Petersburg DUI Lawyer
Driving under the influence of either alcohol (DWI) or drugs (DUI) [Virginia Criminal Code Section 18.2-266] in Petersburg, Virginia is a serious and possibly life-changing offense that can have an detrimental impact on your family and employment. For this reason, individuals facing these charges may want to consider retaining or consulting with a Petersburg DUI lawyer. Here is information on reckless driving charges in Petersburg.
A Petersburg DUI Lawyer Can Help With These Charges
A driver may be charged with driving under the influence if:
- The driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is equal to or greater than 0.08%
- The officer believes and reports that the driver seemed to be under the influence of substances to an extent that the ability to control a motor vehicle is impaired
- The officer believes the driver is under the influence of drugs, and a chemical test comes back positive for certain substances
- The driver is a minor with alcohol and/or drugs in his or her system (a BAC of 0.02 or great is sufficient)
Upon arrest, a suspect’s driver’s’ license is immediately suspended, at least until they appear in court to answer the charges. If they wish to request an interim restricted license, suspects must appear before the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). A Petersburg DUI lawyer can help defend you against criminal charges in addition to DMV hearings.
Vehicles are also subject to impoundment for 30 days if a DUI suspect is found to be driving with a suspended driver’s license. They can also be taken and stored at a police lot immediately, and for another 90 days upon conviction [Section 46.2-301(A)]. During this period, storage fees accumulate, and they must be paid (in addition to the towing charges) when violators arrive at the lot before they can claim their vehicle.
Roadside Tests and Blood Tests in Petersburg, VA
Police officers must have probable cause to stop a suspect. It cannot be done unless there is some sort of driving behavior that leads an officer to reasonably suspect the driver of driving under the influence.
The officer will ask the driver to take a series of roadside Standard Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs). Suspects can decline to take these tests, but if they fail any or all of them, the officer will arrest them on suspicion of DUI.
A blood alcohol [Section 18.2-267] or blood chemical [Section 18.2-268.1] test is administered once the suspect arrives at the police station. It is usually taken with a breathalyzer. Suspects may also decline to submit to this test,but they will lose their driver’s license for a year [Section 18.2-268.3]. This statutory suspension prohibits the suspect from requesting a restricted license for their suspension period.
Although BAC tests are strong evidence against suspects, they can be effectively challenged by a seasoned Petersburg DUI lawyer. This can happen if the tests weren’t properly administered, the evidence wasn’t properly maintained through the chain of custody, or if it can be proven that the officer did not have probable cause to stop the suspect.
Penalties Depend on the Number of DUI Convictions
Recently, a new sentencing schedule for DUI/DWI became law. The following factors now determine the degree of the penalty:
- The suspect’s BAC level
- The number of previous convictions
- Whether there were any minors in the vehicle when the suspect was arrested.
The penalty for first-time DUI violation can be up to 12 months in jail. A second (or subsequent) conviction invokes mandatory minimum jail sentences and minimum fines that begin at $500 and could be as high as $1,000 [Section 18.2-270].
Those convicted of DUI will be ordered to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle once their license is returned to them [Section 18.2-270.1].The minimum amount of time that this device must remain on the vehicle is dependent on the BAC at the time of the offense. There is also a new penalty for underage DWI. It is a minimum $500fine, a one-year license suspension, and 50 hours of community service [Section 18.2-266.1].
Your Appearance at Petersburg Court
All trials for intoxicated driving are held in the Petersburg General District Court (for the 11th Judicial District of Virginia). The court is located at 35 East Tabb Street, across Adams from the Centre Hill Mansion in downtown Petersburg.