DUI/DWI Lawyer in Fairfax, Virginia
If you are charged with a DUI, you may be under the mistaken belief that you have no other option than to accept whatever the government puts on the table, along with paying a large fine, attending a driver training courses and living with the fact that you will now have a DUI on your record. This is not true.
It is important to understand that you have certain legal rights that need to be respected and the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This is why it makes sense to retain the services of an experienced Fairfax DUI lawyer. There is a lot riding on the outcome of your DUI case. A conviction could result in your losing your job, losing your security clearance, or possibly prohibit you from finding new employment or housing. You’ll also be forced to pay much higher automobile insurance premiums since the conviction will be on your driving record.
What is Considered a DUI in Virginia?
Driving Under the Influence (DUI/DWI) is one of the most common criminal offenses in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The penalties associated with a conviction escalate dramatically with any subsequent violations. According to § 18.2-266 of the Code of Virginia, you can be charged with a DUI/DWI if you are found to be operating a vehicle on a highway with a blood alcohol content at or above .08 percent. In addition, according to § 18.2-270 of the Code of Virginia, a first DUI conviction means a mandatory driver’s license suspension, fines, and possible jail time, as well as a criminal record that could affect the rest of your life. If that was not bad enough, you will almost assuredly be looking at jail time if you have a second or subsequent DUI conviction.
What is the Difference Between DUI and DWI?
In Virginia, there is not much difference between Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). The terms are used interchangeably when discussing drunk driving and the statute and the punishment are the same.
However, the technical difference is that a DUI means that you were driving under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicant after having consumed enough of that substance to affect your manner, speech, muscular movement, disposition and general appearance. A DWI means that you were driving with a blood alcohol level higher than a 08. So, technically under Virginia law, you could be convicted of a DUI with an blood alcohol level of .06 or .07.
A Heavily Punished Crime – That is Why you Need a Lawyer
DUI/DWI is one of the most heavily punished, first offense misdemeanors in Virginia. The mandatory minimum fine is $250, a 12-month license suspension, a Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP) requirement. Most courts also impose jail time (active and/or suspended). Those convicted with elevated BAC levels, or with prior convictions, face mandatory jail, longer license suspensions, and ignition interlock requirements.
A Complicated Area With Many Potential Issues and Defenses
Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol (“DUI”) cases are some of the most complex cases in criminal law. They involve the following:
- Constitutional Issues;
- Scientific Evidence;
- Statutory Interpretation; and
- Changes in the Law from Year to Year
When you have a skilled and knowledgeable DUI attorney on your side, he/she will go to work investigating your case, looking at every possible angle of your case. For example:
- Did the officer have a valid reason to stop you?
- Did the officer have probable cause to make a lawful arrest?
- Were the field sobriety tests conducted properly?
- Was the breath test machine properly calibrated?
- If blood was drawn to ascertain the BAC or drugs, did the officer follow the proper procedures?
This is extremely important because if the officer committed a flagrant procedural violation, it could result in a dismissal of your case. For example, if the police officer who cited you did not have an appropriate reason to pull you over, if there were problems with how blood or breath tests were administered, or factors that may have produced a result in excess of 0.08, a lawyer can highlight these issues and take the steps necessary to either have your case dismissed or the charges reduced. It is important to know that, even if you cannot completely overcome a DUI charge, an experienced Fairfax DUI attorney can help negotiate on your behalf to try and get the charges or penalties reduced.
Ramifications of a DUI Conviction
The ramifications associated with a DUI conviction are quite serious and even life-altering. For example, if convicted, you will likely lose your driving privileges. If it is your first DUI conviction in Virginia, you will likely have your driver’s license suspended for at least one year. If this is your second or third DUI conviction, the length of the license suspension can be much longer.
In addition to losing your driver’s license, there are significant financial consequences associated with a DUI conviction. For example, not only is there a fine, but court costs, ASAP fees, interlock ignition fees – the financial costs can be high for a DUI conviction. This is on top of your auto insurance rates suddenly spiking. In fact, some insurance companies drop clients who are convicted of a DUI.
Another ramification from a DUI conviction is the risk of losing your job and being prevented from pursuing certain employment opportunities. If you are convicted of a DUI, it will remain on your record. As a result, when a prospective employer runs a background check on you, they can access to your driving record. If the employer takes note of your DUI conviction, they may decide to “go in another direction” and not hire you.
If you are charged with a DUI/DWI, have a lawyer on your side to guide you through the process.
Now is the Time for Action – Hire an Experienced Fairfax DUI Lawyer
If you are currently facing DUI charges in Virginia and are concerned about what the future may bring, you need to take action by contacting an experienced DUI lawyer. The laws and regulations concerning DUIs in Virginia are complex and difficult to navigate. A skilled and knowledgeable drunk driving lawyer can provide support and effective representation to ensure your legal rights are protected.
Our law firm is ready and able to help you with your DUI case, whether it is in Alexandria City, Arlington, Fairfax, Fairfax City, Falls Church City, Herndon, Leesburg, Manassas, Reston and/or Vienna.