everyone is guaranteed rights under the law and deserves to be treated with basic human dignity. He will be there for you throughout the entire legal process, addressing your questions and concerns, and aggressively fighting to get results.
Being arrested and charged with a DUI doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be found guilty. With the help of an experienced lawyer who knows Virginia criminal and constitutional law, you may have a basis for a DUI defense that can allow you to obtain a favorable plea bargain agreement or result in charges being dropped completely.
When you have the Cody Villalon legal team on your side, we will:
Cody Villalon knows that you have many rights under the law, including the right to remain silent and not answer questions by police unless an attorney is present. You have the right to confront witnesses against you and to have a public, speedy jury trial and be represented by a DUI attorney. We will aggressively advocate for you and fight for all your rights.
According to Virginia Code § 18.2-266 DUI / DWI (driving while impaired) and DUID (driving while under the influence of marijuana, drugs or intoxicants), are misdemeanor and felony crimes, depending on the circumstances. You are considered to be DWI if you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) at or above the legal limit of 0.08 by breath test or blood test. If charged with DUI with a BAC of 0.15 or above, there is a mandatory jail sentence of five days, even for a first offense or more if it is a second offense. It is unlawful for you to refuse to have breath samples taken for chemical tests to determine the alcohol content of the blood and doing so may lead to suspension of your license for one year, even for a first offense.
However, there have been several changes to Virginia DUI laws in 2020 and 2021. If it is your first DUI, your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is less than .15, instead of having your license suspended, you can receive a restricted license that allows you drive for “any purpose” if you agree to have an ignition interlock device installed and maintained on your vehicle for a 12-month restricted period.
In addition, after July 1, 2021, anyone who is ineligible to get a restricted license, including repeat offenders, may be allowed a restricted license if they agree to use an alcohol monitoring device, to abstain from alcohol, and to participate in an alcohol safety program known as VASAP (Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program). This requires probationary oversight of persons convicted of DUI.
Also, according to Virginia’s implied consent law (Virginia code § 18.2-268.3), if you refuse a blood or breath test after you have been arrested for a DUI charge and are convicted because you unreasonably refused the test, you may petition the court for a restricted license. Under the old law no such provision existed. If you agree to use an ignition interlock device and complete an alcohol safety program, you may be able to drive for essential reasons.
While these loosened restrictions are good news for drivers facing DUIs, be aware there are serious penalties for VASAP violations, including potential jail time, fines, and revocation of driving privileges, plus the original suspension period.
First offense – According to Virginia law (VA code § 18.2-270), there is no mandatory jail sentence for a first DUI if the BAC is low. However, a Class 1 misdemeanor still carries a maximum possible punishment of 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. In addition, the court must impose a $250 fine (plus court costs), a 12-month license suspension (with restricted privileges possible), and a requirement to complete the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program. However, there is a mandatory minimum punishment for a first offense, high breath score (at least 0.15, but not more than 0.20) DUI conviction. There may be a sentence of jail for an additional mandatory minimum period of five days or, if the level was more than 0.20, for an additional mandatory minimum period of 10 days. It is possible, and extremely likely, to receive a probationary period with a suspended jail sentence added to the active jail time. Additional mandatory time will be added if a child was in the vehicle.
Second offense – A second offense committed within less than five years after a prior offense is punished by a mandatory minimum fine of $500 and by jail for one month to one year. Twenty days is the mandatory minimum sentence.
A second offense within a period of five to 10 years of a prior offense is punished by a mandatory minimum fine of $500 and by confinement in jail for not less than one month. Ten days is the mandatory minimum sentence.
Additional mandatory jail sentences of days can be imposed in addition to those listed above for high BAC results or if a child was in the vehicle.
Third offense – A third offense committed within a 10-year period is a Class 6 felony. The sentence includes a mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days, unless the three offenses were committed within a five-year period, in which case the sentence is a mandatory minimum sentence of six months plus a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000.
