Virginia DUI Laws Lawyer

Driving under the influence is a criminal offense and is charged with a class 1 misdemeanor. A conviction for DUI will have permanent implications for your future. When a person drives a vehicle intoxicated, it can bring harm not only to himself but also to others on the street. Law enforcement and the court take DUI charges gravely. So, if you have ever been charged with DUI, contact Virginia DUI lawyers at The Law Offices Of SRIS.P.C. They have lawyers who know the DUI laws very well and will try to find ways to get the DUI charges reduced or dismissed.

Blood Alcohol Content

The amount of BAC a person has while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is used to determine whether a person is driving under the influence. Those under the legal drinking age should have a BAC of less than 0.02%; otherwise, you can be charged with DUI. If the BAC is at 0.08% or more, the person is intoxicated and will be charged with DUI. Commercial drivers should only have less than half the normal legal limit of 0.04%; if not, they can be charged with DUI. A person with a BAC of 0.15% or higher will be charged for aggravated DUI.

What Are The Consequences Of Refusing The BAC Test?

If a police officer reasonably suspects that you are driving under the influence, the officer can pull you over and ask you to perform a BAC test. You should know that by getting a Virginia driver’s license, you have already given consent to the BAC test, including driving on public roads and highways. This law is known as implied consent law.

Although you can refuse to submit to the BAC test, you should consider the consequences. If you refuse the first time, your driver’s license will be suspended for a year without the possibility of a restricted license. A second-time refusal will result in you being charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor, and a third-time refusal will get you booked under a Class 1 misdemeanor. So, before refusing to take the BAC test, consider the consequences.

Field Sobriety Tests:

The police officers use field sobriety tests to determine if the person under investigation is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, these tests are not always accurate because of wrong instructions by the police, environmental issues, not observing the tests properly, or other issues. Because of this, many innocent people are charged with DUI.

In Virginia, field sobriety tests are not mandatory. If a law enforcement officer asks you to perform field sobriety tests, you can say “No.” For people who were arrested because of these tests, you can challenge the reliability of these tests with the help of a lawyer in court.

The standardized field sobriety tests in Virginia include:
  • One-Leg Stand (OLS) Test
  • Walk And Turn (WAT) Test
  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test
One-Leg Stand Test:

This test requires you to raise one leg six inches above the ground while keeping the other foot pointed out and counting numbers aloud until told to stop. The police will observe you, looking for clues that point toward DUI. The clues they are looking for include the following:

  • Hopping
  • Putting the foot down
  • Swaying while balancing
  • Using your arms to balance
Walk And Turn Test:

The walk-and-turn test requires nine heel-to-toe steps along a straight line. Then you will be asked to turn around and come back along the same line in the same manner while counting the steps aloud. The clues will include:

  • Starting too soon
  • Stopping while walking
  • Improper turn
  • Incorrect number of steps
  • Walking without touching heel to toe
  • Using arms to balance
  • Stepping off the line
  • Cannot keep the balance
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test

The horizontal gaze nystagmus test requires an officer to place a stimulus above your eye level and ask you to follow the stimulus with your eyes while not moving your head. The stimulus can be a pencil, flashlight, or finger. The clues the officer looks for include:

  • Lack of smooth pursuit following the stimulus
  • Involuntary movement of the eyes while looking sideways
Factors Affecting Field Sobriety Test Results
There are a lot of factors that can affect the results of a field sobriety test, including:
  • Environmental conditions: Field sobriety tests are conducted on the side of a road. The road’s surface can be uneven, distracting traffic, poor lighting, bad weather, and more can interfere with the results of FSTs.
  • Physical and medical conditions: Physical conditions like disability, old age, obesity, and medical issues like injuries, neurological issues, and more can affect the ability of a person to perform FSTs accurately.
  • Officers’ training and execution: To administer FSTs properly, the officers require extensive training and follow established protocols. If mistakes were made when conducting trials, like improper instructions, this could be used to undermine the reliability of the results.
Defenses Used Against Field Sobriety Tests

If you are charged with DUI due to the results of field sobriety tests, you can use the defenses available here to fight against the test results:

  • Excluding test results: If your lawyer proves that FSTs were affected by external factors or the officer lacked the necessary training, you can exclude the evidence. Without this evidence, you can easily reduce or dismiss the charges.
  • Questioning the tests accuracy: Your lawyer can challenge the accuracy of the test by conducting a thorough investigation of the circumstances by which the FST test was conducted, any deviations from procedures by the officer, or any potential bias.
  • Establishing alternative explanations: In some cases, physical condition, medications, or stress could have affected the defendant’s ability to perform the test. Your lawyer can use these as evidence against FST.
What Are the Defenses Against a DUI Charge?

