Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Virginia can be a misdemeanor or a felony. Felony DUI charges result from a third or subsequent conviction within 10 years, a DUI resulting in death, or a DUI resulting in serious bodily injury. A DUI resulting in serious bodily injury to another person is also known as DUI Maiming in Virginia.
DUI Maiming in Virginia under Va. Code §18.2-51.4 occurs when an offender drives under the influence of alcohol in a manner that is so reckless that he causes serious injury to another person resulting in permanent and significant physical impairment.
Proof of DUI Maiming in Virginia
To convict an offender of DUI Maiming in Virginia, the Commonwealth must prove the person:
- drove while intoxicated
- in a manner so gross, wanton and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life
- unintentionally caused serious bodily injury to another person, and
- that bodily injury resulted in permanent and significant physical impairment.
Driving While Intoxicated
The Commonwealth must prove that the offender was driving under the influence pursuant to Va. Code §18.2-266. This can be proven with chemical blood or breath tests that allow the court to presume the driver is under the influence. It can also be proven with other evidence indicating intoxication, such as erratic driving behavior, admissions to drinking, and performance on field sobriety tests.
For more information on how the Commonwealth can prove that a driver was under the influence in Virginia, click here.
Reckless Disregard for Human Life
The Commonwealth must prove that the driver’s behavior was so gross, wanton, and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life. Reckless disregard is generally described as criminal negligence. Criminal negligence is judged objectively and depends on whether the offender knew or should have known of the probable consequences of his acts-whether he was aware of the risk created by his conduct. Essentially, negligence is culpable, or criminal, when an offender knows or should know of the risk he is creating by his conduct (the likelihood of injury) and pursues the course of conduct anyway.
Driving under the influence, by itself, does not prove that a driver had a reckless disregard for human life. The Commonwealth must prove that the offender drove in a reckless manner. However, the driver’s intoxication, combined with other evidence, can show a reckless disregard for human life.
Unintentionally Caused Serious Bodily Injury to Another Person
To be convicted of DUI Maiming in Virginia under Va. Code §18.2-51.4, the offender must have caused serious bodily injury to another person. Bodily Injury is very broad and can be caused by any means. Generally, if an injury requires medical attention or lingers for a period of time it meets this definition. Soft tissue injuries that have a residual effect, bruising and broken bones can all be considered bodily injury.
Permanent and Significant Physical Impairment
The serious bodily injury must result in permanent and significant physical impairment to convict an offender of DUI Maiming in Virginia under Va. Code §18.2-51.4 An injury that is not expected to heal might be considered a permanent and significant physical impairment. Scars and even involuntary termination of pregnancy are also considered a permanent and significant physical impairment.
Penalty for DUI Maiming in Virginia
DUI Maiming in Virginia under Va. Code §18.2-51.4 is a Class 6 felony. It is punished with up to 5 years in prison and a fine up to $2500. However, there is a mandatory MINIMUM of 1 year in prison and a mandatory MINIMUM fine of $1000. The offender’s vehicle is subject to seizure and forfeiture, and the DMV will add 6 demerit points to the offender’s Virginia driving record.
The driver’s license will be immediately suspended when he is arrested for DUI Maiming in Virginia. This is called and administrative license suspension and lasts 7 days for a first offense (second and subsequent DUI arrests result in longer periods of administrative license suspension). After a driver is convicted of DUI Maiming in Virginia, his driver’s license will be revoked indefinitely (Va. Code §46.2-391(B)). This means the person will never be able to drive again. The offender can apply for a restricted driver’s license, but must wait at least three years after the date of his conviction. The offender can also petition for restoration of his driving privileges, but must wait at least 5 years from the date of his last conviction. Granting the offender a restricted license or restoring driving privilege is NOT guaranteed and is in the sole discretion of the judge.
For more information on obtaining a restricted driver’s license after a DUI conviction in Virginia, click here.
DUI Maiming in Virginia: Statute
§18.2-51.4. Maiming, etc., of another resulting from driving while intoxicated.
B. The provisions of Article 2 (§ 18.2-266 et seq.) of Chapter 7 of Title 18.2 shall apply, mutatis mutandis, upon arrest for a violation of this section.