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Fairfax Criminal Defense Blog


Posted by John A. Kassabian | Mar 08, 2022

When someone is convicted of drunk driving, the amount of alcohol present in their bloodstream can affect the severity of the punishment in Virginia. Someone with a very high Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) will receive a harsher penalty than someone with a lesser BAC.

A criminal defense lawyer can help people who have been accused of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) understand the complicated laws associated with the charge. Kassabian and Kassabian, PLC, in Fairfax, VA, has helped hundreds of individuals work through the complex process of answering to DUI charges.


If your BAC is measured to be at or above 0.08 percent in Virginia, you will be charged with DUI. However, it's not that simple. It is, for example, possible for someone to be charged with DUI if they have been pulled over for reckless or erratic driving, and their BAC is less than 0.08 percent.

Beyond that, in Virginia, DUI BAC levels matter. 

Virginia DUI laws consider whether the impaired driver has a very high BAC at the time they are operating a motor vehicle.  If the driver's BAC level is at 0.15 percent (but less than 0.20 percent)—nearly twice the limit for a DUI charge—a first offender will face a mandatory jail term of five days in addition to other penalties and fines. If it's the driver's second offense within 10 years, that mandatory jail term jumps up to 10 days.

And, if the driver's BAC is 0.20 percent or higher, the mandatory jail term in addition to other penalties and fines is 10 days for a first offense. Should the driver commit a second offense within 10 years and measure a BAC of 0.20 percent or higher, the mandatory jail term increases to 20 days.


There is no difference between a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) and a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) in Virginia. One is not better or worse than the other, and there is no specific BAC associated with either term. Other states may treat these terms differently, but Virginia makes no distinction between the terms DWI and DUI.


It's possible for an individual to ingest more alcohol than they intended and not realize how high their BAC is based solely on number of drinks consumed. For example, let's say someone was enjoying a night out with friends and had two cocktails, not realizing that each cocktail was the alcoholic equivalent of two drinks. If that individual wrongly assumed they were able to drive and was pulled over, they could be charged with a DUI after failing a breath test.

If you need help with criminal defense of a DUI charge in Prince William County or Fairfax County, regardless of BAC result, John Kassabian of Kassabian & Kassabian, PLC, can work with you. John has developed expertise in understanding Virginia DUI laws and has defended those charged with DUI for decades. Contact him now for a free consultation

About the Author

John A. Kassabian

John A. Kassabian joined the family firm in 2002 after having served as a Prosecutor in Fairfax County and Prince William County. Specializing in criminal defense, traffic defense and civil related matters, John has an extensive criminal law background and has handled a wide variety of cases for ...

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