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What Are the West Virginia DUI Laws?

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious criminal offense and carries heavy penalties in West Virginia. DUI laws, also referred to as DWI (driving while intoxicated) in some states, make it a crime to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or  drugs. This article provides a brief overview of West Virginia's DUI laws.

Code Section

West Virginia Code section 17C-5-2: Driving Under the Influence or Alcohol, Controlled Substances, or Drugs

What's Prohibited?

Driving a vehicle in West Virginia while he or she:
  • Is under the influence of alcohol
  • Is under the influence of any controlled substance
  • Is under the influence of any other drug
  • Is under the combined influence of alcohol and any controlled substance or any other drug, or
  • Has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher


The penalty for driving under the influence varies depending on whether or not the violation causes the death or injury of another party. DUI penalties in West Virginia vary from a felony offense to a misdemeanor.
  • The maximum penalty for a felony offense is imprisonment for between two and 10 years and by a fine of between $1,000 and $3,000.

Aggravating Circumstances

The penalty for driving under the influence increases if certain aggravating circumstances are present. For example:

  • If the driver's blood alcohol concentration is 0.15 of higher
  • If a habitual user of narcotics or amphetamines commits a DUI offense

DUI Offenders Who Are Under 21

Because the legal drinking age in West Virginia is 21 years old, the DUI law for younger offenders in the state is slightly different. Any person who is under 21 years old and who drives a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of between 0.02% and 0.08% is guilty of a misdemeanor for a first offense. In some circumstances these offenders will be given the opportunity to participate in the Motor Vehicle Alcohol Test and Lock Program for the opportunity to expunge the DUI from their record.

Additional Resources

State laws change frequently. For case specific information regarding West Virginia's DUI laws contact a local DUI lawyer.

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Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?

  • Complex DUI situations usually require a lawyer
  • DUI defense attorneys can challenge Breathalyzer/Intoxilyzer or blood test results
  • A lawyer can seek to reduce or eliminate DUI penalties
  • A lawyer can help get your license back

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