Richmond DUI Lawyer

Those who are arrested in Richmond, Virginia, for driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs can be charged with DUI (driving under the influence of either alcohol or drugs, or a combination of the two) [Virginia Criminal Code Section 18.2-266]. A local Richmond DUI lawyer can help you construct a defense to fight these charges.

Call today to schedule a free consultation and discuss your case with a Richmond criminal defense attorney.

How a Richmond DUI Lawyer Might Refute Evidence

Once an officer has probable cause to first stop you, then to arrest you on suspicion of DUI, you will be taken to the police station, where a BAC test will be administered. Most of the time, it’s a breathalyzer test, but under some circumstances, your blood could be drawn. You have the right to refuse any such test, but a penalty for refusal is immediate and involves the loss of your driver’s license for a year [Section 18.2-268.3]. Due to this statutory penalty, you may not apply to the DMV for a restricted license if convicted.

Even though BAC tests seem like strong evidence, they are not bulletproof. Defense attorneys have successfully had them thrown out on many grounds, such as procedural errors in conducting the test, improper maintenance of chain of custody of evidence, and breathalyzer device errors. Maybe the device was not properly calibrated, or an unqualified person operated the testing device. If you were administered a blood (or urine) test, the sample may have been mishandled or contaminated during storage. All evidentiary steps must be strictly followed by law enforcement. Otherwise, it can be effectively challenged by a Richmond DUI lawyer.

An attorney can also challenge the probative value of field sobriety tests, which are not necessarily good indicators of impairment, particularly if the officer does not administer the tests correctly.

DUI Charges in Richmond, VA

Lawyer VA Richmond DUI Individuals suspected of driving under the influence can be stopped on any street or thoroughfare, such as the I-95 Richmond/Petersburg turnpike. It’s not unusual to see DUI traffic stops anywhere along Broad Street, from downtown past Virginia Commonwealth University, due to the high concentration of entertainment venues. Any DUI or DWI charge can benefit from the scrutiny of a seasoned Richmond DUI lawyer.

The charges apply to any form of the offense if a substance causes physical or mental impairment, such as:

  • Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08 or above
  • In the opinion of the arresting officer, you are “under the influence of alcohol” that affects your ability to drive safely, even if your BAC is less than 0.08
  • You appear to be under the influence of any drug, in the opinion of the arresting officer, which is later confirmed by a blood chemical test
  • You are found to be under the influence of both drugs and alcohol

Your driver’s license is immediately suspended upon being charged, and you must petition the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for temporary (and sometimes restricted) reinstatement. Ignition interlock devices (IIDs) must be installed on your vehicle even on a first offense if you wish to obtain a restricted license to get to and from work and other requirements of day to day life. [Section 18.2-270.1].

Additionally, if you are on probation when you are charged with a DUI, the circumstances of your probation can be negatively impacted by this new charge.

Updated Penalties for DUI in Richmond

In January 2014, a new sentencing schedule for DUI/DWI convictions went into effect. Several factors determine your penalty. They include:

  • Your BAC level (you can now be convicted of DUI with a BAC of less than 0.08)
  • The number of previous “intoxication” convictions over a 15-year “look-back” period prior to the current charge, which could add more minimum jail time to your sentence
  • Whether there were any minors in the vehicle when you were arrested.

An individual’s first DUI is charged as a class 1 misdemeanor and carries a penalty of up to 12 months of jail time and/or a fine as high as $2,500.Richmond DUI Attorney in VA A statutory one-year license suspension is also included in your punishment. A second conviction produces a minimum fine of $500 and maximum $2,500, up to one year in jail (and a 20-to 40-day mandatory minimum sentence) and a three-year suspension of the convicted person’s driver’s license. A third brings a fine of between $1,000 and $2,500, a mandatory minimum jail sentence of six months (to a year), and indefinite license suspension [Section 18.2-270]. Additionally, a person may need to attend an educational or counseling program.

Minors (under age 21) who are convicted of DUI are subject to special statutes for a violation. They can be convicted of any DUI with a BAC as low as 0.02 percent [Section 18.2-266.1]). These underage DUI penalties can bring:

  • A fine of $500
  • A one-year driver’s license suspension
  • 50 hours of community service.
  • Adult penalties if the BAC is 0.08

How Do Drug DUI Offenses Work in Richmond?

Under state law, a person can be charged with DUI if a police officer determines that they are impaired to any extent by drugs. Under Va. Code §18.2-266(v), the following blood test results—measured by liter of blood—could constitute grounds for a DUI charge in the same way that a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher would:

  • 02 milligrams of cocaine
  • 1 milligrams of methamphetamine
  • 01 milliliters of PCP
  • 1 milligrams of MDMA

However, while some states have established “zero tolerance” laws that make it illegal to operate a motor vehicle with more than a specified amount of THC in their blood, Virginia is currently not one of them. In other words, there is no amount of THC per milliliter of blood that can automatically justify a DUI charge in Virginia. A police officer can still levy criminal charges against someone for driving while high if they believe they have probable cause to do so.

When Is a DUI Considered to Be “Aggravated”?

The term “aggravated DUI” is used colloquially within the criminal justice system but there is no such term explicitly defined in the Virginia Code. However, a person convicted of a first-offense DUI in Richmond will have to serve a mandatory minimum five-day jail sentence if their BAC at the time of arrest was equal to or greater than .15 percent. That mandatory minimum sentence lengthens to 10 days if the defendant’s BAC equaled or exceeded .20 percent. A second offense means the applicable mandatory minimum jail term is doubled in length.

What If Someone Gets Hurt or Killed in a DUI Accident?

Enhanced criminal penalties may also be utilized in the event someone causes a serious traffic accident because they were driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Drunk driving car crashes that result in an injury to someone else may lead to a Class 6 felony charge of maiming under Va. Code §18.2-51.4. If a drunk driving wreck leads to a fatality, ensuing charges may include involuntary manslaughter or aggravated involuntary manslaughter, as per Va. Code §18.2-36.1.

Hire a Richmond DUI Attorney to Defend Your Case

Driving under the influence is a serious offense but there are times when legal intoxication can be hard to determine. The breathalyzer device could be error-prone or your BAC level might have been misidentified on a police report. Furthermore, there are times where you might be facing harsher penalties than should be allowed. It is wise to have a Richmond DUI lawyer at your side to protect you and ensure you are treated fairly. Place a call now to get started on your potential case.