Can You Get A Year in Jail for Your First DUI in Virginia?!

One question that we, at Abrenio Law, get often for DUIs is – James, can I really get a year in jail for my first Virginia DUI? Here’s my answer:

While the maximum jail sentence for a first DUI is one (1) year, the actual jail sentence received depends on the particular facts of each case. Obviously, maximum means worst-case scenario. While no one can predict what jail sentence you will receive if convicted, certain variables will need to be reviewed to give you a better idea. The court will consider things like your:

  • Criminal and traffic record
  • Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) at the time of driving
  • Driving behavior leading to the arrest
  • Property damage or personal injury (if any) caused

As one might expect, the court will probably look more favorably on a person with a good driving record that caused no personal/property injury due to driving intoxicated than someone who has been caught before and caused damage.

Now you may be thinking, “that does not answer my question, James…how much time will I get?” The truth is that no one knows. Anyone who guarantees you a specific result is simply insincere. Judges have wide discretion in sentencing DWI defendants. We as attorneys can estimate based upon the facts present and fight for the best result. Guarantees aren’t worth much in this arena.

To provide a baseline, however, there is something lightly termed the “standard first” DWI. While you won’t find this in a law book, local Virginia practitioners use this term to mean a person charged with a low BAC, no prior DWI’s, no aggravating factors like an accident, no lengthy criminal/traffic record, an no particularly inappropriate behavior displayed to law enforcement. Such cases usually do not result in active jail time, but there are exceptions. Generally, a “standard first” DWI conviction results in period of one (1) year probation, either no active or a minimal active jail sentence, and a suspended jail sentence conditioned upon compliance with probation. Keep in mind, the likelihood of a standard first can also depend on the court that a case is in and the prosecutor handling the case.