Fairfax DUI lawyer

Under state law, a driver is guilty of DUI if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is higher than 0.08% while operating a motor vehicle or watercraft. A driver may also be found guilty of a DUI for being under the influence of drugs while driving. Whether or not you’re found guilty in court, a DUI charge can be extremely costly. If found guilty of a DUI, you could face fines and costs totaling thousands of dollars, risk losing your license, and end up in jail. dui driver is guilty If you’ve been charged with DUI, it is essential to work with a local, experienced Fairfax criminal defense lawyer to ensure that your rights and livelihood are protected. Attorneys from Select Law Partners PLLC have helped many clients facing DUI charges achieve the best possible outcome in their case. Call (855) 541-4867 to schedule your case evaluation.

What to say when you’re arrested for DUI

If you’ve been arrested for a DUI, the most effective thing to say, outside of stating that you would like to invoke your right to a lawyer, is nothing. You’ve likely heard the phrase, “you have the right to remain silent. Anything that you say may be used against you in court,” and that is all true. Simply stating that you would like to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible, then refusing to answer anything further, is the best way to protect yourself. Connect with an experienced DUI lawyer as soon as possible – it’s vital to your case.

The traffic stop

When a driver is pulled over by the police when a DUI is suspected, police officers are required to follow a specific order of actions. When the traffic stop is initiated, that order officially begins.  The officer begins by explaining to the driver why they were pulled over and why the driver’s actions were against the law. An officer will note that they observed the driver engaging in an activity that could indicate intoxication. Examples of this include driving in the wrong lane, weaving through traffic, breaking the speed limit, or violating other traffic laws. dui lawyer traffic stop In Fairfax, police officers may pull over a driver for any valid reason, discover during the traffic stop that they suspect the driver is intoxicated, and then begin their investigation for a DUI.  After providing an explanation for the traffic stop, the police will ask the driver some questions. Generally, one of the first questions will be whether or not the driver has been drinking or using drugs. While asking questions, the officer will be looking for other signs of intoxication, such as:
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Nystagmus (or the involuntary, rapid, and repetitive movement of the eyes)
  • Slurred speech
  • Smell of alcohol
  • Visible liquor or wine bottles, beer cans, etc.
If the officer detects any of these things, their investigation will continue and intensify with additional questions and requests that you engage in field sobriety tests.

Field sobriety tests

Fairfax police officers are expected to complete field sobriety tests (“FSTs”) on individuals who are under suspicion of a DUI so that they can collect further evidence in support of their investigation. The three field sobriety tests you are most likely to encounter are:
  • Walk-and-turn 
  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus 
  • One-leg stand 
The walk-and-turn requires that the individual walk a certain number of steps in a straight line, then turn around in a specified manner and take additional steps. Even physically fit unintoxicated individuals might find it difficult to walk in a straight line and turn around without appearing imbalanced at some point, individuals who don’t engage in much physical activity might find it impossible. dui persons with physical handicapsPersons with physical handicaps may fail the walk-and-turn and appear intoxicated simply due to their disability.  The one-leg stand is another FST, which requires a person to stand on one leg for a period of time. Completing this test requires that both legs function well enough to provide the balance, physical coordination, muscle power, and endurance to stand on one leg for however long the officer requires it. Sober individuals, including the officer conducting the FSTs, might find it difficult to stand on one leg for any amount of time. The horizontal gaze nystagmus is considered to be the most accurate field sobriety test, and involves the officer shining a light and requiring that you follow the light with only your eyes.  Police must follow specific steps for this test to be considered in court, and the attorneys at Select Law Partners PLLC are sometimes able to prove that these steps aren’t properly followed.  Even when law enforcement officers find that you have failed one or more FST, your attorney may be able to successfully challenge the result of the test or tests.

You could face consequences for refusing a chemical test

Different types of chemical tests that officers can use to determine whether or not a driver is actually intoxicated include tests of breath, blood, or urine. The breathalyzer test, which is used to measure the amount of alcohol present in the breath of the driver, is the chemical test you’re most likely to encounter. Under Virginia Code Section 18.2-266, when the blood alcohol content (BAC) of a driver is determined to be 0.08% or higher through a breath test, the driver will be arrested. If the officer determines that the individual is intoxicated due to drugs or other intoxicating substances that cannot be measured through a breath test, the driver may also be arrested. While refusing a chemical test is within your rights, the state has established stringent penalties when a chemical test is unreasonably refused. This is because when you get a driver’s license in Virginia, you provide consent to a breath or blood test upon arrest for a DUI. dui lawyer breathalyzer If you refuse a breath or blood test, the state requires that the court suspend your license for a period of one year. Losing your ability to drive for an entire year can have far-reaching and costly complications in many areas of your life. 

Types of DUI and corresponding penalties

All DUI convictions in Fairfax are to be taken seriously, as they can lead to the suspension of your license, fines, and even jail time. The severity of the potential punishments highlight the importance of hiring an experienced DUI attorney. Your DUI attorney advocates for your best interests and ensures that you aren’t held accountable for charges that the Commonwealth cannot prove.

