Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense that could result in stiff penalties under West Virginia DUI laws. While some laws span the nation, others are state specific. Learn what constitutes a DUI in West Virginia, potential penalties for DUI and programs in which an offender might have to participate.
General West Virginia DUI Laws
As with other states, West Virginia DUI laws mandate that anyone 21 years and older who has a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .08 percent or higher can be convicted of a DUI. And a DUI can be issued to any driver younger than the age of 21 with a BAC of .02 percent or higher.
West Virginia’s implied consent law punishes drivers who refuse to submit to a chemical test. They could be subject to fines and automatic suspension of their driver’s license. For a first-time offender, the license can be suspended for a year. It may be shortened to 45 days with an additional year of an ignition interlock device.
For a second offense, punishment may include a five- or 10-year license suspension. And for a third-time offense, the license could be suspended for a lifetime.
If someone is convicted under West Virginia DUI laws on their first offense, there is no jail time required (this doesn’t mean it won’t be ruled as such, though). However, a second offense warrants a minimum six months and one year for a third offense. Fines may range from $100 to $1,000.
DUI Safety and Treatment Program Laws
Before a driver’s license can be reinstated, West Virginia DUI laws rule that anyone who has been convicted of a DUI must undergo a substance abuse evaluation. If the evaluator determines it’s necessary to complete a treatment program, the individual must attend. Additionally, the offender must complete an 18-hour DUI safety and treatment education program successfully.
Those with two or more DUI offenses are considered to be habitual offenders. In some cases, they may be advised to seek assessment and admission to a substance abuse treatment program that is designed for habitual offenders.
Hardship License Laws
In certain circumstances, when a driver has been convicted of a DUI, it might be possible to avoid a license suspension or at least be granted limited driving privileges. This is called a hardship license and is only permitted when there is good cause. For instance, it would cause a hardship to the driver, minors who are dependent on him/her or a business where the driver provides goods or services.
The West Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) determines if a driver qualifies for a hardship license. If approved, the individual must have an ignition interlock device (part of the Alcohol Test and Lock Program) installed and complete a treatment program. If someone was convicted of any driving violation while the license was suspended within two years of applying for the test and lock program, West Virginia DUI laws state that a hardship license won’t be granted.
Alcohol Test and Lock Program (ATLP)
This program is only available for those convicted of an alcohol-related DUI (drug-related doesn’t qualify). Individuals who participate must pay for all costs and cannot exit the ATLP until completing the state’s safety and treatment program.
The device requires the driver to submit a breath sample before driving his/her vehicle. If it’s higher than the preset limit of 0.25, the vehicle won’t start. There will also be random “rolling retests” that require a breath sample. If it’s higher than the limit, the horn will be triggered and won’t stop until the vehicle is turned off or a clean breath sample is submitted.
The device is installed for a minimum of 125 days for a first offense. But the time period may vary, depending on the circumstances. For instance, if someone is killed because of the driver’s reckless disregard, it would need to be installed for a minimum of two years. Keep in mind that despite minimum requirements, the courts may tack on additional time.
Regardless of West Virginia DUI laws, those who have been victimized by a drunk driver may be entitled to pursue legal action. If you were seriously injured or a loved one was killed by a driver convicted of DUI, the next step is to contact an attorney at the Miley Legal Group in Clarksburg at 304-326-1800.