When you are facing charges for drunk driving in Virginia, it is extremely important to begin working with an experienced Virginia DUI defense attorney who can develop a defense strategy for your case. Depending upon the specific facts of your case, there are a wide variety of potential defenses that your attorney can use to help you beat the charges you are facing. You should remember that even a first-time DUI conviction in Virginia can have serious consequences. Under Virginia law (Code of Va. § 18.2-266) a DUI or DWI is a class 1 misdemeanor that can carries a penalty of up to a $2,500 fine, a suspension of driver’s license for 12 months, and up to 1 year in jail.
To be clear, you want to do everything you can to avoid a DUI or DWI conviction in Virginia. The following are potential defenses that we may be able to use in your case.
Under the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures, law enforcement officials must have reasonable and articulable suspicion to believe an offense is being committed to stop a person. If you were stopped because of a DUI and later were required to take a breathalyzer test or another type of test to determine your BAC, your entire case could be thrown out if the stop itself was unlawful. A criminal defense lawyer in Virginia can discuss your Fourth Amendment rights with you in more detail.
No Probable Cause to Arrest Under the Fourth Amendment
Under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, law enforcement officials must have probable cause to believe a crime was committed in order to arrest an individual. This is a higher standard of suspicion than that needed to stop a vehicle for a suspected offense (that is, reasonable and articulable suspiciion that a crime is being committed). If there was no probable cause, your Fourth Amendment rights may have been violated, and we may be able to have the case dropped.
Improperly Administered Breathalyzer Test
If a breathalyzer test is administered improperly, the results may not be admissible in a Virginia court. The implied consent law in Virginia directs the courts to presume the result of a properly administered breath test is accurate, but sometimes the test is not administered correctly, and this can open the door to an argument that the test result is not accurate, and should be thrown out.
Rising Blood Alcohol
If you were stopped for a DUI shortly after drinking alcohol, and the police did not have you provide a breath or blood sample for a long period of time after you were driving, you may be able to use the defense of rising blood alcohol. In other words, your BAC might have been lower at the time you were driving than the level it reached when you breath was tested hours later.
Improperly Administered Field Sobriety Test
Law enforcement officers administer so called “field sobriety tests” in order to determine if a driver has consumed enough alcohol to cause them to be under the influence. Law enforcement officials need to be properly trained in conducting these tests. If a field sobriety test was not properly administered, it may help in convincing a judge that your case should be dismissed.
Defective Breathalyzer Machine
Breathalyzer machines, like other products, can be defective. We may be able to argue that the breathalyzer machine was not properly maintained, or was operating correctly and thus its results should not be accepted by the court.
Sometimes a person drives under the influence of intoxicating substances without intending to do so. If the intoxicating substance was not self-administered you may be able to use the defense of involuntary intoxication.
Medical Issue Caused You to Fail Field Sobriety Test
Sometimes field sobriety tests do not account for certain medical disorders or disabilities that could lead a person to fail the test. If you have a specific disorder or disability that could affect the results of a field sobriety test, we may be able to build a defense in your case based on this information.
Improperly Handled or Analyzed Blood Sample
There are many requirements regarding the handling and analyzing of blood samples, which are sometimes taken instead of administering a breath test. We can help analyze whether the procedures were followed correctly and, if not, challenge the admissibility of the results.
Insufficient Evidence of Being Intoxicated
Often times there may be some evidence that a person has consumed alcohol and driven a vehicle, but that does not mean that the person is intoxicated. The Commonwealth must present enough evidence that the judge (or jury) can conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is intoxicated. We can help marshal the evidence in your favor to show that you were not intoxicated at the time of driving a vehicle.
Contact a Fairfax DUI Defense Attorney
Do you need assistance fighting DUI or DWI charges in Virginia? One of our experienced Fairfax DUI defense lawyers can begin working with you on your case today. Facing criminal charges can be confusing and scary. You should know that our team of Virginia criminal defense attorneys has years of experience representing clients in DUI cases and can help to build a strong defense based on the facts of your case. Contact Whitestone Young, PC today for more information.