Driving under the influence is a crime that is taken extremely seriously in Virginia. Under Virginia law, a person can be charged with driving while intoxicated—more commonly known as a DWI or DUI—if the person has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher, or if the person is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs regardless of whether the person objectively has a BAC over the legal limit. Even a first offense can result in a class 1 misdemeanor conviction, a fine of up to $2,500, and a one-year suspension of your driver’s license. Those penalties are even higher for a first conviction when a person has a BAC at or above 0.15 percent.
Given the seriousness of DUI charges and convictions in Virginia, it is extremely important to ensure that you do everything necessary to build a strong defense if you are stopped for driving while intoxicated. The following is a list of five things you should always do if you are stopped for a DUI.
Pull Your Car Over If You Are Being Stopped
It might seem obvious, but if you are being signaled to pull over by a law enforcement official, you should pull over to the side of the road. In other words, do not attempt to evade the police car. Rather, slow down, and as soon as the side of the road looks like it is safe to pull over, do so. As soon as you notice that you are being stopped, you should turn on your turn signal to indicate to the law enforcement officer that you are cooperating.
Understand Your Rights Concerning BAC Tests and the Consequences of Refusing a Test
Under Virginia’s implied consent law, a driver is required by law to take a blood or breath test if that driver is arrested for driving while intoxicated. You can, however, refuse to take a breath or blood test. But if you refuse, it is important to know that you can face legal consequences. Under Virginia law, a first-offense, the legal consequence is a one-year suspension of your driver’s license. For a second offense, the consequence is a three-year suspension of your driver’s license. Typically your refusal can also be used as evidence against you.
It should be noted, however, that penalty for refusal depends on the circumstances of the test. To be sure, refusing a preliminary breath test (PBT) administered at the side of the road will lead to no consequences, while refusing one performed at the station carries with it the aforementioned civil penalties.
Remain As Calm As Possible
Remaining calm is important, even if you are arrested. Once you are arrested, you can seek help from a lawyer, and you can begin building a defense for your case. Behaving angrily or erratically usually will only complicate your case, and it is possible that the arresting officer can cite your behavior as evidence that you are or were intoxicated.
Avoid Answering Questions About Your Drinking
You have the right not to answer questions you are asked about your drinking. For example, the police officer who stops you might ask, “how much alcohol have you had to drink tonight?” In most cases, it is better to remain silent than to answer a question like this, especially if you have consumed some alcohol. The police officer can use the information you provide during this questioning as evidence to help with a conviction in your case. It might seem awkward, but it is typically better to avoid answering questions that require your opinion until you have spoken with a Virginia DUI defense attorney.
Hire a Fairfax, Virginia DUI Lawyer
Anytime you are stopped for a DUI and arrested, you should immediately get in touch with an experienced Virginia DUI defense attorney who can help to build a strong defense in your case.
Contact a DUI Defense Attorney in Fairfax