Virginia Dwi vs Dui

One of the most common questions I hear in my work with DWI/DUI clients is “What’s the difference between a DUI and a DWI?”

This is a very good thing to know because it underline the difference between commonplace usage and legal usage of terms.

In commonplace language, DUI and DWI mean pretty much the same thing: Driving or operating machinery under the influence of some substance that impairs your abilities, usually alcohol. It’s a very loose designation.

Legally, DUI stands for “Driving Under the Influence” and DWI stands for “Driving While Intoxicated.” You might even occasionally see the acronym DUID, or “Driving Under the Influence of Drugs.”

Virginia law, under section 18.2-266, generally writes the charges on the official paperwork as DWI. But many people in the legal system say DUI, just because it rolls off the tongue more easily.

18.2-266 is a fairly broad statute. It prohibits operating a motor vehicle — any kind of motor, even a forklift, if you’re under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or any kind of substance that alters your abilities, like cold medication. Even a prescription medication can cause a DUI.

So whether you’ve been charged with a DUI or a DWI, it’s pretty much the same offense because it’s breaking a specific law. Regardless of the circumstances, however, you should have an experienced DUI/DWI attorney go over your case for you. I have seen many cases where the defendant received penalties that could easily have been avoided with experienced legal counsel.

To discuss your specific case, call us at for a free consultation at (703) 934-0101

Beating Your Dwi In Virginia

Conviction of a Virginia DWI offense can do more than affect your driving record — it can affect your future. It’s important to mount an effective defense in these cases because of the deleterious effect a conviction may have on your life.

There are many ways to argue or overturn a charge of DWI in Virginia. Here’s a small selection:

You may have been pulled over illegally: It is not illegal to weave within a lane of traffic — as long as you do not cross over the lines, you cannot be pulled over for that reason. In addition, there may have been inclement weather, high winds, or low visibility which might explain oddities in driving patterns.

Not only are many common field sobriety tests considered invalid by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, breathalysers are themselves unreliable, and subject to well-documented inaccuracies. Field sobriety tests are often inaccurate, and are totally invalidated if the subject is overweight, elderly, or has a medical condition. Finally, even blood tests are routinely mishandled, failing to follow set guidelines for testing, analysis and preservation.

Officers may not make misleading statements in order to secure a breathalyzer or blood test. They may not search a vehicle without probable cause. You cannot be suspended for drunk driving if you have not been on a public highway. In addition, a breathalyser test must be performed by an individual trained and licensed to run the equipment. The evidence is inadmissible if the operator’s license is out of date.

We will examine these and many more avenues of defense if you retain us as your counsel. To discuss your specific case, call us at for a free consultation at (703) 934-0101

Fairfax Va Dui Defense lawyers

Fairfax VA DUI charges are serious, as they can result in significant penalties upon conviction. Between losing your driver’s license and having to serve jail time to potentially losing your job and damaging your reputation, Virginia DUI convictions can have incredibly severe consequences that can damage your life for years to come. However, it is important to note that being charged with driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs does not necessarily mean that you will be convicted. A skilled Fairfax VA DUI defense attorney can be key to helping you get the charges against you dismissed or reduced.

Virginia DWI and DUI charges are some of the most complex cases in the criminal justice system. Even relative to complex Virginia reckless driving cases, DWI defense is an extraordinarily specialized practice. DWIs are the most frequently litigated and changing part of criminal law. A frequently cited example of the complexity DWI law is that Virginia DWI statute is comprised of over 20 separate statutes, taking up over 50 pages. By comparison homicide has only 8 statutes and substantially fewer pages.

There are a number of factors that can alter the punishment for a person convicted of a Fairfax Virginia DUI / DWI. Judges will often consider the person’s prior driving record, whether there was an accident, plus other considerations in each case. However, there are minimum punishments which often apply. The minimum punishment for a Fairfax Virginia DUI / DWI depends on how high their BAC is and whether the person has prior DUI / DWIs.

To learn more about Virginia DUI / DWI laws, visit our Fairfax Virginia DUI / DWI FAQ page.

Regardless of the types of Fairfax VA DUI charges that you may be facing, our prominent DUI  lawyers will be able to help you defend your rights. Among the types of DUI charges that we are skilled at defending include (but are not limited to):

  • First-time DUI charges
  • Multiple DUI charges
  • Underage DUIs
  • DUIs and drugs charges
  • Commercial driver’s license DUIs
  • DUIs and manslaughter charges
  • DUIs and criminal charges

Your DUI / DWI case is unique and many factors contribute to the outcome. The broader the experience of your Fairfax DUI Attorney, the better equipped they will be to effectively advise and represent you. At the Rosenthall Law Office, we have the experience to analyze the factors involved in your case and give you sound legal advice. To discuss your case, and how we will develop your defense, please contact us today for a free initial consultation, as well as expert Virginia legal advice regarding how to proceed with your Fairfax DUI / DWI case, call the accomplished Fairfax Virginia DUI Defense Lawyers at: (703) 934-0101

Virginia Dui Penalties

When it comes to a DUI charge in the Commonwealth of Virginia there many factors that can change the punishment for a person convicted of a Virginia DUI / DWI. Virginia drunk driving laws use a tiered system of penalties, with heftier fines and longer license suspensions and jail time for repeat offenders. Whether or not a serious or fatal accident was involved can also significantly influence the penalties for a DUI / DWI conviction.

