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Virginia DUI Law

If you have been arrested for drunk driving in the state of Virginia, it is natural to be frightened about the future and uncertain what to do next. Being arrested, processed and formally charged with a crime is a daunting experience; however, it is just the beginning of your dealings with the legal system.

The important thing to remember is you have options. In the United States, you have the right to a lawyer and a fair trial; you also are innocent until proven guilty. Being arrested for drunk driving does not mean you’ll be convicted; moreover, being convicted does not have to mean going to jail.

The key to protecting yourself after an arrest for impaired driving is to speak with a Virginia attorney who handles DUI defense. A lawyer can review your situation, explain your options, help you make informed choices, and assist you pursuing a favorable outcome.

A Virginia DUI Attorney can answer key questions about your case, including:

  • What could happen to me after an arrest for driving drunk in Virginia?
  • Should I plea bargain or fight my drunk driving charges?
  • What kinds of DUI defense options exist under Virginia law?
  • How can a lawyer help me with a DUI defense?

What Could Happen to Me after an Arrest for Driving Drunk in Virginia?

Virginia Law section 46.2-391.2 states that a driver who fails a blood alcohol content (BAC) test is going to have their driver’s license automatically suspended. The license suspension is an administrative suspension and it happens immediately. This means even if you don’t get convicted of drunk driving, you could be prohibited to drive. You have the right to fight against this and should have an attorney help you do so.

In addition to the administrative suspension, you could face a court trial to determine if you are guilty of drunk driving. If you are found guilty and it is your first offense, your license could be revoked for a year and you’ll be fined at least $250. For a second offense, the minimum fine goes up to $500 and you could face a possible jail term of up to a year.

Third-time offenders, those with kids in the car, and those with high BACs above 0.15 percent also face more serious penalties. The Virginia DMV provides a comprehensive summary of the potential jail time, fines and license suspensions you could face if convicted under varying circumstances.

Should I Plea Bargain or Fight My Drunk Driving Charges?

With the potential to lose your license, go to jail, and have a criminal record: the stakes are high. You need to decide whether to admit guilt and try to plea bargain down to a lesser offense, or whether to go to court and hope you don’t get convicted.

A prosecutor has the burden of proving you drove drunk, so you don’t necessarily have to prove you were innocent. If a prosecutor cannot show that you were driving above the legal limit, then a jury shouldn’t find you guilty. A Virginia DUI defense attorney can evaluate the facts and circumstances of your case and help you decide on how to best proceed.

Prosecutors also have discretion as to whether they want to negotiate a plea deal with you or not. Your attorney can handle speaking with the prosecutor and explore programs that may provide alternatives to criminal conviction.

What Kinds of DUI Defenses Exist in Virginia?

To defend yourself against a drunk driving charge, you can argue that your constitutional rights were violated. If you were pulled over or had your blood alcohol content checked without probable cause, this could be a violation of the Fourth Amendment. This would mean any evidence collected illegally will be kept out of court. Without evidence, a prosecutor cannot prove a case and the charges should either be dropped or you should be found not guilty.

Other possible ways to defend a DUI charge in Virginia include:

  • A rising BAC defense: You can argue that your blood alcohol content was below the limit when you were driving but rose above the limit before you were tested. Your BAC does continue to go up for a period of time after you stop drinking, but this defense tends to work best if you were very close to the limit and if there was a time gap between when you were driving and when you were tested.
  • A faulty breathalyzer defense: Breathalyzers are machines that may not always work perfectly. There have been reported cases of DUI convictions being overturned because of breath-test problems. Even in Washington, D.C., some DWI convictions were thrown out when it became apparent that at least eight of the police department’s 10 Intoxilyzer devices were defective. You can present witness testimony showing problems with the breath test, with its administration, or with calibration of the machine.

These are just a few of many possible defenses in a drunk driving case that goes to court in Virginia.

How Can a Lawyer Help With DUI Defense in Virginia?

Accused of DUI in Virginia? Don’t let the prosecutor hold all the cards. Let the Wilson Law Firm help you understand Virginia DUI Law and fight for your rights. Call today for a consultation!


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