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New DUI Laws in Virginia Expand Restricted License Privileges for Some

Posted by John A. Kassabian | Aug 11, 2020

Woman driving on empty highway
Photo by Tim Foster of Unsplash

Virginia DUI laws regarding restricted licenses changed on July 1, allowing significantly more freedom to some drivers who have been convicted of a DUI. Where previous restricted licenses limited the types of driving someone was allowed to do after a DUI, the amended Virginia DUI statute expands when and where you may travel. There is, of course, a tradeoff, and you will have to agree to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle for the full duration of the license suspension (as opposed to a minimum 6 months ignition interlock requirement). I'll tell you more about the amendment to VA Code 18.2-270.1 below, and how to find out if you are eligible for the new restricted license. If you have questions about this, a Fairfax DUI lawyer at Kassabian & Kassabian, P.L.C. can help.

New Changes Allow More Freedom for Drivers

Under previous Virginia DUI laws, if you were convicted of a first-offense DUI, you automatically faced a one-year license suspension. During this suspension period, you could request a restricted license that would allow you to drive in a limited capacity to complete necessary trips such as traveling to work or to pick your kids up from school. To receive approval from the DMV for a restricted license, you also had to agree to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle for a minimum of six months.

Under the new changes made to the Virginia DUI statute, drivers who are eligible can request permission from the court to receive a restricted license where they are permitted to drive for any purpose. In order to be approved, however, there are several requirements you must first meet.

For one, you have to be an adult at the time you were charged, and it must be your first DUI offense. In addition, your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) must have been .15 or below at the time you were charged. To get the restricted “any purpose” license, you'll also need to agree to install the ignition interlock device on your vehicle for a full 12 months. (Note that this is an increase from the minimum 6 months required under the previous law.) Depending on the circumstances of your case and your criminal record, however, the court may instead order a limited restricted license for one year and 6 months with an ignition interlock device.

What if I'm Not Eligible?

If you are not eligible under the current requirements, there may still be hope, it just may not be immediate. On July 1, 2021, Virginia DUI Code will change again when a new subsection is added, allowing those who meet the following requirements to be eligible for an “any purpose” restricted license. The requirements are much stricter, but they will allow you to drive where you need to.

First of all, you must install an ignition interlock device for 12 months. You must also have a remote alcohol monitoring device (which allows the court to track your BAC at any time) throughout the period where you have an ignition interlock device. In addition, you must agree to not consume alcohol during this time period, attend alcohol safety classes, and to pay a $20 court and administrative fee.

While these requirements can be tough to meet, for many people the freedom will be worth it. If you are struggling with eligibility for a restricted or “any purpose” license after a DUI charge, a Fairfax DUI lawyer may be able to help. In addition, penalties for DUIs in Virginia continue to be harsh, and DUI arrests in Virginia are on the rise as we spend more time outside the house this summer. Virginia DUI expungement is difficult, but in many cases, a qualified lawyer can be of enormous help to your case. 

Kassabian & Kassabian, P.L.C. brings over 25 years of experience helping people facing DUIs in Fairfax and Northern Virginia get justice. You will always work one-on-one with John Kassabian and receive dedicated personalized attention for your case.

Contact John Kassabian for a free consultation today at (703) 750-3622.

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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