Cody Villalon knows how devastating it is to be facing such severe penalties and will be there to negotiate with prosecutors for the best deal possible or find a way to have your charges dismissed.
When faced with DUI/DWI charges, it’s a frightening experience, and you are bound to wonder just what you are up against. Here are some answers to questions Cody Villalon is often asked.
A DUI is a misdemeanor unless there is an accident where someone is seriously injured or killed or unless the driver was previously convicted of two DUIs in the prior ten years.
In addition, a DUI is punished more severely depending on aggravating circumstances that could include:
If your DUI involves aggravating factors, punishments increase as follow:
The maximum punishment is up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of $2,500, plus court costs. Aggravating factors make it more likely that the judge will impose a harsher punishment.
If there is an accident and someone dies, the DUI is charged as a felony and not a misdemeanor. There is no mandatory minimum punishment, but the maximum punishment is 10 years in prison. If you are found to have acted in a gross, wanton, and culpable manner as to show a reckless disregard for human life, the maximum punishment is 20 years in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of one year in prison.
The more times you are convicted of a DUI and the higher your BAC, the worse the punishment usually is.
Yes, and while mitigating circumstances may not always help you avoid the minimum penalties, you may be able to get probation instead of jail time or be allowed to plead down to reckless driving or another lesser penalty.
Mitigating factors in a DUI may include:
VASAP is normally a minimum of 10 weeks of classes with two hours per class. Depending upon your record and substance abuse history, you may also have to attend therapy and AA meetings.
A conviction for a first offense will stay on your criminal record forever. However, it will only stay on your driving record for eleven years, which may help if someone investigates your driving record after that period.
DUI and DWI in Virginia are basically interchangeable terms for the offense of operating an engine under the influence of something. Virginia law prohibits operating any kind of motor vehicle if you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol or any other substance that alters your abilities to drive or operate the vehicle safely. While alcohol is most common, you could be arrested for a DUI due to drugs such as marijuana or heroin, or it could be due to a prescription medicine prescribed by your doctor.
This depends on the type of test the officer asked you to take.
Preliminary Breath Test – If you are asked to take a preliminary breath test (PBT) on the side of the road, you will blow into a machine that measures the amount of alcohol in your breath. You should refuse this test, as the result can be used to build a case against you, but your refusal cannot be used against you in court.
Breathalyzer or Blood Tests – When you are arrested for a DUI, you are not allowed to “unreasonably refuse” to take a chemical test if the police had probable cause to arrest you for DUI and they offered the test within three hours of the arrest and gave you your rights regarding chemical tests. Prosecutors can use your refusal against you at trial.
Sometimes officers or prosecutors don’t do things correctly as required by law, and this can be used to help your case. Strategies we may use to defend you include:
There was lack of reasonable suspicion or probable cause. Police officers are required to have reasonable suspicion to pull you over and demonstrate evidence of probable cause for arrest. If they do not, your resulting DUI arrest would be deemed invalid, and charges against you would be dismissed.
Police had no justification to pull you over in the first place or didn’t read you your rights. You must be read your Miranda rights or “warnings” if you are being interrogated while in police custody, otherwise, any responses you provide that incriminated you are not admissible in court.
A field sobriety test can be challenged. Virginia has guidelines on how field sobriety tests must be administered, or the results of the DUI field sobriety test will be invalidated.
A horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test can be challenged. The HGN test is designed to examine the involuntary jerking of the driver’s eyes which often occurs when intoxicated. Other factors can cause nystagmus, and we can argue these tests are inadmissible.
A breath test can be challenged. Both the PBT test performed in the field and the breathalyzer test given at the police station can be challenged if devices did not comply with requirements or the tests were not administered properly.
A blood test can be challenged. If your blood test was administered improperly, it may be inadmissible as evidence.
Cody Villalon believes that we are guaranteed rights under the law, but they exist only as long as there are people that are willing to defend them. As an experienced DUI Richmond defense lawyer, he is proud of the work he does and will aggressively fight for your rights and the type of world he wants his own children to live in.