DUI & DWI in West Virginia

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Driving under the influence of alcohol or any other drug is a serious offense in West Virginia and is treated as such. Why shouldn't it be? When someone drives under the influence, he's not only putting his own life at risk, but he's also endangering the lives of everyone around him―not to mention the lives of the survivors that will be affected when they lose a loved one to a drunk driver.

Even if a drunk driving accident isn't fatal, there may still be personal injuries that the victim and his or her family members will have to overcome. If you or a loved one is involved in a alcohol-related accident, you should contact an attorney specializing in personal injury.

Facts about Alcohol and DUI

Alcohol affects a person's judgment, impairs vision, and reduces alertness.

Just as it affects different people in different ways, it can also affect the same person in different ways at different times. For example, a person's emotional, mental, and physical states, as well as whether or not they've been using medicine, can help determine how alcohol will affect that person.

Aside from paying fines and spending time in jail, being charged with and convicted of a DUI carries the penalty of losing your driving privileges , paying for a mandatory safety and treatment program

Implied Consent Law and Chemical Test

The Implied Consent Law helps further protect drivers from the hazards of DUI. You're considered to have already given consent to taking a chemical breath test (which determines the amount of alcohol in your body) if you're a licensed driver in West Virginia. If you refuse to take the test, your driving privileges could be suspended or revoked from a period of 45 days (with the states Alcohol Test and Lock Program) up to 1 year without the program for a 1st offense.

If you find yourself being pulled over and tested for DUI, the best thing for you to do is contact a DUI attorney immediately.

Zero Tolerance Law

West Virginia enforces the Zero Tolerance Law. This means that if you are younger than 21 years old and drive while under the influence of 0.02% to under 0.08% alcohol, you face a fine and your license will be revoked.

Zero Tolerance 1st Offense
Administrative Penalty

  • Driver's license suspended
    • Without Interlock: 60 days.
    • With Interlock: 30 days suspended plus 6 months with an interlock device.
    • Driver's license reinstatement fee.

Criminal Penalty

  • Fine: $25 up to $100

These are only the basic fines and penalties. If you have a BAC over the 0.02% to under 0.08% range, or if you are involved in an accident then the fines and penalties for both Administrative and criminal will increase dramatically. If you are under 18 years old at the time you violate the Zero Tolerance law you will be prevented from having a driver's license until you turn 18 years old.

You will be required to successfully complete a safety and treatment program.

Penalties for DUI

Below is a brief outline of DUI offenses and penalties for alcohol and other drugs by persons 21 years old and over

BAC 0.08% to under 0.15% 1st Offense
Administrative Penalty

  • Driver's license suspended
    • Without Interlock: 90 days.
    • With Interlock: 15 days suspended plus 4 months with an interlock device.
    • Driver's license reinstatement fee.
Criminal Penalty
  • Jail time: Up to 6 months
  • Fine: $100 to $500.

BAC Aggravated 0.15% and over 1st Offense
Administrative Penalty
  • Driver's license suspended
    • With Interlock: 45 days suspended plus 9 months with an interlock device.
    • Driver's license reinstatement fee.
Criminal Penalty
  • Jail time: Mandatory 2 days Up to 6 months.
  • Fine: $200 to $1000.

Note that in West Virginia, you must successfully complete a safety and treatment program at your own expense before you can have your driving privileges reinstated. If you wish to challenge the suspension or revocation of your license, you or your attorney will need to request a hearing.

Violations that cause an accident, endanger a child or are 2nd or subsequent offenses will increase both criminal and Administrative penalties. Not to mention the time you may be required to have an interlock device on your vehicle.

Administrative Hearings

Regardless of what criminal charges you face, you will be penalized by the Division of Motor Vehicles for driving under the influence. If your license is suspended by the DMV you can request a hearing. Hearing are handled by the Office of Administrative Hearings. It is best to read over their fact sheet before you fill out a Written Objection and Hearing Request Form ( REV 2013). Whether you are successful at your hearing or not; you still may be required to pay a driver's license reinstatementfee.

Tips to Avoid DUI Consequences

The most obvious tip to avoid the consequences of driving under the influence is simple: Don't do it. Here are a few suggestions to help you.
  • If you plan to drink while you're out, have a designated driver accompany you.
  • Keep the number for several taxi services with you at all times―just in case.
  • Tend to get a little rowdy when you drink? Or stubborn? Maybe you turn into Superman. In any case, the best way to avoid driving yourself home after you've convinced yourself that you're invincible is to leave your car keys at home.
  • You can also find more information about blood alcohol content in the Driver Licensing Handbook.
  • Teens: If you drink while you're out―whether you're at a party, a club, a game, or a friend's house―do not drive yourself home. You are already breaking the law. Find a sober friend, or call your parents. Yes, they may ground you for life, but at least you won't risk killing your best friend, first love, or yourself.

More Information on DUI

For more information, check out the West Virginia State Profile.

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