How Much Can Your Drink and Drive in Virginia in 2023

Drink and drive DUI laws in Virginia

In Virginia, the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08% (80 mg alcohol per 100 mL of blood). You can be convicted even if your BAC is less than 0.08% if your driving ability is impaired by alcohol or other substances.

Drivers of commercial vehicles are not permitted to operate if their blood alcohol concentration is 0.04% or above. Drivers under the age of 21 are considered legally drunk if they reach a BAC level of 0.02%. Violations of this state statute may result in a DUI or driving under the influence penalty. 

Drinking one to two standard alcoholic beverages can result in a 0.08% or higher BAC. However, because BAC varies with characteristics such as weight and gender, this figure should only be used as a guideline.

Please keep in mind that the purpose of this post is merely to raise awareness regarding impaired driving in Virginia. This website opposes drunk driving in any state or region.

In Virginia, the NHTSA documented 850 fatal vehicle incidents in 2020. Thirty-four percent of this number included drivers with higher than 0.08% BAC levels.

Impaired driving is dangerous and should be avoided. Use Uber, a designated driver service, or a cab if you must travel after drinking.

Virginia has DUI statutes in place to help reduce the number of drunk driving accidents.  Obeying the state’s drunk driving rules is crucial. If you cannot avoid driving, you should get your blood alcohol level tested before operating a vehicle. Your BAC level can be determined with an alcohol breathalyzer.

We recommend reading Virginia’s Department of Motor Vehicles’ official website for more information about DUI driving restrictions.

Legal Alcohol Limit When Driving in Virginia

Alcohol inhibits sound decision-making, prompting people to do things they would not normally do if sober. It can cause delayed reaction times, reduced reflexes, and altered perceptions of distance and speed.

These things can happen even if you don’t appear or feel intoxicated. Alcohol intoxication symptoms may emerge as soon as you take your first drink.

Alcohol enters the bloodstream within 30 minutes to 2 hours of ingestion. Your respiratory rate may slow, making clear thinking difficult.

Although the legal BAC limit in the state is 0.08%, keep in mind that everyone’s reaction to alcohol is different.

The following factors may have an impact on your blood alcohol concentration:

  • weight,
  • gender,
  • anxiousness and tiredness levels
  • hunger,
  • level of alcohol consumption, and
  • taking prescription medicines.

Some people may become disoriented or even pass out after a few drinks. Although some persons appear normal, their driving abilities may already be affected. As a result, it is best to have your blood alcohol level checked before getting behind the wheel.

A BAC calculator and chart can help you determine the quantity of alcohol you can drink before driving. These tools, however, may not be helpful for everyone because everyone reacts uniquely to alcohol. To accurately assess your BAC, you need to use a certified alcohol breathalyzer.

Punishments for Drinking and Driving in Virginia

Blood alcohol values of 0.010% to 0.029% are unlikely to cause significant impairment. People with this BAC look to be sober. However, as BAC levels rise, signs of alcohol-related impairment become more visible.

An individual is deemed to be driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor if their blood alcohol concentration is 0.08% or more, as determined by a chemical test.

DUI laws differ from state to state. Test your blood alcohol level before driving to avoid fines and penalties.

The DUI penalties in Virginia are outlined below.

First DUI Offense in VA

First-time offenders of DUI in Virginia may face the following penalties:

  • Fines: At least $250
  • License Suspension: Up to one year of license revocation

Second DUI Offense in VA

Second-time DUI offenders may face the following punishment:

  • Jail Time: Up to one-year imprisonment
  • Fines: Minimum $500
  • License Suspension: Up to one-year revocation of license

Third DUI Offense in VA

Third-time DUI offenders are bound to face the following consequences of DUI:

  • Jail Time: Mandatory minimum of 90 days jail time
  • Fines: Minimum of $1,000
  • License Suspension: Indefinite license revocation

Ignition Interlock

  • The court will require first-time DUI offenders in Virginia to have an ignition interlock device (IID) on at least one vehicle they run as a condition of restricted driving privileges.
  • If the court does not impose an ignition interlock, the DMV will require the offender to do so as a condition of restricted driving privileges.
  • For second and subsequent DUI convictions, the court will mandate IID installation in every vehicle the offender owns.

