Understanding Virginia’s implied consent law

On Behalf of | Jun 19, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

Many Virginia drivers have heard of the state’s implied consent law, but very few understand the mechanics of the law or the serious effect it can have on a person’s right to operate a motor vehicle in the commonwealth.

The basic law

Under the implied consent law, anyone who drives on state roadways consents in advance to a blood alcohol test or drug test if they are pulled over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. A person may be asked to take such tests if the arresting officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the person was driving under the influence of any drug or combination of drugs or the combined influence of alcohol and drugs.

Penalties for refusal

If a person unreasonably refuses a request to submit to a field sobriety test, he or she faces a number of different penalties. If the refusal was a first violation, the court suspends the individual’s license to drive for one year. If a person is found to have violated the implied consent law within 10 years prior to the instant violation, that person can be found guilty of a Class I misdemeanor. This conviction deprives the defendant of the privilege of driving in Virginia for an additional three years. Additional penalties may be imposed if circumstances warrant such penalties.


The penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol in Virginia are very serious. The advice of a knowledgeable attorney can be an essential defense against a serious conviction and the penalties that attach to these laws.