Driving under influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated/impaired (DWI) is an offence committed when a driver operates a vehicle after the consumption of alcohol or drugs or other intoxicants. Increased alcohol levels in the driver’s blood lead to diminished mental and motor reactions, which, in turn, reduce the driver's ability to control the vehicle. This significantly increases the risk of the driver committing errors of judgment and often results in accidents causing severe injuries and even death.
In West Virginia, as in the rest of the US, drunk driving is the single largest cause of motor vehicle related fatalities. Almost 35% of all fatalities in traffic accidents (431 deaths) in West Virginia in 2007 were the result of driver impairment by drugs or alcohol.
REGULATIONS FOR DUI/DWI IN WEST VIRGINIA
Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is a measure of the amount of alcohol present in your bloodstream. Even the smallest amount of alcohol in your blood can affect your reaction time and judgement. If you are over 21, if your BAC is over 0.08% then West Virginia law considers you to be intoxicated. If you are under 21, driving with a BAC of over 0.02% is an offense.
Having a West Virginia license automatically provides your consent to be tested if stopped by a law enforcement officer, while driving. This is the law of “implied consent” and can be used by the officer to test you if you are stopped on the suspicion of drunk driving, either through a breathalyzer test or by an actual blood test to check the BAC.
Quite simply, your license will be suspended or revoked, if you are convicted of DUI/DWI.
ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR DRIVERS OVER 21:
If you are caught with a BAC higher than the upper limit of 0.08%, you may be subjected to criminal actions in addition to administrative actions. If the DUI/DWI incident you are involved in is subjected to criminal action, it is recommended that you get in touch with a DUI/DWI lawyer as they are experts at handling such incidents and can offer you the best advice.
- A first offense:
If convicted for a first offense:
- Your license will be revoked for 6 months.
- You will face a jail term of between one day and 6 months
- You will be fined a minimum of $100 up to a maximum of $500
- A second offense within 10 years of the first offense:
- Your license will be revoked for 10 years.
- You will face a jail term of between 6 months and one year.
- You will be fined a minimum of $1,000 up to a maximum of $3,000
- A third or subsequent offense within 10 years of the previous offenses:
- Your license will be revoked for life.
- You will face a jail term of between one and three years
- You will be fined a minimum of $3,000 up to a maximum of $5,000
- If you commit a DUI that causes or contributes to the death of another person within one year of the date of the offense:
- You will be sent to jail for between 90 days and one year.
- You will be fined between $500 and $1,000 and your license will be revoked for 5 years.
- If it is proved that you drove with reckless disregard for others, the jail term increases to between one and 10 years, the fine is increased to between $1,000 and $3,000 and your license will be revoked for ten years.
- If you commit a DUI that causes bodily injury to another person:
- You will face a jail term of between 1 day and one year.
- You will be fined between $250 and $1,000 and your license will be revoked for 2 years.
- If you knowingly allow a drunk person to drive your vehicle:
- You will face a jail term of up to 6 months.
- You will be fined between $100 and $500 and your license will be revoked for 6 months.
- In addition to the above penalties, if you commit a DUI offence while a passenger under the age of 16 is in the vehicle:
- You will face a jail term of between 2 days to 6 months and will be fined between $100 and $500.
- The license revocation period in such cases is one year.
ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR DRIVERS UNDER 21
- If convicted for a first offense, your license will be revoked for 60 days and/or you will be fined a minimum of $25 up to a maximum of $100.
- If convicted of a second offense within 10 years of the first offense, your license will be revoked for 1 year, or until you reach the age of 21, whichever is the longer period, you will face a jail term of 24 hours and/or you will be fined a minimum of $100 up to a maximum of $500.
- A driver under the age of 18 who loses their driving privileges will not regain them until they reach the age of 18, or until the revocation period has expired, whichever is the longer.
- Apart from these actions, penalties mentioned above for drivers over 21, may also apply to minors if they are convicted of DUI/DWI.
ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR COMMERCIAL VEHICLE DRIVERS
If you drive a commercial vehicle and hold a commercial driver license (CDL):
- If you are convicted for your BAC being higher than 0.04%, you will be barred from driving for at least one year.
- You will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for at least three years, if you are convicted for your BAC being higher than 0.04% while transporting hazardous materials.
- You will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for life if you are convicted for any of these offenses for the second time. This may or may not be reduced to ten years.
- Apart from these actions, penalties mentioned above for drivers over 21, may also apply to commercial drivers for their first and second offenses of DUI/DWI. The other penalties do not apply since they are barred after the second offense.
ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI:
First time DUI offenders are eligible to participate in the West Virginia Test and Lock program. Depending on the individual circumstances, you may be eligible to apply for a license that allows you to drive a vehicle fitted with an ignition interlock device. For example, a first time DUI offender may participate in the program after 30 days, with a requirement to use the ignition interlock device for 5 months.
Second offenders are also required to participate in the program. The minimum license revocation period is one year and the interlock device must be used for a minimum of 2 years. For each additional offence within a 10 year period, the minimum period for the use of the ignition interlock device is increased by one year.
A repeat offender aged under 21 with a BAC between 0.02% and 0.08% is also required to participate, but in this case the minimum license revocation period is 2 months and the minimum period of use of the ignition interlock device is one year.
You may be eligible to request a hearing. It is a good idea to seek the advice of a DUI/DWI lawyer, based on the reason for the suspension, before scheduling the hearing.
LICENSE REINSTATEMENT AFTER DUI/DWI SUSPENSION/REVOCATION:
If you are convicted of DUI/DWI, it will result in your license being suspended or revoked. This means that your driving privileges will be taken away and you will need to apply for a reinstatement of your license with the DMV, once the period of suspension or revocation is over. Reinstating a license after a suspension of a year, or revocation will also mean taking the driving tests all over again. These will include the vision test, knowledge test and the road test. If you do not complete the reinstatement requirements, the license will remain suspended or revoked.
Persons completing their suspension period without committing further violations may apply for license restoration. The reinstatement fee of $5 may be mailed or delivered in person to:
Building 3, Room 124
Charleston, WV 25317
Division of Motor Vehicle regional offices do not process reinstatement transactions.
- DUI/DWI has been a major cause of death and injury in our nation and it is our duty to prevent such needless pain and suffering. Simply: If you drink, DON’T DRIVE! If we all follow this rule to the letter - thousands of lives will be saved each year.
- If you have been charged with a DUI/DWI get help from a DUI/DWI Lawyer.
- See also Suspended License, Point System and Traffic Ticket Lawyers.