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West Virginia DUI Laws

The state of West Virginia is working hard to reduce the number of driving under the influence (DUI) arrests and related traffic fatalities it experiences annually. The last few years have seen West Virginia enact tougher laws around DUIs.

Understanding these laws and the potential penalties for breaking them is essential to staying safe and on the right side of the law.

FindLaw explains West Virginia's DUI laws below.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits and Implied Consent

"Per Se" BAC Limit 0.08%
Zero Tolerance (Underage) BAC Limit 0.02%
Enhanced Penalty (Aggravated) BAC Limit 0.15%
Implied Consent to Submit to BAC Test? Yes

Select Penalties

Minimum License Suspension or Revocation (1st, 2nd, 3rd offense) Six months, 10 years, Lifetime
Mandatory Alcohol Education, or Assessment and Treatment Both
Vehicle Confiscation Possible? No
Ignition Interlock Device Possible? Yes

Disclaimer: State laws can change through legislative, judicial, or other means. While FindLaw works hard to ensure the accuracy of its legal resources, it's a good idea to check with an attorney to ensure you have the most recent information.

West Virginia's DUI Laws Explained

It is illegal in West Virginia to drive a vehicle when you are in an impaired state. An impaired state is when an individual is under the influence of:

  • Alcohol
  • A controlled substance
  • Any drug or inhalant
  • Or a combination of these

You are also in an impaired state if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or more or 0.04% if operating a commercial vehicle.

Per Se DUI Offense

per se DUI offense only needs a valid chemical test showing your alcohol level is at or above the legal limit of 0.08% or more to prosecute you. The police officer does not need evidence of your impairment beyond the chemical test result. You may not have been driving erratically, slurring your words, or smelling of alcohol. An evidentiary breath or urine test proving your BAC is all the evidence necessary.

Implied Consent

When you drive in West Virginia, the state deems you to have given consent to preliminary breath testing and chemical tests to determine intoxication when law enforcement suspects you of DUI. This is West Virginia's implied consent law.

West Virginia's implied consent law applies to the preliminary breath test and field sobriety tests. Law enforcement will request further chemical tests after your arrest. Chemical tests can include an evidentiary breath test or a blood test.

These tests confirm the amount of alcohol in your system and look for other intoxicating substances. You may refuse these tests, but law enforcement can arrest you and get a warrant to compel your cooperation.

Once an officer asks you to submit to a blood test, you will have 15 minutes to change your mind should you refuse. Refusing chemical tests after your arrest carries penalties. Your driver's license suspension for at least 45 days with participation in the Motor Vehicle Alcohol Test and Lock Program or a one-year suspension period without participation. You may request a hearing within 30 days to challenge this suspension.

A second refusal will suspend your driving privileges for 10 years. A third will result in a permanent license revocation.

Felony DUI

The recent enaction of Liam's Law makes it a felony DUI charge if you cause the death of another person, including an embryo or fetus, while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If convicted, you face 15 years in prison, up to a $3,000 fine, and a 10-year driver's license suspension.

A DUI that causes serious bodily injury to another, including an embryo or fetus, will earn you two to 10 years in jail. You will face a fine of up to $3,000 and a five-year license suspension.

A third DUI and subsequent offenses are also felony charges.

Aggravating Factors

Aggravating factors can enhance your DUI and potential penalties. Aggravating factors include:

  • Having a BAC of 0.15% or greater
  • Transporting a minor under the age of 16
  • Being a known habitual user of narcotics or amphetamines
  • Causing bodily injury to another
  • Having prior DUI convictions

Knowingly Permit Charge

Law enforcement may charge you if you knowingly permit an intoxicated person or someone who is a habitual narcotic or amphetamine user to drive your vehicle while they're impaired. This is a misdemeanor. Conviction carries a possible jail sentence of up to six months, a $500 fine, and a six-month driver's license suspension.

DUI Penalties

A DUI conviction carries heavy penalties. Part of your case is in the judicial system, and the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) handles your driver's license suspension. While the criminal court orders your license suspension, the DMV manages your suspension.

Criminal Penalties

Penalties for a DUI conviction increase depending on multiple factors. If you have aggravating factors, your penalties will be more severe.

For a DUI with no aggravating factors and you are at least 21, your sentence can include:




Jail Time

License Suspension

First Offense



Up to six months

Six months

Second Offense



Six to one year

10 years

Third Offense



One to three years

Lifetime Revocation

Deferred Adjudication

A first-offense DUI may be eligible for West Virginia's deferred adjudication program. You do not qualify for the program if you were a commercial driver when you received your DUI or if you have any prior DUIs in any state.

If you wish to participate in the deferral program, you must notify the court within 30 days of your arrest. Once the court accepts your application, you must enter a guilty plea. The judge will stay any finding of guilt and place you on probation. Then, you will enroll and complete the Motor Vehicle Alcohol Test and Lock Program. You have one year to complete the requirements of the program.

If you fail to complete the Motor Vehicle Alcohol Test and Lock Program or the DMV removes you from the program, the court may enter your guilty plea. You are convicted and face sentencing.

Successfully complete the program, and the court will dismiss your charge. You are only eligible for deferred adjudication once within your lifetime.

Driver's License Suspensions

Anyone suspended due to a DUI arrest or conviction must complete the West Virginia Safety and Treatment Program before the DMV will reinstate your license.

Participants will attend 18 hours of DUI education courses and undergo a substance use assessment. If the assessment finds you need treatment, you may need to complete a substance abuse program as well. The DMV oversees the program.

Motor Vehicle Alcohol Test and Lock Program

The Motor Vehicle Alcohol Test and Lock Program (Program) aims to reduce recidivism.

You will undergo regular drug tests as part of the program. You must review all your medications and any new prescriptions you receive with your case manager.

The program requires that you complete a substance abuse educational program if you have not yet completed one.

You must install and maintain an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle. An IID is a small electronic gadget that connects to your ignition. When you want to drive, you must provide a breath sample into the IID. The IID has a camera to verify that you are taking the test. If the IID detects any amount of alcohol, your car will not start. The IID will prompt you for additional tests while you drive to ensure you aren't drinking.

The DMV requires an IID installed for:

  • First DUI with BAC under 0.15%: 125 days
  • BAC of 0.15% or more: 270 days
  • First implied consent refusal: one year

Any violations of the program on the IID will extend your IID use requirement.

Zero Tolerance for Underage DUI

Underage drinking is hazardous. Teenagers are more likely to drink and drive. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers.

West Virginia has enacted a zero-tolerance law for underage DUIs. You face a misdemeanor charge if caught with a BAC of 0.02% or more. Conviction will earn you a fine of up to $100 and a 60-day driver's license suspension. A second conviction will see you in jail for at least 24 hours.

If your BAC is 0.08% or greater, you will face an adult DUI charge and penalties.

West Virginia DUI Resources

Get Legal Help With Your DUI Charges in West Virginia

If you're charged with a DUI in West Virginia, understanding your rights and legal options can be difficult. The consequences are high. A conviction can carry jail sentences and other serious penalties. An experienced attorney can evaluate your DUI and give you valuable legal advice. Contact a West Virginia DUI defense attorney today and get peace of mind.

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