Your DUI lawyer will ask you what happened from when you started drinking to the time of your arrest. They will investigate your criminal history, and based on the results, they will prepare a few defenses with the outcome in your favor. Each DUI case is unique, but some common defenses can be used for all DUI cases. They include:

  1. Illegal Traffic Stop:

By law, a police officer needs a reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle. If a police officer stops your vehicle without any reason, the evidence obtained will be invalid. Even if there is a reasonable suspicion, the police officer must follow specific procedures to pull you over and ask you to submit to a BAC test. If there were any mistakes in the procedures, you could use this as a defense against the DUI charge.

  1. Defendant Not Allowed to Contact Lawyer:

Once a person is arrested for DUI, they can contact their lawyer. If the law enforcement officer does not allow you to contact your lawyer, you can use this defense to dismiss the charges. The prosecutor will not be able to explain why the officers did not allow the suspect to contact their lawyer.

  1. Inaccuracy in Field Sobriety Test Results:

If a person has physical disabilities or health issues, they will have difficulty completing the field sobriety test even if they are sober. Various other factors, such as environmental issues, mistakes made by the officer, and more, can easily lead to the inaccuracy of a field sobriety test. By analyzing every aspect of the test, your lawyer can use these as evidence to reduce or dismiss the charges.

  1. No Evidence of Suspect Opening the Vehicle:

You do not have to worry about getting charged with DUI if you are just sitting in a vehicle drunk and not driving it. A police officer can only arrest you if you are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The law does not include taking shelter in the vehicle. If you are charged with DUI for this, your lawyer can justify that you were using the vehicle as a shelter until you are sober enough to drive the vehicle without any issues.

  1. Inaccuracy of BAC:

Sometimes, your BAC might appear high because of the breathalyzer issues. Your lawyer will consult with forensic toxicology experts about the breath test results. If the experts find any irregularity with the test, your lawyer will use the irregularity to defend against the DUI charge.

What Are the Steps to Be Taken After Getting Charged With DUI?

Being arrested for DUI comes with many troubles. If convicted, you could face penalties like imprisonment, fines, license suspension, and more. Here are the steps that should be taken immediately after getting arrested for DUI:

  1. Get a ride home:

After being arrested by the police for a DUI, the officer will bring you to the police station. You will be released if someone comes to pick you up, or you will be required to stay in the station until you are sober. Your car will most likely be in the police impound, so you should get a taxi and go home. 

  1. Remember your court date:

Before leaving the police station, you will be given a notice indicating the court trial date. Make sure you remember the date. If you forget the date and miss the hearing, the judge will issue a bench warrant. If you have any other things you can’t avoid on that date, like a work meeting, wedding, or anything else, you can file a motion for continuance. This means you are asking the court to move the hearing to another date. 

  1. Contact a Virginia DUI lawyer:

Contacting a Virginia DUI lawyer to represent you in court would be a good idea. The Law Offices of SRIS.P.C. have lawyers with experience in these cases. They will arrange a personalized team of lawyers for your case and look for all available methods to help you reduce or dismiss the DUI charge. 

  1. Learn about the consequences:

Conviction of a DUI will result in lifelong consequences. It is a criminal offense, and if convicted, you could be punished with one year of jail time, a fine of $2,500, and a suspension of your license for a year. It also has consequences like increased insurance rates, lower credit ratings, loss of security clearance, and more. You will also have a permanent criminal record. 

  1. Request for a DMV hearing:

If you don’t want your license to be suspended before the court hearing, you need to schedule a DMV hearing within ten days of the arrest. Based on the history of DUIs, the DMV will automatically suspend your driver’s license. For your first DUI, the license will be suspended for seven days, 60 days of license suspension for a second DUI, and license suspension until the trial date for a third DUI. So, call your lawyer and ask him to schedule a DMV hearing. 

  1. Prepare for your court appearance:

When appearing at the court, be prepared to answer any questions and think carefully before answering them. Any mistake or a slip of the tongue could potentially lead to the worst result. Depending on how you want to proceed with the hearing, the questions will differ entirely. If you plan on pleading guilty, there is little legwork required. If you plan on fighting the charges, you must prepare a lot with your attorney.

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