Standard DUI Penalties For First Offense:
For a first offense, Virginia DUI penalties are still considerably harsh. DUI convictions will always include a probationary period for one year, completion of alcohol treatment classes provided by ASAP, a fine that tends to run between $250-$500, loss of license for 12 months, jail incarceration (with some or all of that time suspended), and installation of an ignition interlock device if the defendant applies for a restricted driver’s license.
DUI Penalties With a Prior DUI Conviction
A prior DUI conviction will have serious implications on any subsequent offense. In general, a prior DUI conviction will be used to increase your DUI from a misdemeanor to a felony if it is a third or subsequent offense within 10 years, impose higher penalties for your new offense, and potentially implicate the mandatory sentencing requirements for your new conviction.
What is Virginia’s Implied Consent Law?
You may have heard or read about Virginia’s “implied consent law,” without really understanding what it refers to. In Virginia, if you drive a vehicle on a public highway (which is any publicly accessible road), you are assumed to have impliedly consented to a blood or breath test is performed if you are ever arrested for a DUI. Consequently, you can and likely will be punished with another charge if you refuse to submit to take these sobriety tests. Virginia Code Section 18.2-268.3 makes it illegal to “unreasonably refuse” to have samples of your blood or breath taken for chemical analysis to determine the alcohol or drug content after a drunk driving arrest has occurred.
While a first refusal crime is considered a civil, rather than a criminal offense, the penalties are still severe. The refusal charge requires a 1-year driver’s license suspension. A 2nd or 3rd refusal causes the offense to be treated as a criminal matter, and can often result in jail time.
What Happens When A Person Is Charged With DUI?
If you are charged, it will probably be for a violation of Virginia Code § 18.2-266. When this happens, you are going to want an aggressive and affordable Fairfax DUI lawyer to help you obtain the best possible outcome. Sometimes, the situation may require your Fairfax DUI lawyer to negotiate a lower charge, while on other occasions, taking the matter to trial and aggressively attacking holes in the prosecution’s case might be the best approach. Indeed, field sobriety tests do not always prove that someone is over the legal limit and breathalyzers are not always completely accurate. Suffice to say, there are quite a few defenses that your Fairfax DUI lawyer can assert on your behalf.
After being charged, you will be ordered to show up to Fairfax County General District Court. This initial court appearance is known as an arraignment. At the arraignment, you will be expected to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Before this date even arrives, it is extremely important that you speak with an aggressive and affordable Fairfax DUI lawyer to obtain as much evidence as possible (such as breathalyzer results and police reports) and to begin negotiations with the Commonwealth’s attorney.
Additionally, you may face a license suspension by the DMV. If this happens, things could begin to get messy – you may not be able to drive to work; pick up your kids, or get to important appointments. For this reason, you will want qualified legal representation with the knowledge and ability to help you quickly obtain a restricted license. In order to obtain a restricted license, there are a lot of complicated procedures and guidelines which must be followed and several requirements which must be met. A qualified, knowledgeable Fairfax DUI lawyer can help.
How A Fairfax DUI Lawyer Can Fight For You
If you have been arrested or charged with DUI, speak to a Fairfax DUI attorney about your case. Many attorneys (myself included) offer free consultations and can provide you with greater insight into what defenses you may have.
What Are The Defenses to DUI?
- Mouth Alcohol Defense
- Rising BAC Defense
- Breathalyzer Inaccuracy Defense
- Field Sobriety Tests Do Not Always Prove Impairment
- Alcohol and Drugs are NOT the Only Causes of Bad Driving
What Happens Before a DUI Arrest?
The Commonwealth must prove that your blood alcohol level (“BAC”) was above .08 at the time you were driving or that you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Before a police officer event stops you, they will almost always follow behind your car to obtain a visual observation of impairment. To be sure, all that is needed for a police officer to initiate a traffic stop on suspicion of DUI is observing you touching or crossing over a line while driving.
After effectuating the traffic stop, the officer will walk up to your window. When the officer does this, they are looking for evidence of alcohol consumption, an odor of alcohol, bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, impaired or slurred speech, and much more. Based on your driving pattern, or any of the signs previously mentioned, the officer may then choose to conduct a formal DUI investigation.
What Happens Once an Officer Asks You to Exit Your Vehicle?
When an officer asks you to exit your vehicle, they will be paying close attention to your balance. The officer will then ask you to perform a number of field sobriety tests. You can politely refuse to perform these tests – and it is probably in your best interest to do so. The officer will then ask for you to blow into a breathalyzer – more formally known as a Preliminary Alcohol Screening device. You are entitled to refuse this test as well. However, as a Fairfax DUI lawyer, it is my duty to inform you that refusing to take a breathalyzer test could result in your license being suspended for one year – even if you are found not guilty in court. With that said, it may be possible for your Fairfax DUI lawyer to help you obtain a restricted license.
After blowing into the PAS, an officer must determine whether enough evidence exists to establish probable cause that you are DUI. But if you refuse to take any field sobriety or PAS tests, it can be difficult to prove that there was probable cause for an arrest. Absent probable cause, the case could very well be thrown out – even if later-performed chemical tests yield readings which establish that you were above the legal limit.
If you did perform the PAS test, and you were above the legal limit, it could be the result of what many believe to be an inherent flaw in PAS methodology. Generally, most people provide a PAS test a little while after being pulled over. But the human body takes roughly 2 hours to process alcohol. Thus, if you blew a .09 thirty minutes after you were pulled over, it could very well mean that you had a blood alcohol level of .06 at the time you were driving – which would mean that, at the time you were pulled over, you would not have been over the legal limit. This is one of the many situations where a good Fairfax DUI lawyer could be of assistance.
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