First offense DUI

The penalties for a 1st DUI include: 
  • A maximum fine of $2,500 
  • A maximum jail term of 1 year 
  • A minimum fine of $250 
  • If your BAC was over .15 but under .20, at least 5 days in jail 
  • If your BAC is over 0.20%, at least 10 days in jail 
  • A 7-day administrative license suspension 
  • A 12-month license suspension through the court 
  • Required installation of an Ignition Interlock device
  • Required attendance at Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program ( “VASAP” or “ASAP”) classes 

Second DUI in 10 years

When a second DUI was received within 5-10 years of the first, the driver may face: 
  • A maximum fine of $2,500, a mandatory minimum of $500
  • A jail sentence of 1 month to 1 year, with at least 10 days mandatory in jail 
  • An additional 10 days in jail for BACs over 0.15%
  • 20 additional days in jail for a BAC over 0.20%
  • Restricted license eligibility after 4 months 
  • An ignition interlock will be required between 6 months to 3 years 
  • A 3-year license suspension by the DMV 

Second DUI in 5 years

If you received a second DUI within 5 years of the first, you may face: 
  • A maximum fine of $2,500, with a minimum fine of $500
  • A minimum loss of your freedom for 20 days in jail 
  • 10 additional days in jail if your BAC was over 0.15%
  • 20 additional days in jail for BACs over 0.20%
  • You are eligible for a restricted license after 1 year 
  • An ignition interlock is required for a minimum of 6 months 

DUI with bodily injury

When a DUI involves injuries, the circumstances are much more serious and the consequences that result can be even more substantial and impactful on your life. If you cause a fatality while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, your DUI charge could also include involuntary manslaughter or a charge of aggravated vehicular manslaughter.  The penalties associated with these charges include the loss of your right to vote, the forfeiture of your vehicle, and up to 20 years in prison. You will also have a felony charge that will stay on your record and will be impossible to hide from potential employers and others in the future.

DUI with controlled substances

When a driver is found to be impaired and a chemical test verifies the presence of drugs present in their system, they can be charged with a DUI. A DUI of drugs can include driving under the influence of prescription pills, marijuana, cocaine, and even over-the-counter medications.  dui lawyer drug test Working with an experienced attorney who understands how to scrutinize the evidence against you helps ensure that the Commonwealth is not pushing forward on a DUI charge that they don’t have sufficient evidence to prove. An effective DUI lawyer can challenge the charges against you, potentially leading to getting them being dropped or dismissed altogether.  The first offense for DUI with drugs is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which can be punished by up to 1 year in jail, a fine up to $2,500, and a license suspension for 1 year. DUI with drugs offenders who have a prior DUI conviction may encounter increased penalties as with second DUIs. 

Possible defenses for DUI charges

When you face criminal charges for any supposed offense, the prosecutor must prove the case against you beyond a reasonable doubt. When the prosecutor cannot prove each and every element of a DUI beyond a reasonable doubt, then the judge or jury in the case should find the defendant “not guilty.” Your Fairfax criminal defense lawyer has two primary ways of challenging the evidence against you in a case in criminal court: the filing of pretrial motions to exclude improperly obtained evidence from trial, and by presenting your case to a judge or jury.  In some situations, when your DUI defense lawyer is able to successfully exclude certain evidence from the case, the prosecutor will drop the case before ever going to trial. Achieving a beneficial result requires asserting defenses against the crime, including the following time-tested strategies that we’ve used to help our clients successfully challenge DUI charges. 

Unlawful traffic stop

The police must have a lawful reason for pulling over individuals, generally held to the standard of “reasonable articulable suspicion,” or “RAS.” RAS is a much lower standard than beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that more people are charged with DUIs than will be convicted of them, simply because the standard required for a stop or an arrest is much lower than is required for a court conviction.  For a traffic stop to be lawful, the police must have a suspicion that they can clearly communicate for them to suspect that you were breaking the law in some way. When the police don’t have RAS that’s sufficient under the law to make a traffic stop, then any evidence that is collected from the illegal stop could potentially be suppressed. 

Illegal search and seizure

Your rights under the U.S. Constitution do not go away simply because the police had probable cause to make a traffic stop. Your rights under the Fourth Amendment protect you against unreasonable searches and seizures conducted by agents of the government, including the police. Before searching your vehicle, the police must have probable cause to believe that there is some evidence of illegal activity in your vehicle. Generally, their search will be limited to those areas linked to their suspicion, and any other evidence collected may be suppressed. 

Why you need a DUI defense attorney

Virginia DUI law is complex, and applying it to the unique facts and circumstances of your case will determine the outcome. Your experienced DUI attorney will scrutinize the prosecutor’s case, the police report, and other evidence to find the best path forward in your case. 

An attorney can help you keep your license

While there are a variety of penalties concerning the loss of your license, or the requirement of a costly and inconvenient ignition interlock system, your attorney may be able to help you keep your license or reduce the impact of its suspension. 

An attorney can minimize lifelong penalties and stigma related to DUI

A DUI charge or conviction can follow you for the rest of your life. By working with an experienced attorney capable of minimizing the charges against you, the long-term impact and stigma you face in the future concerning your DUI will be minimized. 

Arrested for DUI in Fairfax? Don’t panic – Call Select Law Partners PLLC.

Our firm has years of experience helping clients charged with DUIs in Fairfax protect their rights and achieve the best possible outcome given the facts of their case. To explore how we can help, schedule a consultation or call us today at (855) 541-4867.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

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