• 10 Reasons to Retain a DUI Lawyer if Charged in Virginia
  • February 27, 2015
  • Law Firm: The Law Firm of Susan F. Fremit P.C. - Arlington Office
  • Even with Miranda rights in place to protect you from incriminating yourself after arrest, the Virginia implied consent laws make it a crime to avoid self-incrimination by refusing blood alcohol testing. While this may seem unfair, you agree to submit to these tests by virtue of driving on Virginia roadways, and refusal to submit to testing amounts to a crime that is separate and distinct from any DUI charges that may follow.

    Although the cards may seem stacked against you in DUI cases in Fairfax and throughout Virginia, experienced DUI attorneys can employ many methods for disputing and refuting key evidence that can lead to a conviction.

    Your best defense to a charge of DUI/DWI in Virginia is to hire an experienced DUI lawyer to fight for you. Here are 10 reasons to retain a DUI lawyer if charged under § 18.2-266 of the Virginia Code:

    1. While there are no guarantees that an experienced DUI lawyer will win your case, at the very least, they should be able to negotiate some of the non-mandatory penalties upon a conviction. If over the age of 21 and found guilty of DUI, penalties for a first time offender can include:

    • a minimum five (5) day jail term for Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) between 0.15% and 0.20% or a minimum ten (10) day jail term for BAC 0.20% and above
    • a maximum term one (1) year jail term
    • a minimum fine of $250 up to $2,500
    • a one (1) year license suspension
    • a minimum six (6) month installation of an Ignition Interlock Device, plus the cost to install the device and monthly charges for the computer chip to be read and the results sent to Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program
    • the requirement to complete the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program, plus the cost to attend such program
    • six (6) demerit points assessed by the VA DMV against your driving record;
    • dramatic insurance rate increases
    • a criminal record for a class 1 criminal misdemeanor

    2. An experienced DUI lawyer provides you with significantly better odds of a positive outcome than if you were to represent yourself. Simply pleading guilty to quickly resolve your case stops your ability to get your record expunged. You must be found not guilty or have the charges withdrawn by Commonwealth (nolle prosequi) to be able to submit a petition for anexpungement.

    3. A DUI conviction is on your record for life. In exceptional circumstances, a governor's absolute pardon can be granted for an erroneous conviction, but it would be next to impossible for a DUI conviction and would serve as Virginia’s first of this kind.

    4. A DUI conviction can have negative impacts on your life. Outside of the judicial penalties handed down by the court, a DUI conviction can result in: limited job opportunities or even loss of employment, difficulties renting an apartment, increased car insurance, professional sanctions (e.g. a lawyer convicted of a DUI can face a reprimand from the Bar), and even the potential inadmissibility to travel internationally.

    5. Interested in visiting our neighbors to the North with a DUI conviction? According to the Government of Canada, while the immigration officer will decide if you can enter the country when you arrive at a port of entry, “if you have been convicted of driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, you will probably be found criminally inadmissible to Canada” without an approved permit issued by the Government, that can come with a $200 processing fee. Other countries can have similar admissibility criteria and policies.

    6. Even if you have confidence of your own innocence, it takes an experienced and respected attorney to successfully negotiate with Commonwealth attorneys. Your best line of defense is to contact a local lawyer who is familiar with the judges and prosecutors of that area, as different judges can have varying approaches, especially in areas of the law that allow discretion.

    7. While the thought of legal bills may stress you out and seem excessively high, there is no substitute for knowing the law. What are you paying for? To start, a minimum of three years of formal legal education (JD or equivalent), possible internships, successfully pass the state bar, hold varying years of practice and expertise. If the low end of a JD costs $150,000 and years of experience and expertise are priceless, solely on economics, aren’t you getting your money’s worth to protect your future?

    8. An experienced DUI lawyer has the expertise to build arguments based on human errors. For example, the Virginia Department of Forensic Science provides detailed instructions in the use of breath test equipment for law enforcement officials charged with conducting these tests. According to these instructions, testers must observe the subject for at least 20 minutes before conducting a test of at least two samples. After undergoing a series of procedures to identify the tester and the subject, the equipment undergoes a series of tests before the subject blows into the mouthpiece. Although the equipment provides step-by-step instructions to testers, any number of errors can occur to render test results inaccurate.

    9. Hiring a DUI lawyer will give you access to the pool of technical knowledge useful in refuting breath test results. For example, medical conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can increase alcohol content in the breath without accurately reflecting the alcohol content in the blood and portable testing equipment does not have the same accuracy levels as the tabletop devices used for testing at police stations.

    10. The Law Firm of Susan F. Fremit, P.C. makes hiring a DUI lawyer simple in Alexandria, Arlington, Culpeper, Fairfax, Falls Church, Fredericksburg, Louisa, Spotsylvania and Stafford, Virginia. Simply contact Susan F. Fremit, P.C. now or call (703) 666-9263 or (540) 322-2594 for a free consultation.

    Additional Information / Sources

    For more information on implied consent to post-arrest testing on Virginia road ways, visit: https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+18.2-268.2

    For more information on the refusal of tests, corresponding penalties and procedures, visit: https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+18.2-268.3

    For more information on legal penalties for DUI/DWI convictions listed in the Virginia Code, visit: http://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title18.2/chapter7/section18.2-266.1/ and https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+18.2-270.

    For more information from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (VA DMV), visit: http://www.dmv.org/va-virginia/automotive-law/dui.php#DUI-Penalties-21-and-Older and http://www.dmv.org/va-virginia/automotive-law/dui.php

    For more information on the expungement of police and court records in Virginia, visit: https://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+19.2-392.2

    For more information on obtaining a governor’s absolute pardon in Virginia, visit the Commonwealth at: https://commonwealth.virginia.gov/judicial-system/pardons/absolute-pardons/

    For more information on the detailed instructions from the Virginia Department of Forensic Science on the use of breath test equipment for law enforcement officials charged with conducting these tests, visit http://www.dfs.virginia.gov/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/InstructionalManualIntoxECIRII.pdf

    For more information on Canadian admissibility criteria, visit the Government at: http://www.cic.gc.ca/ENGLISH/information/inadmissibility/index.asp