Drunk driving carries harsh penalties in West Virginia

Drunk driving carries harsh penalties in West Virginia
Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense in West Virginia.

Visiting one of our wineries? Enjoying a drink after a hike? Have fun, but use caution. Driving under the influence is considered a serious crime in West Virginia, and penalties can include jail time, stiff fines, the revocation of a license, and the mandated installation of an ignition interlock.


According to West Virginia law, driving under the influence, or DUI, refers to the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances or a combination of both. A blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher is considered the defining quantification for a DUI charge in the Mountain State.

First Time DUI Offense

In West Virginia, you may be remanded to jail for a first time DUI charge, though a first offense DUI is a misdemeanor. Penalties may include:

  • Jail time There is no minimum for a standard first offense, but you can face up to six months in jail.
  • Fines Fines range between $100 and $500 plus court costs.
  • License revocation for six months.
  • Ignition Interlock Requirements An ignition interlock may reduce the time you spend without your license and is required for a minimum of 125 days.
  • Stiffer penalties may occur based on the conditions surrounding your arrest. A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15 percent or higher carries a minimum jail time of two days. If over 0.15 percent, you may also end up paying doubled fines and face a longer period with no license, according to .
  • West Virginia's implied consent laws make it a crime to refuse a breath or blood test to check your blood alcohol level. A first-time offender who refuses a test will have their license revoked for a year.

Repeat Offender

If you have been previously arrested for a DUI, penalties will likely be worse. You will face higher fines, more jail time, and a longer period with no license.

  • Jail time The jail sentence for a second offense is 6 months to a year. Three or more convictions result in a 1 to 3-year sentence.
  • Fines Fines for a second offense range from $1,000 to $3,000. Those fines are $3,000 to $5,000 for subsequent convictions. Additional court costs also apply.
  • License Revocation Your license can be revoked up to 10 years for a second offense or life following a third offense.
  • Ignition Interlock Requirements You must have an ignition interlock for two years following a second conviction.
  • A second offense test refusal results in a five-to-10-year license revocation. A lifetime revocation occurs with three or more offenses.
  • Penalties for underage drinking carry the same punishments as adults. However, underage drinkers can be arrested for a BAC of 0.02 percent. Fines may be lower if BAC is below 0.08 percent, however, you will still lose your license for at least a year.

Ignition Interlock

Whether you're a first-time offender or have been previously charged, you'll likely be required by the court to install ignition interlock system if you have been arrested for . The lock prevents the vehicle from starting if the driver has consumed alcohol. The driver simply blows into the device before starting the car. An ignition interlock system may not be mandatory in all cases, but it can reduce the time you have your license revoked.

The system is not required for the first offense with a BAC under 0.15 percent, however, you can get your license back in less than half the appointed time and possibly have the crime expunged from your record if you participate in the program. If you are a repeat offender or have refused a BAC test, the device is mandatory.

Drunk driving laws in West Virginia carry strict penalties to protect everyone on the road. Using an ignition interlock system can greatly reduce your punishment, and have you safely driving again. If you are convicted of a DUI in West Virginia, contact a lawyer to determine your options.

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