Alexandria First Offense DUI Charges
First time DUI charges in Alexandria are heard in the Alexandria General District Court. Prosecutors handle these charges seriously. They are not as severe as second- or third-time charges but, nevertheless, they are handled in a serious way particularly in situations where there is evidence of an elevated Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), either 0.15 or above or 0.21 or above. If you are charged with a DUI, contact an experienced Alexandria DUI attorney right away.
The penalties for a first DUI are going include suspended jail time, a suspended driver’s license although a restricted license is usually authorized, completion of VASAP classes (Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program), and ignition interlock on the vehicle for a minimum of six months if a restricted license is ordered.
The courts do treat the first DUI offenses seriously. If a person is convicted, they can expect that they may have to serve time in jail and that they will have classes to complete, as well as fines to pay and a driver’s license suspension. There is no probation that is available on a first-time DUI case. In some cases, the charge may be reduced in appropriate circumstances, but if a person is found guilty or the facts are sufficient to find them guilty, the fact that it is a first time around is not going to be helpful.
In some circumstances, a clean prior record can be helpful in terms of when a court is determining what the punishment ought to be. But in terms of altering the charge, unfortunately a clean record is not going to help an individual avoid the charge itself.
Building A Defense
The two things that the government has to prove is whether a person was operating the motor vehicle and that they were under the influence. Normally, the part about operating vehicle is not going to be a defense, simply because the case will have begun with a traffic stop, but there are a number of ways to fight the evidence for the person being under the influence. Sometimes it is merely a matter of challenging the government’s proof. There are also multiple constitutional issues that come up in DUI cases, such as an illegal stop, illegal arrest, or some other misconduct or violation of rights on the part of the police.
When a person is charged with DUI, there is an automatic seven-day suspension of their driving privileges. If a person is convicted of a DUI on a first offense, their privilege to drive in Virginia will be suspended for a period of 12 months. Nevertheless, an individual can get a restricted driver’s license, which is going to allow them to drive for work and other purposes during the period of their suspension.
The only way to challenge the suspension of an individual’s license on a DUI is to challenge the conviction itself. Once a person is convicted and their license is suspended, there is no independent way to challenge that decision. The only real way to do that is to avoid being convicted of a DUI in the first place.
As part of the conviction process, a person has the ability to immediately apply for a restricted operator’s license, which is going to allow them to do a number of things such as drive for work purposes, school purposes, medical purposes, and child care or visitation. If a person is not convicted of a DUI, then there will be no effect on their license at all and it will continue as though it had never been suspended.
Mistakes to Avoid
The biggest mistake for individuals to avoid during the traffic stop itself is that many people believe that they have no choice but to cooperate with the police by performing tests and answering questions. In point of fact, they do not have to do any of those of things, and doing them frequently creates evidence against them.
The other big mistake that people make in this process is attempting to handle a serious case like this without the benefit of an experienced attorney. Because of how complicated these cases are, and because the consequences can be so far-reaching, it is important to have competent help to guide someone through the process.