West Virginia Drunk Driving Laws in 2023: How Much Alcohol Can You Drink and Drive?

Drink and drive DUI laws in West Virginia

In West Virginia, the legal blood alcohol level (BAC) is 0.08% (80 mg alcohol per 100 mL of blood). It is essential to know that even if your BAC is less than 0.08%, you can still be arrested if your driving abilities are impaired by alcohol or other substances.

Drivers of commercial vehicles in WV are not permitted to drive if their blood alcohol content is 0.04% or higher. Additionally, drivers under 21 are not allowed to have a BAC level of 0.02% in their system. Violations of this state statute may result in a DUI charge, often known as driving under the influence. 

One to two standard alcoholic beverages may result in a 0.08% or higher BAC. However, because BAC varies according to parameters such as weight and gender, this proportion should only be used as a guideline.

The purpose of this post is merely to raise awareness about impaired driving in West Virginia. We do not advocate or encourage drunk driving in any state or region.

According to NHTSA records, 76 out of 267 fatal collisions in West Virginia in 2020 involved drivers with a BAC level of 0.08% and higher.

Driving under the influence is dangerous and should be avoided. Use Uber, a designated driver service, or a cab if you must travel after drinking.

West Virginia has DUI statutes in place to decrease the number of drunk driving incidents. Furthermore, the government is attempting to reduce the legal limit from 0.08% to 0.05%.

Following the state’s drunk driving rules is crucial. If you must drive, have your blood alcohol level assessed before getting behind the wheel. Your BAC level can be determined with an alcohol breathalyzer.

We recommend checking the official website of West Virginia’s Division of Motor Vehicles for further information about DUI driving limitations.

Legal Alcohol Limit When Driving in West Virginia

When you consume alcohol, it enters your bloodstream within 30 minutes to 2 hours. Your respiratory rate may start to slow down, making clear thinking difficult.

Alcohol intoxication symptoms may emerge as soon as you take your first drink. It can inhibit sound decision-making, causing people to do things they would not do otherwise.

Slower reaction times, diminished reflexes, and changed perceptions of distance and speed can all ensue. These conditions can happen even if you don’t appear or feel drunk. 

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:

  • gender,
  • weight,
  • stress levels,
  • hunger,
  • level of alcohol consumption, and
  • medication intake.

Even if some persons appear normal after drinking alcohol, their ability to drive may already be impaired. Some people may feel unsteady or even faint after a few drinks. Before driving, it is best to have your blood alcohol level checked.

A BAC calculator and chart can help determine the quantity of alcohol you can drink before driving. These tools, however, may not be helpful for everyone because everyone reacts differently to alcohol. A certified alcohol breathalyzer is required to detect your BAC reliably.

Punishments for Drinking and Driving in West Virginia

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

An individual is regarded as driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor if their blood alcohol content is 0.08% or greater, as determined by a chemical test.

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

West Virginia DUI sanctions are described below.

First DUI Offense in WV

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

  • Jail Time: Maximum of six (6) months imprisonment
  • Fines: $100 to $500
  • License Suspension: Six (6) months of license revocation

Second DUI Offense in WV

An individual who commits a second DUI offense within ten (10) years may face the following punishment:

  • Jail Time: Six (6) to twelve (12) months in prison
  • Fines: $1,000 to $3,000
  • License Suspension: Ten-year license revocation

Third DUI Offense in WV

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

  • Jail Time: Up to five (5) years of imprisonment
  • Fines: $3,000 to $5,000
  • License Suspension: Lifetime revocation of license

Motor Vehicle Alcohol Test and Lock Program

Offenders who participate in the Motor Vehicle Alcohol Test and Lock Program and use an ignition interlock device (IID) may be eligible for a shorter revocation period.

Before being eligible for reinstatement, offenders must complete the required substance misuse evaluation, educational courses, and prescribed treatment.

Implied Consent Laws in West Virginia

According to West Virginia’s “implied consent” regulations, all motorists must comply with a blood or breath test if lawfully apprehended for driving under the influence—drivers who resist testing risk having their license revoked in the following period.

  • First Refusal: One-year license suspension
  • Second Refusal: Ten-year license suspension
  • Third Refusal: Lifetime revocation

Offenders must file a refusal hearing request within 30 days of their initial appearance. 

When Can You Drink and Drive in West 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 below can help you figure out the quantity of alcohol you can drink before driving in West Virginia.

Although the following information was based on studies, bear in mind that everyone’s reaction to alcohol is unique. As a result, the recommended estimated amount of alcohol mentioned below may not apply to everyone.

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

How much beer can you drink and drive in West Virginia

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

A 12-ounce (350 ml) beer can be consumed by a 160-pound male (72 kilos) with a blood alcohol level of 0.02%.

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

This diagram depicts 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 West Virginia?

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

As shown in the sample above, a 160-pound man can have a BAC of 0.02% after ingesting one glass of wine.

A woman with the same weight and who consumes the same amount of alcohol could have a BAC of 0.03%.

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

If you have to drive after drinking, one to two glasses of wine should be enough.

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

Distilled spirits like vodka and whiskey have an ABV of 40%.

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

In contrast, a woman with the same weight and alcohol intake amount could have a BAC of 0.03%.

As previously stated, if other factors are present, it can cause BAC levels to increase.

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

Sticking to DUI Laws in West Virginia

Driving high or intoxicated is extremely dangerous. If intoxicated, you may lose control of yourself and your vehicle. All drivers should be aware of the risks of drunk driving and take every precaution to avoid it. 

Even if you only drank a few bottles or glasses of alcohol, your blood alcohol content (BAC) and driving abilities should not be underestimated. Instead of driving, consider other ways of transportation.

If you need to drive after drinking, make sure that your driving ability is not impaired. To test your blood alcohol level, we recommend utilizing a certified alcohol breathalyzer.

Visiting the state’s official website is essential to stay updated on West 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.