A DUI lawyer Fairfax VA Trusts Explains Driving Under the Influence Charges
In some states, the charges of DUI and DWI might represent different laws altogether. In other circumstances, the terms might be used interchangeably. In Virginia, the terms DUI and DWI are just two of several different theories of impaired driving that fall under one single law. Virginia Code §18.2-266. If you or someone you care about find themselves charged under this law, contact May Law LLP in Fairfax VA and speak to a top DUI lawyer.
If you are arrested for drunk driving, Virginia law creates an obligation that you submit to a chemical analysis under the law of Implied Consent. Virginia Code §18.2-268.2. Typically, that is in the form of a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) breath test. Virginia law then applies an inference of alcohol impairment at a BAC level of 0.08% or more. Virginia Code §18.2-269. This type of a case would generally be referred to as DWI. The prosecution’s case would rest largely on the BAC number itself and a conviction would rely heavily on the weight given by the inference of impairment within the law. A DUI lawyer in Fairfax VA understands the law related to this chemical evidence and can use that knowledge to help you mount a defense.
But what about a situation where a suspect is physically unable to submit to a BAC test or perhaps refuses to submit to such a test after arrest? In many cases this results in a secondary allegation called Refusal to Submit to Chemical Analysis, Virginia Code §18.2-268.3. Even if you are unable or unwilling to submit to the test, the prosecution can still pursue a drunk driving conviction under Virginia Code §18.2-266(ii). This is what is commonly referred to in Virginia as DUI.
Here, the court would consider a full range of evidence – including driving behavior, interaction with police, admissions, roadside field sobriety tests – to determine whether an accused was impaired by alcohol. As opposed to a straight DWI prosecution based on a BAC level, evidence in a DUI prosecution is subjective by nature, far more nuanced, and lends itself to skillful argument. An experienced DUI lawyer can help you navigate these complexities, analyze possible issues, create a strong trial strategy, and get the best result possible.
This version of drunk driving in Virginia is no more or less serious that DWI. Both are Class 1 misdemeanors and carry the same potential punishment. For first time offenders that means fines up to $2,500, up to one year in the county jail, 12 months suspension of driver’s license, and one year of ASAP probation. There are situations where the punishment can even be more severe -for example, where there is evidence of a BAC level of 0.15% or more, or a record of prior drunk driving conviction. In these situations, a DUI lawyer may be able to attack validity of the BAC results depending upon a variety of factors. A lower BAC impacts fines, jail time and other aspects of the case.
A top DUI lawyer understands the ramification a DUI conviction can have on your career and on your family. We have the experience and expertise to help you with the complex and specialized issues related to DUI law. We will work with you through every step of the process from information gathering, analyzing evidence, building a strong defense, plea bargain negotiation, and fighting for you at trial. If you are in need of a trusted DUI lawyer in Fairfax VA, contact us at May Law LLP and arrange a free consultation.
Don’t Risk a Felony: Hire a Lawyer
A driving under the influence (DUI) charge should never be taken lightly. If you were recently charged with a DUI of any kind and do not yet have quality legal representation, please connect with an experienced Fairfax, VA DUI lawyer immediately. It’s important to hire legal representation as early on in the judicial process as possible to reduce the likelihood that you might self-incriminate yourself during questioning.
If You Were Charged with a Misdemeanor DUI
If you have been charged with “only” misdemeanor DUI, this is not an occasion to let your guard down. The fact is, your misdemeanor may be escalated by the prosecutor to a felony DUI. Such escalations primarily occur when there are extenuating circumstances. Without an experienced Fairfax, VA DUI lawyer by your side to advocate on your behalf with the prosecutor and judge, if any of the following are true, you will remain particularly vulnerable to a felony charge:
- You have one or more previous convictions for DUI.
- You injured someone while you were DUI.
- You killed someone while you were DUI.
- You exhibited reckless behavior while DUI. Common examples include road rage, weaving in and out of traffic or between lanes, driving off road, or driving through a crowd of pedestrians.
- Your blood alcohol content (BAC) was substantially higher than the maximum amount of BAC allowed by law when driving.
If You Were Charged with a Felony DUI
It is all the more urgent to contact a Fairfax, VA DUI lawyer if you have been charged with a felony. A felony DUI conviction can substantially disrupt your life in many ways and can do so far into the future. Every case is different, and a Fairfax, VA DUI lawyer will examine yours closely to determine if and how law enforcement overstepped their legal bounds in any way as grounds for a dismissal of your charge. When a dismissal is not possible, a Fairfax, VA DUI lawyer may be able to negotiate a plea bargain for a lesser charge.
The Possible Consequences of a Felony DUI Conviction
As mentioned, every case is different and that is because of the many possible variables involved. For instance, do you have a prior record for DUI? Did you injure anyone while DUI? These are just some of the aspects of your case that must be considered when you meet with an experienced Fairfax, Virginia DUI lawyer. Without the assistance of a skilled DUI lawyer from May Law, LLP, you will remain vulnerable and may have your life forever altered by any of the following penalties upon a felony conviction:
- Prison time.
- Significant fines in the many thousands of dollars.
- Required participation in drug or alcohol counseling.
- Loss of driving privileges.
