Virginia DWI Law: The consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs while having a child in the vehicle with you

Virginia is a tough state when it comes to punishing drunk and drugged drivers.  Virginia is even less tolerant when a person is caught operating a vehicle under the influence with a child (someone 17 years or younger) in the car with them. 

Virginia Code § 18.2-270(D) ​requires a mandatory five-day jail term in addition to all other fines and jail sentences assessed because of the DWI whenever an individual is convicted of being under the influence with a child in the car.  If you are convicted, on top of the additional five-day jail term, you may also be assessed by the court a financial fine of at least $500 and up to $1,000. 

This however is not the end of your charges.  In addition to the DWI (referred to as a DUI in other states, and while DWI is technically correct in the Commonwealth, DUI is often used interchangeably) charge, you may also be charged with child neglect under Virginia Code § 18.2-371.1. Abuse and neglect of children, which can be a class four (4) felony in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Also, if you happen to be in the middle of a dispute over child custody, you should be prepared for this charge to have implications as to your custody rights.

If you have been charged with a DWI in central Virginia, including Richmond, Chesterfield, Henrico, Hanover or the surrounding jurisdictions, and have questions on your criminal defense options or implications on your custody arrangements, reach out to our office at 804.423.1382 or to set up an initial consultation with our own Brandon Nexsen or our family law attorneys and they can help discuss your case and your legal options.