Is there any way I can keep my driver’s license after a DUI conviction?
Suspension or Revocation of Driver’s License
After conviction for DUI, the court and DMV will both take your driver’s license. Technically, the court suspends the privilege to drive in Virginia and sends the information to the DMV which revokes the license. The suspension/revocation periods for DUI convictions are:
- First DUI conviction—one year.
- Second DUI conviction within ten years—three years.
- Any felony DUI conviction (third offense, fourth offense, DUI after felony DUI conviction)—indefinite revocation with a five-year minimum before requesting restoration of driving privileges.
The administrative license suspension following arrest for DUI and before trial does not count towards the post-conviction suspension.
Restricted Driver’s Licenses for DUI Convictions
Misdemeanor DUI Convictions
The trial court can grant a restricted driver’s license after misdemeanor DUI convictions unless the driver’s license is suspended for another reason like a simultaneous conviction for refusal or other DUI related offense. Eligible driving purposes include travel to and from:
- Business for an employer during work hours (excludes driving commercial vehicles)
- Health care, which can include care of others
- School, daycare, or medical services for minor children under your care
- Court-ordered visitation with your children
- Appointments required by the Department of Child Support Enforcement
- Ignition interlock services
- VASAP or other court-ordered rehabilitation programs
- Religious services once a week at designated times
- Court appearances if subpoenaed as a witness or you are a party to the case
- Probation appointments
- Jail to serve a sentence on weekends or non-consecutive days
The law now requires installation of ignition interlock for all drivers convicted of DUI for at least six months. If the court grants a restricted driver’s license, you cannot drive until ignition interlock has been installed except to the ignition interlock facility for installation. The statute also requires enrollment in VASAP within fifteen days from the date the court issues the restricted license.
There is a four-month waiting-period for a restricted driver’s license after a second DUI conviction within five to ten years, and a one-year waiting-period after a second DUI conviction within less than five years.
Restricted licenses are not guaranteed unless there is a plea agreement with the prosecutor. Some judges grant them less often than others, and some prosecutors object to a restricted driver’s license more than others. It is important to prepare to convince the judge that granting a restricted driver’s license is appropriate on the day of trial in case of a conviction. This may mean having evidence or witnesses present in court just for that purpose.
The loss of driving privileges is often the most disruptive consequence of a DUI conviction, at least in the short-term. The chances of receiving a restricted driver’s license if convicted at trial may affect plea negotiations and the decision to accept or reject a plea offer depending on how important it is to continue driving. If driving is important to you and your family, discuss your options with your attorney right away so you can work together to come up with a plan that gives you the best chance of getting a restricted driver’s license if you are convicted of your DUI.
Felony DUI Convictions
The trial court cannot grant a restricted driver’s license for felony DUI convictions. However, you can petition the circuit court where you live for a restricted driver’s license three years after the last conviction. Unlike restricted permits for misdemeanors, it only allows driving to work and for employment during working hours. To receive one, you must convince the court that any alcohol or substance abuse issues are under control and there is no danger to the community by reinstating driving privileges.