A Virginia DUI charge is a serious matter. DUI charges in Virginia can affect virtually every aspect of your life in some situations, from your employment to your personal relationships. There are ways that you can fight back against a Virginia DUI charge, and if you are charged in Fairfax, VA then a DUI defense attorney will likely be your best defense.
DUI defense attorneys use a variety of effective techniques and strategies to help build a solid defense in DUI cases. Every case is different, so what works for someone else might not work as well in your case. Presenting your defense will depend on your unique situation, criminal or traffic history, and a variety of other factors.
A Quick Overview of Virginia DUI and DWI Laws for the First Offense
Penalties for DUI or DWI vary depending on whether this is your first offense. For the first offense, you can be convicted of a Class 1 misdemeanor, which could mean up to a year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines. For DUI convictions, there is a mandatory fine of at least $250. Your blood alcohol content could also affect the total amount of fines or other penalties you receive as well.
First-time offenders will also lose their license for one year. You might be able to obtain a restricted license that allows you to drive to work and other specific locations, however. You will also be required to go through an alcohol safety action program, but there are some exceptions to this requirement. There are additional fees for this program as well.
Your insurance premiums will also likely increase as well because you will have to get FR-44-based insurance, which is for “high risk” drivers.
Fighting Back Against Your Virginia DUI Charge
Even though your situation may appear hopeless at first glance, there are ways that you can defend your DUI charge. Your attorney will be able to tell you specific defenses that might work for your unique situation. Many of these defenses fall into broad categories.
The Specifics of Your Arrest or Testing
Police officers are required to follow very specific protocols when making an arrest for a DUI. If they fail to follow even one of these requirements, then the arrest could be declared invalid. This includes any testing that the officer or an investigation team may have done, such as blood testing, breathalyzer, or urine sample testing. All of these tests have specific legal processes as well, and your attorney can determine if they were performed according to legal requirements.
For example, when the officer administers a breathalyzer test, he or she has to monitor you for at least 20 minutes before the test. This allows the officer to observe whether you have anything in your mouth or if you consumed anything in the 20 minutes prior to the test. The test-taker should not have anything in their mouth or burp in the 20 minutes before the test.
Problems With the Traffic Stop Itself
Under federal civil rights laws, an officer can only stop you if he or she had reasonable suspicion to do so. For a DUI, this could a variety of factors, including speeding, swerving, or driving erratically. It could even include something as simple has having a broken taillight. Regardless, the officer must have had some reason to stop you. Without this, the stop and everything that happened after the stop could be legally invalid. Keep in mind, however, that the reason for the stop does not have to be related to your DUI charge—it could be some other valid reason.
Failing to Test Blood Alcohol Content (“BAC”) in Time
In Virginia, a DUI charge is only permissible when an individual's blood alcohol content is at least 0.08 or above. To discover this information, a driver must actually be tested. That is why Virginia has an implied consent law. Under this law, every driver on the road automatically consents to have their blood, breath, or both tested for alcohol and/or drugs if the driver is arrested for a DUI.
However, this test must be given within three hours of the arrest. In some situations, the officers do not get the driver back to be tested fast enough to satisfy this requirement. This could be a valid defense in your Virginia DUI case.
Building Your Virginia DUI Defense With The Law Office of Wilfred W. Yeargan
An experienced DUI defense attorney might use any one of these defense strategies or a combination of several. There are many other creative defense options as well that might work better for your unique situation. Knowing the applicable law in detail is your best defense to a Virginia DUI charge. However, the average person likely does not know or understand these very detailed requirements for a DUI stop or arrest. To ensure the best possible outcome for your case please call The Law Office of Wilfred W. Yeargan, or send us a message online to set up a free confidential legal consultation.