- Difficulty in getting a good job or safe housing.
When Should I Accept a Plea Deal?
Not every criminal case goes to trial. If you have ever watched a legal drama on television, then you are probably aware that a significant number of cases end in a plea bargain instead of by a jury verdict. A plea bargain is an agreement between the defendant and the prosecution that settles the case.
Here is what usually happens: The defendant is charged with a crime. The prosecution offers a reduced sentence (punishment) or to drop some of the charges if the defendant agrees to plead guilty or “no contest.” If the defendant agrees, there is a plea agreement. It is important to speak with an experienced DUI lawyer Fairfax VA if you are a facing a criminal charge. The dedicated team at May Law LLP can help guide you through a trial or potential plea bargain while keeping your best interests in mind.
There are two types of pleas:
- Guilty: the defendant admits to committing a certain crime.
- No Contest: the defendant neither admits nor denies guilt but accepts the punishment. A defendant might accept this plea if there is enough evidence against him to convict but he does not want to admit any wrongdoing.
A Fairfax VA DUI lawyer from our firm is prepared to mount an effective defense at trial. However, it is important that you understand that you have options. If the prosecution offers you a plea bargain, here are five questions you should ask your DUI lawyer:
- Can I withdraw my plea after I have made the agreement?
Yes. You may take back the plea and elect to go to trial at any time before sentencing.
- Is there any other way to get out of a plea agreement?
Once the court announces your sentence the only option you have is to file an appeal. You can either argue that your sentence is too harsh or that you did not understand what you were agreeing to/you were coerced into accepting the deal. It is important to work with a trusted DUI lawyer to ensure that you fully understand the plea agreement and that it is entirely your decision if you should choose to accept or decline.
- If I don’t accept the plea bargain and then I lose at trial, is it too late to accept the plea?
Yes. Furthermore, you could be given the maximum sentence for your crime. That said, our team of Fairfax VA DUI lawyers can help you determine whether going to trial or accepting a plea deal is in your best interest.
- If the plea agreement is between the prosecution and me, does the judge have to accept it?
No. However, it is likely that the judge will go along with the prosecution’s deal. The possibility that the judge might order a different sentence is something an experienced DUI lawyer from can help you prepare for.
- Do I have any options if the judge gives me a harsher sentence than what is in my plea deal?
Yes. You may file an appeal. If the appellate judge agrees that your punishment is too severe then your case will be remanded to the trial judge, who will have to reduce your sentence.
Have You Been Charged?
Contact May Law LLP today for a consultation if you have been charged with drunk driving and are facing criminal prosecution. Our DUI lawyer Fairfax VA clients recommend can assist in building your defense and obtaining the best possible outcome based on the circumstances of your case.
What Can I Expect from a Court-Ordered Substance Abuse Evaluation?
The penalties associated with being charged and/or convicted of a DUI or DWI tend to vary. States have unique laws related to this specific kind of infraction. Penalties may also vary based on the severity of the offense and as a result of whether an individual is a first-time or repeat offender. Sometimes, a court will order someone who has been charged with a DUI or DWI to undergo a substance abuse evaluation. This order may or may not accompany an otherwise reduced sentence or may serve as a way to avoid conviction altogether.
For some, this kind of evaluation is valuable and eventually inspires relief that they are receiving some necessary assistance. For others, such an evaluation is insulting and frustrating. Regardless of how it is perceived, it is important that those individuals ordered by the court to submit to such an evaluation comply with the terms of the order. Failure to do so could lead to severe criminal consequences. If you have been ordered to undergo such an evaluation, do not ignore it. If you have questions, please contact an experienced Fairfax, Virginia DUI lawyer who can speak with you about your circumstances and legal options.
Court-Ordered Substance Abuse Evaluations – The Basics
Most of the time, a substance abuse evaluation may not be performed by “just anyone.” An agency certified with the state must complete the evaluation. With that said, an agency’s methods, assessment protocol and corresponding treatments may vary. It is partially for this reason that you and your Fairfax, VA DUI lawyer should conduct research into the agency that best fits your needs before committing to a specific assessment.
The goal of a substance abuse evaluation is to determine whether the individual being assessed is being affected by a substance abuse condition and to what extent that condition is affecting the individual’s life and wellbeing. In general, this assessment will be followed up by the creation of a treatment plan designed to address any significant findings by the evaluator. The findings may or may not impact an individual’s sentence in the event of a DUI or DWI conviction.
Legal Guidance Is Available
If you have recently been charged with a DUI or DWI and are concerned about the potential consequences of your situation, please do not hesitate to connect with an experienced Fairfax, VA DUI lawyer from May Law, LLP today. It may be possible to mitigate any potential consequences before your situation resolves. Similarly, if you have been convicted of a DUI or DWI and have questions about how this conviction will affect you moving forward, please consider speaking with a Fairfax, VA DUI lawyer.
Too often, individuals only seek legal guidance when they are in the middle of a legal crisis. Educating yourself about your situation so that you can minimize the impact that a conviction may have on your life is critically important – and is a step that too few individuals choose to take. Our firm has worked with individuals impacted by DUI charges for years and years. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have and to explore any legal options that may be available to you. Please consider scheduling a consultation today. We look forward to speaking with you.