Vehicle Impoundment

If you are caught driving after your license has been suspended for an alcohol-related violation, your car will be seized or immobilized for 90 days. After conviction, the court may impound the vehicle for an additional 90 days. 

The owner of the impounded car (other than the driver) may file a petition for the vehicle’s release. Anyone who knowingly allows a person with a revoked or suspended license to use a motor vehicle can be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Transporting Minors While Under the Influence

Any DUI crime involving an underage passenger (age 17 or younger) at the time of the offense includes a mandatory five-day jail term, in addition, to other fines and jail terms.

Alcohol Education and Treatment Program in VA

All DUI offenders must report to the local Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP) for screening and probationary supervision to reinstate their license. This procedure will determine the most appropriate intervention services.

The offender will shoulder all the expenses for the education program and/or treatment needed.

When Can You Drink and Drive in Virginia?

A range of factors influences a person’s blood alcohol concentration. According to studies, gender has a significant impact on BAC levels. Men and women have different BAC thresholds. 

Men have much higher levels of alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) than women. The ADH enzymes control the metabolism of alcohol. As a result, men absorb alcohol more quickly than women.

The information provided below can assist you in knowing the amount of alcohol you can consume before driving in Virginia.

Although studies back up the information below, remember that everyone reacts differently to alcohol, so it may not apply to everyone.

How Many Bottles of Beers Can You Drink and Drive in Virginia?

How much beer can you drink and drive in Virginia

According to BAC charts, a lighter individual has a higher BAC.

After consuming a 12-ounce (350 ml) beer, a 160-pound male (72 kilos) can have a blood alcohol level of 0.02%.

A female of the same weight and drinking the same amount of alcohol may have a BAC of 0.03%.

This comparison demonstrates how a person’s gender affects how they metabolize alcohol.

Given the above example, limiting your beer consumption to one to two bottles is preferable if you need to drive later.

How Many Glasses of Wine Can You Consume and Drive in Virginia?

The ABV of a standard 5-ounce (142-milliliter) glass of wine is 12%.

As shown in the sample above, a 160-pound male can have a BAC of 0.02% after ingesting one glass of wine. A female of the same weight and drinking habits could have a BAC of 0.03%.

These BAC readings can rise when stress, an empty stomach, and medication use are considered.

If you intend to drive after drinking, one to two glasses of wine should suffice.

How Much Whiskey or Vodka Can You Drink and Drive in Virginia?

Distilled alcohols, such as vodka and whiskey, have an ABV of 40%.

A 160-pound male can have a BAC of 0.02% after consuming a single shot of vodka or whiskey. 

A female of the same weight and intake amount may have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.03%.

As previously stated, BAC levels can rise when other conditions are present.

If you have to drive after drinking, limit yourself to one to two shots of whiskey or vodka.

Sticking to DUI Laws in Virginia

Every driver should be educated on the risks of drunk driving and take every precaution to avoid it. If you are intoxicated, you may lose control over yourself and your vehicle. 

Driving high or intoxicated is dangerous. As a result, the best and safest way is to avoid drinking before driving.

Don’t be complacent with your BAC or driving capacity, even if you only had a few bottles or glasses of alcohol. Instead of driving, consider other ways of transportation.

If you can’t avoid driving after drinking, ensure your driving ability isn’t impaired. It would be best to use a reliable0 alcohol breathalyzer to determine your blood alcohol level.

We recommend reading the state’s DMV official website to learn more about Virginia DUI regulations.

About the author

Ashley Cresswell

Ashley Cresswell is a former phlebotomist with a passion for road safety. During her time as a phlebotomist, Ashley administered over 1000 blood alcohol tests to impaired drivers and was shocked to discover that many of them were simply uninformed about the legal limits for driving under the influence. As a result, Ashley conducted extensive research on scientific studies and local laws to bring drivers a comprehensive resource on drink and drive limits from around the world.