DUI Defense Attorney in Fairfax, Virginia
If you have been arrested and charged with DUI in Virginia, you may have many questions, especially if this is your first offense and/or first time involved with the criminal justice system. It is important to understand the charges you are facing and the potential penalties if you are convicted. It is also important to begin building a defense to these charges right away. This is why anyone charged with driving under the influence offense should meet with a DUI defense attorney Fairfax VA clients recommend right away.
What Is Required in a DUI Arrest?
In Virginia, just as in all of the states in the U.S., any person who is 21 years of age or older and is driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher can be charged with a DUI. However, it is not just having alcohol in their system that can result in a driver arrested for DUI. A driver can also be charged if they are intoxicated by any drugs that are found in their system. Keep in mind, however, that the BAC standard is even lower for any driver who is under the legal drinking age of 21. Under Virginia’s zero-tolerance policy, the driver must have a BAC of 0.0 or can be charged with DUI.
A person convicted of DUI will automatically have their license suspended because of mandator sentences required by state law. The amount of time the license is suspended depends on the person’s past history and if they have prior DUI convictions.
Even if a driver is found not guilty of DUI, if they refused to submit to chemical testing when stopped by police, they will likely face a mandatory loss of license under the state’s implied consent law. Under this law, any person who accepts a driver’s license agrees that they will submit to chemical testing when requested by police and that they understand failure to comply results in driving privileges being suspended.
The penalty a person receives after they have been convicted depends on several circumstances, including any prior convictions. In addition to loss of license, additional penalties include court costs, fines, probation, jail, or a combination of any of these options.
The court may take several factors into consideration when handing down a sentence to a convicted driver. Ideally, a DUI defense attorney Fairfax VA residents trust will be able to defend against these charges, however, in some situations, the evidence is too overwhelming. A skilled attorney may be able to work with the prosecutor to have the charges downgraded and/or convince the judge that extenuating circumstances warrant a more lenient sentence.
Implied Consent Law
Virginia law says that any driver who has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more is over the legal limit and is considered driving under the influence. Determining a driver’s BAC can be done through breathalyzers, blood tests, and urine tests.
Under the Code of Virginia § 18.2-268.2., any driver who operates a vehicle on Virginia roads consents to have samples of their blood and/or breath taken for chemical testing to determine the alcohol and/or drug content of their blood if they are arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. This testing must be completed within three hours of being stopped by police. The law not only applies to drivers licensed in Virginia but also applies to out-of-state drivers, as well.
If a driver is arrested and refuses to submit to testing, they will automatically have their license suspended. The length of that suspension depends on if and how many prior offenses the driver has. A first-time offense will result in a license suspension of one year. Instead of a criminal offense, this offense is considered a traffic violation. Second and subsequent offenses that occur during a 10-year window will lose their license for three years. These offenses are classified as criminal offenses. In some cases, there can even be jail time ordered. A DUI lawyer Fairfax VA residents trust can evaluate your case to determine what type of penalties you may be facing.
If you are stopped on suspicion of drunk driving, it is important to keep in mind that these mandatory tests only apply if you are arrested. If an officer pulls you over and asks you to take a preliminary breath test, you do have the right to decline if you have not been placed under arrest. Implied consent laws only apply to drivers who have already been charged.
Other tests an officer may request of a driver suspected of being under the influence are field sobriety tests, such as the one-leg stand and walk-and-turn tests. These tests are considered extremely unreliable by defense attorneys because the results of these tests are based almost entirely on the police officer’s judgment. It is advised that a driver refuse all requests for field sobriety tests. There is no penalty for refusing and it avoids providing a prosecutor with potential evidence against you.
Let Our Defense Firm Help
If you have been charged with DUI, contact May Law, LLP right away to meet with a seasoned Fairfax VA DUI defense attorney. We will schedule a free and confidential consultation and discuss what legal options you may have.