How do license suspensions and restricted operator’s licenses work in Virginia DUI cases?

If you’re convicted of a DUI in Virginia, your privilege to operate a motor vehicle will be suspended.  If eligible, however, you can (and should) seek a restricted driver’s license. This post seeks to help you understand how it all works.

What Virginia laws should I read?

To understand how restricted operators licenses work in Virginia, check out the following Virginia Code Sections:

For purposes of this post, we will consider someone facing a first DUI conviction. If you’re facing a subsequent DUI, you can expect your case to be more complex.  You need to discuss your circumstances with an attorney.

Also, this article assumes you have a Virginia license. If you have a non-Virginia license, your privilege to drive here in Virginia will be suspended. You will have to speak to an attorney in your home state to understand how that affects your license. You should assume, however, that your home state will learn about your Virginia DUI conviction and take action against your driver’s license.

How long will my license be suspended?

Under Virginia Code Section 18.2-271, when you’re convicted of a first DUI in Virginia, your license will be suspended for a period of one year.

If my license is suspended, can I not drive for an entire year?

Typically, if your license is suspended for a first DUI here in Virginia, you will be able to request the court to grant you a Restricted Operator’s License (ROL).  To maintain driving privileges, you will be required to enter and complete the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program, abide by their rules, and have an ignition interlock installed on your vehicle.

Where am I allowed to drive with my ROL?

Under Section 18.2-271.1, assuming you comply with law, your ROL will grant you limited driving opportunities, which include:

  • travel to and from his place of employment;
  • travel to and from an alcohol rehabilitation or safety action program;
  • travel during the hours of such person’s employment if the operation of a motor vehicle is a necessary incident of such employment;
  • travel to and from school if such person is a student, upon proper written verification to the court that such person is enrolled in a continuing program of education;
  • travel for health care services, including medically necessary transportation of an elderly parent or, as designated by the court, any person residing in the person’s household with a serious medical problem upon written verification of need by a licensed health professional;
  • travel necessary to transport a minor child under the care of such person to and from school, day care, and facilities housing medical service providers;
  • travel to and from court-ordered visitation with a child of such person;
  • travel to a screening, evaluation and education program entered pursuant to Virginia Code Section 18.2-251 or Virginia Code Section 258.1(H).
  • travel to and from court appearances in which he is a subpoenaed witness or a party and appointments with his probation officer and to and from any programs required by the court or as a condition of probation;
  • travel to and from a place of religious worship one day per week at a specified time and place;
  • travel to and from appointments approved by the Division of Child Support Enforcement of the Department of Social Services as a requirement of participation in an administrative or court-ordered intensive case monitoring program for child support for which the participant maintains written proof of the appointment, including written proof of the date and time of the appointment, on his person; (xii) travel to and from jail to serve a sentence when such person has been convicted and sentenced to confinement in jail and pursuant to Virginia Code Section 53.1-131.1 the time to be served is on weekends or nonconsecutive days;
  • travel to and from the facility that installed or monitors the ignition interlock in the person’s vehicle;
  • travel to and from a job interview for which he maintains on his person written proof from the prospective employer of the date, time, and location of the job interview; or
  • travel to and from the offices of the Virginia Employment Commission for the purpose of seeking employment. 

In addition to other requirements, to get this ROL, you have to have an ignition interlock on your vehicle for at least six months.  After six months, you can move the court to eliminate that requirement.

For your information, here is an application for ROL for you to download.

Is it possible for me to have a ROL that allows me to drive for any purpose.

As of July 1, 2020, Virginia Code Section 18.2-270.1 was amended to allow driving for any purpose on a ROL.  However, you have to qualify based upon the statute by the following:

  • if (i) a conviction was under § 18.2-266 or a substantially similar ordinance of any county, city, or town;
  • the conviction was for a first offense;
  • the offender was an adult at the time of the offense; and
  • the offender’s blood alcohol content was less than 0.15.

If you seek to drive for any purpose and you qualify, you will be required to have an ignition interlock on your vehicle for the entire year, instead of six months with restrictions.  

Still have questions?

Make sure to check out our Virginia DUI Practice Page where we’ve answered many other questions you likely have.  James Abrenio is a Fairfax-Based Personal Injury & Criminal Defense attorney who practices throughout Northern Virginia. You can learn more about James Abrenio, some of our Prior Results, and Read Our Reviews.  Make sure to contact us at Ph. 703-570-4180 for your Free Consultation.