As anyone who has one knows, it can be hard to qualify for a concealed handgun permit in Virginia. Similarly, it’s incredibly easy to lose your permit due to a criminal conviction.
A variety of charges can actually disqualify you from holding a concealed handgun license in Virginia. This includes driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI), even if you weren’t carrying at the time of your arrest.
In this article, we’ll talk about how a DUI can disqualify you from applying for a concealed carry permit. We’ll also go over how you can lose your existing permit due to a DUI conviction.
Concealed Handgun Permit Basics
In Virginia, it is illegal to carry
However, the law makes certain exemptions for a number of people and circumstances. These exemptions can include carrying a weapon:
- In one’s home or place of business.
- In a secure container while on the way to a shooting range, gun store, or similar location.
- While legally hunting.
- While acting in the capacity of a police officer or state attorney.
If you want to carry a concealed firearm outside of these specific circumstances, you need to apply for a concealed handgun permit.
Will a DUI Disqualify Me from Applying for a Concealed Handgun Permit?
Yes. Under Virginia law, you are not eligible for a concealed carry permit if you have been convicted of DUI within the past three years.
Further, the law makes no distinction between driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Either one will disqualify you for three years. This is true even if you were not carrying at the time of your arrest.
This is true even if the state of Virginia reinstates your rights following a felony conviction.
What if I was carrying at the time of my arrest?
Guns and alcohol don’t mix, and the Virginia Code includes several provisions for cases where someone is carrying a gun while intoxicated.
According to Virginia Code § 18.2-308.012, if you’re convicted of a DUI while carrying a firearm, this act alone constitutes a Class 1 misdemeanor.
As an extension of this fact, the Code also states that if you were carrying a concealed firearm (with a permit) at the time of your DUI arrest, you will be barred from applying for a new permit for five years.
The same applies to
Can I Lose My Concealed Handgun Permit Because of a DUI Conviction?
Yes. According to Virginia Code § 18.2-308.013, if you are convicted of an offense that would disqualify you from applying for a concealed handgun permit, you must surrender your permit to the court.
If you are then arrested with a concealed firearm at a later date (i.e. without a permit), you will be charged with illegally concealing a weapon.
This means that if you are convicted of DUI in Virginia, you must surrender your permit to the court.
However, remember that you may apply for a new permit in three to five years, depending on the circumstances of your arrest.
What happens if I was convicted of DUI in another state?
The exact wording of Virginia’s concealed carry law makes the question of an out-of-state conviction a little complicated.
Essentially, you will lose your permit if the law under which you were convicted is “substantially similar” to Virginia’s DUI law. However, the meaning of “substantially similar” is not always obvious.
For example, in Wisconsin, first-offense DUI is not even a crime. Instead, it’s a civil infraction, similar to (but a bit more serious than) a parking ticket.
Would this law this “substantially similar” to Virginia’s DUI law?
The answer to complicated questions like these can vary depending on the circumstances, as well as the law you were actually charged under. For this reason, it’s important to consult an experienced and knowledgeable Virginia DUI lawyer as soon as possible after your arrest in another state.
While they can’t defend you from the DUI charge in the other state, they can advise you about how you should proceed with the legal side of things in Virginia.
When Can I Apply for a New Concealed Handgun Permit after a DUI?
Normally, you may apply for a new concealed handgun permit three to five years after a misdemeanor DUI conviction. If a judge accepts your application, the state will grant you a new permit that expires in five years.
Remember to fill out your permit application completely, including DUI convictions in other states. Failing to do so can result in your permit being revoked, which can lead to charges for illegally carrying a concealed weapon.
You should also remember that, as noted above, individuals charged with felony DUI can never legally conceal a firearm, as per federal law.
What do I do if the court rejects my application?
In some cases, the court may reject your application. If this happens, the court clerk must provide a written explanation of the court’s reason for rejecting your application.
You then have 21 days to request an oral hearing (also called an “ore tenus” hearing) so that you can contest the court’s reasoning.
Even if this oral hearing fails, you can still submit a petition to Virginia’s Court of Appeals. In most cases, you will have 60 days after your oral hearing to do so.
Remember, filing for an appeal is a complex process that can take a significant amount of time and money to complete. Always consult your lawyer before beginning the appeals process.
There are a few key takeaways you should remember about Virginia’s DUI laws and concealed handgun permits:
- In virtually all cases, a DUI conviction will mean losing your concealed carry permit for between three and five years.
- A felony DUI conviction will bar you from legally owning any firearm.
- If you were carrying a concealed weapon at the time of your DUI arrest, you may face harsher penalties.
- All of the points above are true even if you are arrested for DUI in another state, as long as the charges are “substantially similar” to Virginia’s own DUI laws.
- To fight the charges against you, you should get in touch with a Virginia DUI lawyer as soon as possible after your arrest.