Manassas DUI Lawyer
When you are charged with DUI it can seem like everyone is against you. Thankfully, a Manassas DUI lawyer can support and guide you through the legal defense process. Whether it’s your first time dealing with a DUI situation or you’re looking to avoid the more severe penalties that come from a subsequent conviction, a DUI lawyer in Manassas can provide you with the resources to achieve a favorable outcome in your case.
Importance of a Manassas DUI Lawyer
The lawyers at our firm are dedicated advocates for their clients, working to ensure that each individual gets fair treatment within the court system. One of the challenges that accompanies DUI charges is that clients sometimes have to battle the assumption of guilt by society and the prosecution. However, an experienced Manassas DUI lawyer can fight to make sure that all evidence was gathered correctly and that no facts are blown out of proportion.
It’s important to secure a defense lawyer as soon as you receive DUI charges in Manassas. By contacting a lawyer immediately, you’ll be able to conduct your free initial consultation and move one step closer to putting your charges behind you. They will also be able to provide valuable information about if there were any constitutional issues related to your DUI arrest and whether you have a case you can bring up in court.
DUI Charges in Manassas
Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both is a jailable Class 1 misdemeanor in the Commonwealth [Virginia Code Section 18.2-266]. Those who are intoxicated while operating a watercraft can also be charged. When facing such allegations, a Manassas DUI lawyer can work to help clients avoid any jail time associated with this offense.
DUI can be charged for any of several reasons, including:
- A person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is as little as 0.02 for drivers under the age of 21, or 0.08 for everyone else.
- A person is under the influence of alcohol in the opinion of the arresting officer.
- A person appears to be under the influence of drugs such as marijuana according to the arresting officer.
- A person appears impaired by a combination of drugs and alcohol.
When arrested, an individual’s driver’s license is immediately taken away by an administrative suspension. The length of that suspension can be 7 days, 60 days, or longer depending on if there are previous offenses. In order to get the suspension lifted, one must appear before the General District Court show that the officer lacked probable cause to arrest them. But success is not guaranteed, especially if they appear without counsel.
If someone is on probation for a previous crime and they are charged with a DUI, they could face significant additional or harsher penalties. Someone who is on probation should be extra careful about their actions because a misstep could jeopardize a person’s record severely.
Insurance rates almost always go up after a DUI conviction, assuming that insurance coverage is not canceled. If there are previous convictions or an elevated BAC of 0.15 or higher, mandatory minimum jail time will be imposed upon conviction. For all DWI convictions, an ignition interlock device (IID) that prevents their vehicle from starting if the operator is intoxicated must be installed once they are allowed to drive again on a restricted license. [Virginia Code Section 18.2-270.1].
Penalties for DWI/DUI Convictions
A first-offense DUI carries a penalty of up to 12 months in jail, and/or a fine as high as $2,500, a statutory one-year license suspension, and six DMV demerit points (which are not removed for 11 years).
If convicted a second time, the fine is between $500 and $2,500, a mandatory 10 to 40 days in jail is imposed, depending on the BAC (with a maximum sentence of up to a year), together with a three-year license suspension, and six DMV points. For the third offense within five years, a restricted driver’s license cannot even be applied for until a year has passed. For a second offense within ten years, 4 months must pass before a restricted license can be applied for.
A third or subsequent offense is a felony, and brings a fine of between $1,000 and $2,500, an enhanced mandatory minimum jail sentence of three or six months (depending on the BAC) to a year, six DMV points, and indefinite driver’s license suspension [Virginia Code Section 18.2-270].
New punishments were recently established for minors (under 21), and the BAC can be as low as trace amounts (less than 0.02 percent) [Virginia Code Section 18.2-266.1]. Penalties include a fine of $500, a one-year driver’s license suspension, and 50 hours of community service.
A person can also expect a conviction to appear on their arrest record which can be accessed by the public.
BAC Evidence in Virginia
Police must have reasonable articulable suspicion to stop, and then probable cause to arrest you for suspicion of DUI. Depending on your actions during and after the traffic stop, any available police cruiser dashcam video (or officer shoulder cam) can be evidence enough to validate the arrest on the spot. If there is none, the determinant is your ability to pass a series of mental and physical Standard Field Sobriety Tests. You can refuse to take them, but that refusal can be considered as evidence of consciousness of guilt for purposes of determining whether there was probable cause for the arrest.
Upon arrival at a police station, a formal blood chemical test is administered. Usually, it’s with a breathalyzer but in some cases, blood will be drawn for analysis. Individuals also have the right to refuse this test, but if they do, their driver’s license is revoked for a year, with no possibility of getting a restricted license [Virginia Code Section 18.2-268.3].
Though BAC tests are compelling evidence at trial, an experienced Manassas DUI lawyer may be able to have them thrown out due to possible procedural errors in conducting the test, chain of evidentiary custody issues, or breathalyzer errors such as improper calibration. In addition, if you were administered a blood test, the sample may have been mishandled or contaminated, which makes the evidence unreliable. Another defense would be to argue rising blood alcohol, which would provide that in the time between a person is stopped and subsequently takes the Breathalyzer test at the police station, their BAC has elevated past the legal limit.
Work with an Aggressive DUI Lawyer in Manassas
Considering the short and long-term ramifications of being convicted of any driving-while-intoxicated offense, it is paramount that all who face such allegations retain a seasoned Manassas DUI lawyer to provide the best possible defense given the circumstances. An attorney who has practiced in the area will have cultivated relationships with prosecutors and trusted expert witnesses that can ultimately benefit your case. They will be able to provide valuable advice into what common mistakes to avoid making that may potentially harm your case in the long run. Our legal team is standing by to conduct your free initial consultation.