First Time DUI Charges in Henrico County

Henrico County like many of the areas in and around Richmond takes a zero tolerance policy toward DUIs so the prosecutors will pursue even first offense cases very vigorously. For this reason, if you have been accused, it is imperative that you consult with a Henrico County DUI lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case and begin building your defense. Call today.

Where First time DUI Charges are Heard

Charges in Henrico County are heard in the Henrico County General District Court. The general district court is located of East Parham Road and that is the general district court actually occupies the first floor of the court’s building and there’re four court rooms where these matters are heard.

Penalties For a First Time DUI

 A first offense DUI is a class 1 misdemeanor, making it a criminal charge. It carries up to 12 months in jail, up to $2500 fine and a 12 month loss of license. In addition to that you are required to complete the VASAP course, which is the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program. You can get a restricted license with a first offense DUI, however, you will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on the vehicle.

There are no diversionary programs or probation when it comes to first time offenses in Henrico County. Again Henrico is a zero tolerance policy county so they will pursue a conviction in every case.

How Courts Treat First Time DUI Charges

The courts are very strict in application of the law when it comes to DUI charges whether it’s a first offense or a third. The judges and/or juries are not lenient just because it’s a first offense. The judges will still impose the same penalties and in many case they will actually go above and beyond the minimum mandatory penalties on a first offense if the circumstances are aggravated.

Building a Defense

 On a first time DUI charge what an attorney will try and establish is if there’s probable cause for the stop. A Henrico County DUI lawyer will want to determine if the state can show that you were operating the vehicle and what circumstances led to the stop and/or how the officer conducted his or her arrest.  Also, the defense will look for the procedures used in making the arrests and the field sobriety tests conducted by the officer. We’ll also look at the information on the blood alcohol machine. We’ll typically file what is called a FOIA request to get information on how the machine was operating when the test was done and if it was operating correctly and properly used.

Driver’s License Penalties

After being arrested on a first offense DUI, your license will be suspended for seven days. This is an administrative suspension. After seven days, you can get your license back. If you’re convicted on a DUI charge, your license will be suspended for 12 months and that is automatic. You can obtain a restricted operator’s license for to and from work, to and from childcare, and other necessities. If you are granted restricted privileges, you are required to have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle for a minimum of six months.

Challenging a License Suspension

In theory you can challenge the administrative suspension, however it’s not likely to be overturned. The only way you can challenge this suspension would be to bring a motion before the court to challenge the stop or to raise an issue with the machine. Again in most cases this is highly unlikely that they would overturn this. Regarding the actual suspension upon conviction, there’s nothing you can do to overturn that. That is statutorily required.

Biggest Mistakes to Avoid

The biggest mistake for first time DUI defendants is to attempt to try and handle it on their own. We routinely see individuals thinking that just because it’s a first offense that the court will go easy on them. Unfortunately again in Henrico County there’s a zero tolerance policy toward DUIs. If you are convicted of a DUI there is a high likelihood you will receive an active jail sentence.  In addition, other penalties including license suspension can have a long term financial impact on you.