West Virginia Drunk Driving Laws

Whether you were darting between cars in traffic or you cut off a cop, reckless driving is enough for West Virginia police to pull you over and test your sobriety. Keep in mind that, in most cases, it is in your best interests to submit to a breathalyzer test. If you were charged with a DUI under West Virginia drunk driving laws, prepare yourself for the consequences by reading the information below.

What West Virginia Law Says

West Virginia police use breathalyzer tests and field sobriety tests to determine whether a driver was recently drinking. West Virginia law sets the following limits to blood alcohol concentration (BAC), as measured by a breathalyzer:

  • 21 Years or Older : Cannot exceed 0.08 percent (West Virginia Code Chapter 17C-5-2)
  • Under 21 Years Old : Cannot exceed 0.02 percent (Ch. 17B-4-3)
  • Suspended License : Cannot exceed 0.02 percent
  • Commercial Driver (21 and up) : Cannot exceed 0.04 percent (Ch. 17E-1-14).

Like many other states, West Virginia uses a point system which increases the penalty for repeat offenders. These are the possible penalties you face if you are a DUI offender:

  • First Drunk Driving Offense: The first time you are charged with drunk driving, you will face a maximum of 6 months in prison -- though often first time offenders avoid jail time -- a fine of $100 to $1,000, and suspension of your driver's license from 15 to 45 days (Ch. 17C-5-2(r)).
  • Second Drunk Driving Offense: If this is the second time you have been charged with drunk driving, you will face 6-12 months in prison, a fine of $1,000 - $3,000, and your driver's license will be suspended for 1 year (Ch. 17C-5-2(l)).
  • Third Drunk Driving Offense: If this is your third offense, you're looking at 2 to 5 years in prison, fines between $3,000 and $5,000, and suspension of your driver's license for 1 year (Ch. 17C-5-2(m)).
  • Drunk Driving with a Suspended License: If you are convicted of drunk driving while your license was suspended, your license will be suspended for an additional six months (Ch. 17B-4-3(d)).

Read the full text of the West Virginia Statutes for more details.

I Was Arrested for Drunk Driving: What's Next?

Many people think that when they're arrested for a DUI, their best bet is to refuse a breathalyzer test. While you do have the right to refuse a breathalyzer test, you should know that West Virginia follows the implied consent rule. Like DUI convictions, refusing a breathalyzer test is punished according to a tiered system. Often, the better approach is to submit to the breathalyzer test and then challenge the results later on.

  • First Refusal: Your license will be suspended for between 45 days and one year. If your license is reinstated after 45 days, you must use a car ignition interlock device for one year (Ch. 17C-5-7(a)).
  • Second Refusal: Your driver's license will be suspended for 5 to 10 years (Ch. 17C-5-7(a)).
  • Third Refusal: Your driver's license will be suspended for life (Ch. 17C-5-7(a)).

Get a Free Case Review from a West Virginia Attorney

While you should never drink and drive, it's important that you know that it is possible to fight a DUI charge. But it's best to start as soon as possible after you are charged. One possible defense is to demonstrate that the law enforcement officer did not follow proper procedures when he pulled you over or when he administered the field sobriety test. If you were arrested for driving under the influence, get a free legal review from an attorney who is experienced with West Virginia drunk driving laws.

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