Have you been charged with a DUI in Virginia? Check out these 5 things to learn about your DUI charge, then give our attorneys a call today.
1) Conviction Penalties
If you’ve been charged with a DUI or DWI in Virginia, you want to make sure that you contact an experience DUI or DWI attorney right away. The main reason being is because even if it’s your first offense, you are still going to be facing extreme consequences. A DUI or DWI is a class one misdemeanor. That means that it carries up to a year in jail, a $2,500 fine, as well as a 12-month loss of your license and a permanent criminal record. There are other punishments that go along with this such as increased insurance rates. You would have a DUI in your record for the rest of your life. It could affect your employment. The list goes on and on. You want to make sure that you have someone on your side who can help minimize those consequences.
Now, a lot of people ask, “Am I going to go to jail for a first offense DUI?” That question depends on the facts and circumstances but there are actually circumstances where there’s mandatory jail time if you are found guilty of a DUI. If it’s a second offense or if your blood alcohol level is extremely high, you may be facing mandatory jail time. You’re going to want to talk to somebody right away who can help you understand the process, who can help you fight to make sure that you get the result that you deserve.
2) Losing Your License
A common question that we get when a person picks up a DUI or DWI charge is what’s going to happen to their license. A lot of people don’t realize prior to getting arrested that actually, when you get arrested, they suspend your license in Virginia right away for a period of time, depending on how many priors you have. If it’s your first offense, they’ll suspend your license for seven days right away before your case is even heard. If it’s a second offense, they’ll suspend it for 60 days before your case is even heard. If it’s a third or more offense, they’ll suspend it indefinitely. If you’re found guilty, there are additional license suspensions that can be imposed. Up to a year for a first offense, up to three years for a second offense, and indefinitely for a third or subsequent offense. If you want to have your best chance at keeping your license in your pocket, then you’re going to want to make sure that you contact an experienced DUI or DWI lawyer as soon as possible to help you navigate through the whole process.
Sometimes clients call and tell us they were injured in an accident due to somebody else’s fault; either they forgot, they were in a hurry, or some people are just opposed to it still. What we tell those clients is you are able to receive compensation for injuries sustained in that car accident as long as the seat belt would not have prevented them. For example, if you’re struck from the side and you break your arm against the door, you have a valid claim for that injury. If, however, by wearing a seat belt you would not have struck your head on the steering wheel, for example, then you are not protected. It’s called the seat belt defense. What would happen is, although we would claim all of the injuries that were caused by the accident, the defendants are allowed to assert as a defense that because you weren’t wearing a seat belt those injuries should be either precluded or diminished because of your failure to wear that device.
3) Refusing the Breathalyzer Test
A lot of people may or may not know this, but in Virginia, the blood alcohol limit is 0.08. Now, one of the questions to ask is how they figure out what your blood alcohol level is. There’s a couple of ways to figure that out. There’s what’s called a breathalyzer, an intoxilyzer test and there’s also a blood test. Now, the question becomes whether or not you can refuse to take those tests. Yes and no. When you are being investigated for a DUI or DWI, one of the first things the police officer is going to ask is whether or not you’d like to submit to a breath test. They’re talking about what’s called a preliminary breath test, or slang PBT, that they will issue you on the street. That test, there’s no legal requirement that you have to take. Now, there’s a separate test, a breathalyzer, intoxilyzer test or a blood test where anyone who is driving a vehicle on a public road or highway in the commonwealth of Virginia consents to having a sample of their breath or blood taken if they are arrested for suspicion of a DUI or DWI.
If you refuse to take that test, then unfortunately you can be charged with something called refusal. Now, refusal is a civil charge for a first offense which carries with it a loss of your license for one year. Now, if you have multiple refusal charges or multiple DUIs in your record, it then becomes a misdemeanor charge depending on your prior criminal record. Therefore, as a result, there are some situations where you can decline a breath test and there are others where you have to take it or you run the risk of further action being taken against you. Now, you should always reach out to an attorney regarding questions such as this so that they can see how your situation applies to the law and so how they can see what they can do to help you with your refusal of a breath or blood test.
4) Common Mistakes To Avoid
One of the most common questions that we get is how one can pick the best attorney to help with my DUI or DWI charge. That’s a good question and it’s also a difficult one to answer because there’s a lot of options out there. The most important thing when choosing an attorney is you’re going to want someone who you feel most comfortable with. You’ve picked up a criminal charge for which you need assistance and your future is at stake. You need someone who you can trust that’s going to fight for you to get you the result that you deserve. You’re also going to want someone who has extensive experience handling DUI and DWI charges in the Virginia criminal justice system. Our office has extensive experience and we’re prepared to do whatever possible to make sure that you get the best result that you can possibly receive.
If you’re charged with a DUI in Virginia, the cost can be extensive. There’s a number of things that people don’t think about when they get behind the wheel of a vehicle with alcohol in their system. Not only is there the cost of a lawyer but there’s cost that can be incurred to the court system. There’s cost that can be incurred for your insurance rates being risen. There’s cost that can be incurred because you could potentially lose your job. Your license may be suspended therefore you may have to take public transportation which can have a cost attached to it. There’s something called an alcohol safety action program, also known as the ASAP program, which costs money and include additional cost. The costs keep going on and on and on. There’s a number of different costs that are associated with a DUI or DWI which can be levied upon you if you are found guilty. There are also costs that can be even if you’re found not guilty, the cost of an attorney, the cost of the court system, the cost to produce certain evidence. You’re always going to want to speak to someone so they can see what they can do to help you so they can try to minimize the cost and the damage to you and your life.
Do you or your loved one have questions about a DWI/DUI charge? After checking out these 5 things to learn about your DUI charge, contact our experienced Virginia DWI lawyers today for a free consultation and case evaluation.
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