Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Apr 30, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • All drivers over the age of 21 who have been drinking and choose to drive have the potential to be stopped by West Virginia law enforcement officers
  • Refusing a chemical test has its own penalties
  • The penalties and fines subsequently increase with each DUI conviction
  • At any time, their insurance companies can send the cancellation notice one they have discovered that their client has received a DUI

It has come to the attention of law enforcement agencies in West Virginia that the numbers of DUI arrests are increasing. In 2010, police officers arrested 7,657 people for DUI.

So far in 2011, there have already been 5,211 DUI arrests.

There’s enough time in the year to at least reach last year’s record, if not surpass it, with several holidays coming up. This has motivated West Virginia law enforcement officers to look for ways to lower these numbers.

Why is this important? Getting caught with a DUI can have a drastic impact on your car insurance rates. Having knowledge of the laws in the state can help get you the best car insurance coverage West Virginia.

You can compare your options for auto insurance with our FREE ZIP code search tool at the top of this page!

Table of Contents

The Serious Consequences of Driving While Drunk

Just this last month has shown the need to crack down on people who choose to drink before they drive.

A homeowner in West Virginia had the unfortunate circumstance of having his home as well as his car involved in a collision with a drunken driver even though he never left the house. The drunk driver drove into the house and managed to have his vehicle flip over and land on the homeowner’s car.

Another drunken driving accident ended with the death of the driver. He ran into a light pole.

These incidences among others are the reason that law enforcement agencies plan to have even more checkpoints than they ordinarily do.

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Laws against Driving Under the Influence in West Virginia

Understanding your state’s DUI laws is critical to ensuring you make good choices and don’t find yourself in trouble with the law.

  • All drivers over the age of 21 who have been drinking and choose to drive have the potential to be stopped by West Virginia law enforcement officers.
  • If this happens and they are found to have alcohol in their system that is equal to or greater than .08 percent, they will be arrested at that moment on the driving under the influence (DUI) charge.
  • If a company driver is pulled over and is found with a BAC of .04 they can be arrested and subsequently convicted of a DUI.
  • Drivers under the age of 21 are not allowed to drive after they have been drinking.
  • When these drivers are stopped by law enforcement, the chemical tests only need to show that they have a .02 percent blood alcohol content (BAC) to be arrested and then convicted of DUI.

Refusing the Chemical Test Doesn’t Help

West Virginia drivers who refuse the chemical test aren’t doing themselves any favors. This action won’t keep them from being convicted of DUI. It won’t even keep them from being subjected to serious consequences.

Refusing a chemical test has its own penalties which are:

  • For the first refusal, their drivers’ licenses will be revoked for at least one year.
  • For the second and further refusals, penalties will be the same if not greater than a conviction for DUI.

Progression for Convictions

The First Conviction

After being convicted of DUI for the first offense, West Virginia drivers receive a jail sentence. The jail term will be a maximum of six months; if their BACs were .15 or higher, the sentence will be between two days and six months.

If they were transporting someone under the age of 16, their sentences will be between two days and 12 months.

These drivers will be ordered by the judge to pay a fine for this crime. The fine can be between $100 and $500. With a BAC .15 or higher, the fine increases to between $100 and $1,000.

Those who were driving with a minor under the age of 16 have fines between $200 and $1,000 to pay.

Everyone will have their licenses suspended for 15 days unless they were found to have a BAC of .15 or higher. In that case, the suspension will last for 45 days.

Everyone will also be susceptible to be required to install the Ignition Interlock Device (IID).

The Second Conviction

After a second conviction, the differences between offenders no longer will be accentuated. Everyone receives the same jail sentence of at least six months to one year.

They all have to pay the same fine that will be between $1,000 and $3,000 and they all have their licenses suspended for three years. The IID is no longer just a possibility; it’s required for everyone who has the desire of driving again.

The Third Conviction

The third conviction is now a felony offense. This offense requires that offenders serve at least one year or as long as three years in jail. Their fines are now between $3,000 and $5,000 with a one-year suspension of their licenses.

When they qualify to drive again, they will be required to re-install the IID.

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Drivers Arrested for DUI Who Are Under 21

For the first offense, West Virginia drivers under 21 receive the following penalties:

  • Fines between $25 and $100
  • License revocation for two months

If West Virginia drivers under age 21 have any detectable when they take a BAC and they are being arrested for the second time for DUI, their penalties will be:

  • At least a 24-hour jail sentence
  • A fine between $100 and $500
  • License revoked until age 21

How Car Insurance Is Affected by DUI in West Virginia

After being arrested for DUI, drivers often expect their rates to be raised. This won’t necessarily be the case in West Virginia because they aren’t required to have the SR-22 form.

The SR-22 filing is a red flag for auto insurance companies, and it signals that the driver has been arrested for DUI. When auto insurance companies find this out, they are then allowed to raise their clients’ rates, sometimes as much as four times higher than they were before.

Due to local DUI laws for car insurance, West Virginia drivers arrested for DUI don’t have to have the SR 22, so their insurance companies aren’t going to necessarily find out about the arrest or even the conviction if there is one.

The reason is because the courts don’t always tell the DMV that someone has been arrested or convicted of DUI.

Sometimes, the whole process happens too quickly for the insurance company to discover what is going on.

A first offense results in a 15 day suspension; any suspension under 30 days is likely to be missed by the insurance companies.

There’s also the possibility that these drivers will be arrested for DUI, but they will have their charges reduced to something lesser. If this happens, the insurance companies may never know about the DUI arrest.

In the event that a DUI arrest or conviction is missed, these West Virginia drivers don’t have to do anything. They will continue to have their liability coverage with the same auto insurance company, but they can’t breathe easily forever.

Car Insurance Companies Can Raise Rates Later

It has also been the case that auto insurance companies can find out later that a DUI has been added to their driving records. This would happen because auto insurance companies check their clients driving records every two to three years.

If this happens and they discover the DUI, they will then raise these clients rates to a level that represents the high-risk drivers that these clients are to them.

At any time, their insurance companies can send the cancellation notice one they have discovered that their client has received a DUI. If they don’t have high-risk policies, they won’t be able to continue providing a car insurance policy for these clients.

If they do have a high-risk division to move these clients to, they will, undoubtedly, do this while they are raising their clients’ rates considerably.

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Be Proactive By Seeking Quotes

West Virginia drivers don’t have to worry that at any minute they can receive a letter from their insurance companies canceling their insurance or raising their rates.

They can take action now to keep from losing their coverage or paying higher rates. They can seek quotes from other insurance companies that offer high-risk policies to those with a DUI on their records.

They can begin this search on our FREE comparison website today, and they will be presented with several desirable quotes for the best car insurance rates! Enter your ZIP code below now!