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A boozy legacy

Of all the unique histories that make up these United States, not a one is more sinfully soaked in the pleasures of the devil’s juice than the old Mountain State. Yep, we’re talking West Virginia, and their delightfully illicit moonshine-making traditions. Though it can be obtained from a number of legal distilleries these days, plenty of folks will tell you that you haven’t really lived (or, perhaps, come close to dying) until you’ve sampled a little home brew – and we mean a little. Just a shot or two of something that strong will put you in one cozy state of mind, just perfect for enjoying a night of country and bluegrass on somebody’s back porch.

It goes without saying that something like that – or anything alcoholic, for that matter – has no place in the equation if you’re planning on driving somewhere. Yes, even if you really need a hillbilly-style burger to finish off the night, decadently smothered in pulled pork, melted cheese, and jalapenos. Or a crispy slice of pizza baked to perfection in a cast iron skillet. Or a massive plate of BBQ ribs to share among friends. You get it! There’s enough tasty food in WV to make any drunkie happier than Kim Kardashian at a Spanx sale. But the point we’re trying to make here is this: Don’t drive drunk in West Virginia! As you’ll find out pretty soon, the laws surrounding that particular life decision are not to be trifled with. So by all means, sample that ‘shine…but find a designated driver first.

Definitely don’t go it alone

If you’ve found yourself in such an undesirable position, you just might feel like giving up and accepting a DUI conviction. But you should consider yourself warned that even a first-time conviction can have devastating effects upon both your reputation and your wallet, and is often attached to brutal insurance rate hikes and even mandatory jail time in some cases.

“So where do I start?” you might ask. Well, you’re going to want to do some research on attorneys in your area, and be sure to find one who specializes in DUI law. Not every guy in the yellow pages will be equipped to review your case at superior levels of expertise. And you’re going to want to plan ahead. The sooner you act the better! All DUI arrests in West Virginia are linked to an automatic license suspension just 30 days later – which can last anywhere from 15 days to one full year depending on the nature of your infraction, so having an experienced person of the law on your side can be very beneficial as you’re deciding what to do. Many lawyers will give you a free consultation just for reaching out to them. And hey, you’re already on BernieSez! You’re not doing too bad so far.

Let’s say you’ve made it to this step; you’ve gotten past the desperation, self-loathing, varying states of anxiety… And look at you! You’ve gotten a lead on a pretty reputable attorney. But you’re still not convinced that you’ll be given a second chance. Lucky for you, there are two possible courses of action that you might take moving forward. And if you play your cards right, either one could result in you getting your license back. You can either:

  1. Challenge the suspension by way of administrative hearing. If you plan on doing this, you should be aware that a good reason for challenging it is in order – that is, you and your lawyer should be able to point out a serious flaw in the process which resulted in your being pulled over and/or arrested.
  2. Go for the ignition interlock device (IID) law deal. A sufficient number of DUI-related convictions result in the mandatory installation and upkeep of an IID in your vehicle for a set amount of time following the reinstatement of your license. The only time when this doesn’t come into play is on some first-time offenses. According to IID-related law, you may trade your license revocation or suspension time, which just gets added onto whatever IID requirement you were originally facing in addition to the prescribed revocation.

What’s the worst that could happen?

There is always a final option when it comes to dealing with a DUI charge: Do nothing, and put yourself at the complete mercy of the DMV and the court system. Hopefully we don’t have to be the ones to tell you that this isn’t the best idea, especially if expert opinion tells you that some sort of defense is possible. But it does make one a little curious: What are the minimum and maximum sentencing possibilities in the state of West Virginia? We’re glad you asked. While you’re reading, keep in mind that the state lookback period for DUI’s is 10 years – that is, crimes committed within 10 years of one another can be considered a second or third offense (and so on) and therefore attached to heightened penalties.

  • First offense: A misdemeanor offense.
    • Fines ranging from $100-1,000.
    • Up to six months in jail. There is no mandatory minimum jail sentence.
    • License suspension for 15 to 45 days, followed by nine months of driving only with an IID in your vehicle.
    • Substance abuse classes at the judge’s discretion.
  • Second offense: Also a misdemeanor.
    • Fines ranging from $1,000-3,000.
    • A minimum of six months and up to one full year in jail.
    • License revocation for one full year, followed by two years of driving with an IID.
    • Substance abuse classes at the judge’s discretion.
  • Third offense: A felony offense.
    • Fines ranging from $3,000-5,000.
    • One to three full years in prison.
    • License revocation for one full year, followed by two years of driving with an IID.
    • Substance abuse classes at the judge’s discretion.

“But wait a minute,” you might ask, “what actually is an illegal legal of intoxication in West Virginia? Like, is it a lot?” As it turns out, WV plays by the same rules that many other states abide by: You’ll be busted if your BAC is 0.08% or higher for all standard over-21 drivers, 0.04% or higher for all commercial over-21 drivers, and 0.02% or higher for all drivers under the age of 21.

 

No blow? No go

If you’re new to the whole DUI penalty system in whatever state you’re in, you might be tempted to believe that the denial of a breathalyzer or other chemical test is within your rights, given the unreasonable searches or seizures clause of the constitution, or whatever other legal evidence you manage to dig up. Well, we unfortunately have some bad news for you: The legality of that matter has already been decided by the West Virginia legislature – and it’s a big, fat no. In other words, the refusal of a chemical test will essentially be interpreted as an admission of guilt, and you will more than likely face a lengthy license suspension with little room for negotiation. To give you an idea, refer to the following penalty breakdown, according to the number of times you have refused.

 

  • First refusal: A one-year license revocation. You do have the option of trading this in for a 45-day suspension, plus an additional year driving only with an IID.
  • Second refusal: A ten-year license suspension (which can be reduced to five years provided you pass some tests and prove your worth.) Yeah, they ain’t messing around.
  • Third refusal: A lifetime license revocation.

 

West Virginia DUI? BernieSez is your friend

Even in a situation as seemingly dire as a DUI accusation, there can be light at the end of the tunnel. More often than not this sort of light isn’t achievable all on your own – you’ll have to hire a lawyer to help you see just a little more clearly. In the state of West Virginia, plea bargaining is your friend, and that is something that is very difficult to do by yourself. For instance, you might be able to negotiate the lessening of your charges and turn them into something called a “wet reckless”, or a reckless driving charge with substantially less terrible and life-altering penalties that does not involve you being labeled a drunk driver. No matter where you are in the justice-seeking process, and no matter how severe your crime might have been, help is always out there. So go ahead – browse the blog and consulting information available on BernieSez, and do what you need to do to get on the road to recovery today.