Colonial Heights DUI Lawyer

Driving under the influence, or DUI is many people’s first and only exposure to Virginia’s criminal justice system. Despite a DUI being a crime that people without any criminal history are liable to commit, prosecutors take these cases extremely seriously.

While everyone knows that DUI can result from drinking too much and then driving, it also applies to instances where a person’s ability to drive is affected by other drugs and foreign substances. A conviction under Virginia’s DUI laws can result in stiff fines, a loss of license, jail time, and a criminal record.

Colonial Heights DUI lawyers represent individuals in their fights against DUI charges. A capable criminal defense attorney can understand the stress and emotional toll that these charges can place on people and fight to protect their rights and freedoms.

Virginia’s DUI Laws

DUI in Virginia is defined in VA Code 18.2-266 as the operation of any motor vehicle while a person has a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or above. Alternatively, a person may be guilty if their ability to drive has been diminished by alcohol, illicit drugs, or even prescription drugs. Following this definition, there are two ways by which a prosecutor can prove that a person was driving under the influence. The most common way is through evidence provided by a blood or breath test. All police officers are permitted by law to conduct a breath test once they suspect that a person is driving under the influence.

Once an arrest is made, the officer also has the ability to take the arrested person to a hospital to provide a blood sample. All drivers, merely by being on the road, consent to these tests. While a person can refuse to submit to the tests, this in and of itself is illegal and will result in a loss of license for one year. Since these tests provide the most accurate evidence of an alleged DUI violation, most officers will request a test if they have reason to believe that a person is driving drunk.

The other method to prove the case is through an officer’s observations. The prosecutor can win the case by merely proving that the defendant’s ability to drive was impaired by alcohol or drugs. Police officers may use field sobriety tests, in combination with physical observations of the suspect, to make this case. However, people are never required to submit to field sobriety tests.

Potential Penalties for DUI Conviction

A conviction for DUI carries a variety of potential penalties as a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Any conviction for DUI, even a first conviction, carries a mandatory license suspension for a period of one year under VA Code 18.2-271. A second conviction results in a three-year suspension, while a third conviction revokes a license entirely.

In addition to a loss of driving privileges, a minimum fine of $250 will be levied with a maximum fine of $2,500 possible. While the statute does not require any jail term, a Class 1 Misdemeanor does allow for imprisonment of up to 1 year upon conviction. However, if the defendant is found guilty with a blood alcohol level above 0.15, there is a minimum 5-day jail term. This term increases to 10 days if the blood alcohol level is above 0.20. A qualified Colonial Heights DUI lawyer can help mitigate the penalties that an individual may face.

How a Colonial Heights DUI Attorney Can Help

A Colonial Heights DUI lawyer can employ multiple strategies for defending you against charges of DUI. They can examine the officer’s reports for the reasons why the stop was made, to begin with. An officer requires reasonable suspicion to make a traffic stop and they must clearly state what this is in their reports.

If the stop was made illegally, all further evidence may be invalid. The attorney can also examine any blood or alcohol test results for errors in the equipment or test procedures. If the Commonwealth’s case is based on an officer’s observations of the defendant’s physical state, they can cross-examine the officer at trial to discredit their testimony.

The potential consequences for a DUI conviction are harsh. With mandatory fines, a one-year loss of license, and a permanent criminal record the consequences of even the lowest level of DUI, the stakes are high. Take a strong step towards protecting your rights and contact a lawyer today.