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DUI Criminal Offense

Driving under the influence criminal charges, and the administrative action that occurs after a DUI arrest in West Virginia, are very peculiar and far different than most other states. RLB II regularly...

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Drug Cases in West Virginia

West Virginia drug laws are also quite complex. There are no mandatory minimum sentences, but with the exploding drug problem throughout the United States in which West Virginia has not...

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Expungement of Records

West Virginia has very specific statutes on expungement of records, which provide that certain offenses, in particular felonies, can never be expunged, but misdemeanor arrests that...

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Frequently Asked Questions


What Information do I need to know concerning the DUI criminal offense and administrative action in West Virginia?

Driving under the influence criminal charges, and the administrative action that occurs after a DUI arrest in West Virginia, are very peculiar and far different than most other states. RLB II regularly attends national conferences concerning driving under the influence charges, and from his consultation with other state’s attorneys he has learned that West Virginia has some of the harshest criminal and administrative penalties. Those penalties include mandatory minimum jail sentences, and mandatory minimum revocation times for all cases resulting in convictions. Fortunately, in the past several years several types of alternatives sentencing programs have evolved such as home confinement and day reporting, which are now alternatives to the previous mandatory jail sentences. However, there is no such thing as probation upon a DUI offense in West Virginia, nor are there temporary driving privileges or work permits which are common in other states upon a DUI revocation.
The criminal and administrative statutes concerning West Virginia DUI law are found in Chapter 17C of the West Virginia Code. Article 5 covers the Criminal Offense, and Article 5A for Administrative Offenses proceedings. RLB II would recommend any individual charged with those offenses to attempt to read those statutes concerning the particular subsections that will apply to their case, but he would caution anyone who is not an attorney on trying to interpret these statutes due to their complexity, and due to several of the statutes and subsections which must be read in pari materia, which in Latin stands for the proposition that the statutes must be construed and read together to interpret their overall meaning. Our legislature periodically updates these statutes, and in fact multiple DUI criminal and administrative statutes were just amended in 2008, and became effective July of 2008, which created a new category of DUI Offense called aggravating circumstances, in which the minimum penalties were increased based upon the amount of blood alcohol in one’s system.
RLB II encourages all individuals charged with a DUI, or DUI revocation by the Department of Motor Vehicles, to seek counsel due to the sheer complexity of our laws in West Virginia. Quite often RLB II is contacted by individuals after they have attempted to represent themselves, and their lack of knowledge has produced an inadequate result, and must often that result cannot be overturned. For instance, once you are charged with a DUI the Department of Motor Vehicles will send to you an order of revocation by certified mail to the address on your license. If the individual refuses to sign for that certified mail, or has moved without changing his address officially with the DMV, then they will be revoked and they have no appeal rights. Thus, ignoring certified mail from the DMV is ineffective, and also does not advise the individual when they are revoked and for what period. Additionally, if the individual accepts the letter then they have 30 days to file their appeal to retain their driving privileges during that time period of challenging that order. If not filed within 30 days then that order is final and cannot be challenged. Once again, RLB II encourages anyone charged with DUI offense in which the criminal conviction or the revocation of their license will cause them serious jeopardy concerning their future, loss of job, or other benefits, to seek counsel as soon as possible, since the delay in seeking representation can quite often produce results that even an experienced practitioner can not overcome.


What information do I need to know concerning drug cases in West Virginia?

West Virginia drug laws are also quite complex. There are no mandatory minimum sentences, but with the exploding drug problem throughout the United States in which West Virginia has not been immune, magistrates and sentencing judges are taking far harsher stances upon individuals convicted of drug offenses. There are special provisions for possession of marijuana less than 15 grams for a true 1st time offender that can result in not only in a dismissal but also expungement of the arrest. An expungement wipes out all records concerning an offense so that the individual can state that it never occurred. RLB II suggests any individual charged with even just possession of a controlled substance to consult with counsel to insure that they take full advantage of all statutes particularly in regards to the 1st time offenders, since he has been contacted by numerous individuals that simply entered a guilty plea and paid a fine on a minor possession of marijuana, whereas if they had been properly advised they could have obtained a dismissal and expungement of the case. Thus, in any type of drug case he highly suggests that an individual always consult with an attorney before taking any type of action on their own.


Can my records be expunged?

West Virginia has very specific statutes on expungement of records, which provide that certain offenses, in particular felonies, can never be expunged, but misdemeanor arrests that result in dismissal can be expunged under certain circumstances. There is however a new provision which provides a dismissal of certain misdemeanor convictions for individuals between the ages of 18 and 26, which is a newly enacted law just taken effect this July of 2008. The effect of the expungement is to wipe out the records so there is no indication that it ever occurred, and only a circuit court judge in West Virginia has the power to remove those records from not only magistrate court, circuit court, but also from police agencies, and from criminal reporting agencies maintained through computers by the West Virginia State Police and by the FBI. RLB II does not have standard charges for expungement, except for individuals that he represented in the underlying case sought to be expunged. However, a typical expungement petition for a case he did not participate in is $1,000, and there are court costs involved of approximately $150. RLB II will evaluate a possible expungement free of charge, and he rarely accepts representation in an expungement matter unless he is highly confident that it will result in a successful expungement order.
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