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Don't let DUI penalties ruin your good cheer this holiday season

Christmas parties and New Year's Eve parties are just around the corner. For most adults, going to these parties means having to decide if they will partake in holiday spirits that are being offered. While there is nothing wrong with an adult consuming alcohol, it is vital for adults who drink to remember that driving after they drink can lead to trouble. As a reminder, here are some of the basics regarding Virginia's drunk driving laws.

For people who are 21 years old or over, a blood alcohol concentration percentage of .08 or higher is considered legally drunk. Anyone who is caught driving with a BAC of .08 percent or more will be arrested. The consequences for a DUI conviction are based on your BAC and how many prior offenses you have on your record.

A first offense can lead to a minimum fine of $250, a 7-day license suspension, a restricted driver's license and other possible consequences.

A second offense can lead to a fine of at least $500, a 60-day license suspension, a license revocation, a minimum of 10 days to one month jail time depending on when the prior conviction was and other consequences.

A third offense is a felony charge that has a minimum fine of $1,000, possible vehicle seizure, 90 days to 6 months in jail at a minimum and other consequences.

A fourth offense leads to a minimum of one year in jail, indefinite license revocation, a $1,000 fine and possible seizure of your vehicle.

While those consequences are bad enough on their own, they are increased even more if you are considered to have a high BAC or have a minor in the car. A BAC of at least .15 adds additional days in jail. A BAC of .20 or higher doubles the extra days in jail and an additional fine is also possible.

With these consequences in mind, it is imperative that anyone who drinks stays out of the driver's seat. If you are caught driving drunk, mounting a strong defense is your right. Understanding your rights and the laws can help you decide on a defense strategy.

Source: DMV.org, "DUI & DWI in Virginia" Dec. 16, 2014

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