Can DUI Charges Be Made Worse by Having Other Charges at the Same Time?
The state of Virginia takes driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol seriously. When there are other crimes that are charged in conjunction with the DUI, it can significantly worsen the DUI charges, leading to even more stringent outcomes if the driver is convicted.
DUI punishments vary depending on a variety of factors. Still, in general, someone facing their first DUI conviction could have their license suspended for a minimum of 7 days (but could be much longer), a fine of a minimum of $250 and up to $2,500, and up to a year in jail. This is the baseline for a first-time DUI where the blood alcohol content (BAC) is between .08 and .14. When these are combined with DUI charges, the overall consequences can be much worse. Basic DUI charges are often presented as misdemeanors, which is a lesser level of crime. But DUIs can also be charged as felonies, which is much more significant. Situations that could increase the severity of the consequences include higher BACs and any of the following.
If someone is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and causes injury to another person, they may face additional charges of maiming, which is a felony charge. If convicted, the driver could face up to five years in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
However, if the accident caused permanent, significant impairment to the victim, the driver could be charged with a more severe level of felony and face up to 10 years in jail and/or fines of up to $100,000.
In Virginia, vehicular manslaughter (also called involuntary manslaughter) may be charged when someone is deemed to be driving recklessly while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol and unintentionally causing the death of another person. Even if it’s a first-time DUI conviction, the unintentional death can trigger much more severe penalties, including up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
However, if the court finds that the driver engaged in a “reckless disregard for human life,” they may be charged with aggravated vehicular manslaughter. That can lead to up to 20 years in prison and/or fines of up to $2,500 if convicted.
It’s vital to understand that the driver can’t be charged with either form of vehicular manslaughter based solely on having a DUI. Even if evidence proves that the driver was under the influence, the charges still require additional proof that the condition of the driver directly led to the death of the other person. Because the outcomes are significantly different if someone is convicted of a DUI versus a DUI with vehicular manslaughter, it’s highly recommended that the driver work with an experienced DUI attorney who understands what’s at stake.
If the driver charged with a DUI was driving while a child under the age of 17 was in the vehicle, additional charges of child endangerment could be filed. When child endangerment is involved, there are mandatory punishments the driver will face if convicted, including a fine between $500-1,000 and five days in jail. If the child is injured, the consequences will be more severe.
There are other possible outcomes as well, including having visitation or custody rights curtailed or removed altogether.
If a driver charged with a DUI is under the legal drinking age in Virginia (21), convictions could lead to several significant consequences.
- Fines of up to $2,500 and/or jail up to one year
- Driver’s license may be suspended for up to one year (although in some cases, the driver can request the court grant them a restricted driver’s license, which allows them to drive only to and from certain places)
- Up to 50 hours of community service
- Required substance abuse counseling
- Six demerit points on the driver’s driving record, which can cause auto insurance rates to increase
What Are Some Possible Defenses to DUI with Additional Charges in Virginia?
Every case is unique, so a specific defense recommended for one case may not work for another. But some defenses have been used multiple times. Whether or not these would work for your case would be something you’d need to determine from your attorney.
- The injury or death wasn’t caused by the driver under the influence. Other factors may have been involved in the accident that caused the injury or death. This defense could require expert testimony and possible accident re-creation.
- The driver wasn’t technically under the influence. The tests used to determine BAC levels can sometimes be in error.
- Pleading guilty to a lesser charge. This may be something your attorney and the prosecutor could negotiate.
What Should I Do if I’m Charged with a DUI and Another Charge in Virginia?
Call Scott Nolan Criminal Defense as soon as possible at 703-688-9236 to request a free case evaluation. As discussed above, being charged with a DUI combined with other charges can make the consequences of being convicted far worse. Our team of experienced, knowledgeable DUI attorneys understands how difficult this is for you, and we also understand Virginia’s laws. We can walk through your case with you and determine the right approach to achieve the best outcomes.