In Virginia, judges will often consider the accused’s prior driving record, whether there was an accident, plus other considerations in each case. However, there are minimum punishments which often apply. The minimum punishment for a Virginia DUI depends on how high their Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is and whether the person has prior DUIs. A Virginia DUI arrest or conviction may also result in time away from work, or even job loss. A conviction on your record can also make it more difficult to obtain future employment so treat a DUI arrest seriously.

Virginia DUI / DWI 1st, BAC .14 or below

In these cases, there is no required active jail time. It is not unusual to get all suspended jail time, a fine of about $300 and a 12 month loss of license. Individuals in this category will often be allowed to get a Restricted license to drive to work and for other essential travel, but not for any social purposes.

Virginia DUI / DWI 1st, BAC .15-.20

Defendants convicted of their 1st DWI with a BAC between .15-20 face a mandatory 5 days in jail. Additionally, there is likely to be additional suspended jail time, a fine, and a 12 month loss of license. A restricted license may be granted, but typically the defendant will be required to be approved by the ASAP program. The DMV will also require an ignition interlock.

Virginia DUI / DWI 1st, BAC above .20

Defendants in this category face a mandatory 10 days in jail. They will also face a fine and a 12 month loss of license. Completion of the ASAP program is also required. If a restricted license is granted, the DMV will require the defendant’s vehicle be equipped with ignition interlock.

Virginia DUI / DWI, 2nd in 10 years BAC below .15

Defendants in this category face a mandatory 10 days in jail based upon it being their second offense. They will also face a mandatory $500 fine. A conviction will result in a 3 year loss of license and a requirement to complete the ASAP program.

Virginia DUI / DWI 2nd in 10 years, BAC .15-.20

Defendants in this category face a mandatory 10 days in jail based upon it being their second offense and another 10 days based on the elevated BAC for a total minimum of 20 days.  Mandatory $500 fine. Additionally, a conviction will result in a 3 year loss of license and a requirement to complete the ASAP program.

Virginia DUI / DWI 2nd in 10 years, BAC .21 or higher

Mandatory 10 days in jail based upon it being their second offense and another 20 days based on the elevated BAC for a total minimum of 30 days. Mandatory $500 fine. Additionally, a conviction will result in a 3 year loss of license and a requirement to complete the ASAP program.

Virginia DUI / DWI 2nd in 5 years, BAC below .15

Mandatory 20 days in jail based upon it being their second offense. Mandatory $500 fine. Additionally, a conviction will result in a 3 year loss of license and a requirement to complete the ASAP program. If a restricted license is approved ignition interlock will be required.

Virginia DUI / DWI 2nd in 5 years, BAC .15-.20

Mandatory 20 days in jail based upon it being their second offense and another 10 days based on the elevated BAC for a total minimum of 30 days. Mandatory $500 fine. Additionally, a conviction will result in a 3 year loss of license and a requirement to complete the ASAP program. If a restricted license is approved ignition interlock will be required.

Virginia DUI / DWI 2nd in 5 years, BAC .21 or higher

Defendants in this category face a mandatory 20 days in jail based upon it being their second offense and another 20 days based on the elevated BAC for a total minimum of 40 days. Mandatory $500 fine. Additionally, a conviction will result in a 3 year loss of license and a requirement to complete the ASAP program. If a restricted license is approved ignition interlock will be required.

Virginia DUI / DWI 3rd or Subsequent

Any individual convicted of 3 or more DWIs in 10 years or less faces a felony conviction. Even relative to misdemeanor punishments, these cases have factors that cause tremendous differences in the outcome of the case. A DWI 3rd in 10 years faces a minimum of 90 days in jail. A DWI 3rd in 5 years faces a minimum of 6 months in jail. A 4th DWI faces a minimum of one year in jail.

Every case is unique and has a number of factors that may impact the outcome of the case. The Virginia DUI Lawyers at The Law Firm of Faraji Rosenthall understand the true cost of a Virginia DUI conviction can have very little to do with the punishment handed down by a judge. Typically, a first-time offender could face several days in jail, $1,000 in fines and court costs, community service, alcohol assessment classes, and license suspension.

The Virginia Vasap Program

The Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program, also known as ASAP or VASAP is a state-run educational program that improves highway safety by decreasing the incidence of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

All individuals convicted of a DWI in Virginia are required by law to participate in VASAP.

Individuals convicted of DWI are assigned to a VASAP counselor, regardless of whether they received a jail time sentence or merely a suspended license. The counselor will evaluate the individual in order to design a program for him/her. The VASAP counselor  will discuss your at-risk behaviors, your previous record, as well as a number of other factors that impact your risk status. The counsellor will then create a program of treatment, which you are required to comply with fully. The penalty for not complying can result in jail time.

VASAP offers a wide range of programs in order to tailor their approach to each individual’s specific situations.

Most basic is the Education Program, a 20-hour program during which participants are expected to maintain sobriety. The Intensive Education program is likewise 20 hours, but is geared towards individuals at increased risk for addiction. VASAP also offers treatment programs for addicted individuals at state-approved facilities.

VASAP offers a Young Offenders Program as well as many programs for Habitual Offenders. The focus of all the programs is to educate, raise self-awareness and -esteem and reduce recidivism.