Frequently Asked Questions About DUI

Frequently Asked Questions About DUIQ: What Justifies A DUI Traffic Stop?

Answer: The Police Officer must have reasonable suspicion that you are engaging in criminal activity in order to initiate a stop for any traffic related matter. The law indicates that the police officer must be able to point to specific and articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts reasonably warrant the stop of your vehicle

Q: Do The Police Have The Right To Ask You To “Step Out Of The Car” – Can You Refuse?

Answer: An officer can order all occupants of a vehicle out of the car pending the completion of the stop if the initial stop was lawful. The reasoning behind this rule is to protect the officer’s safety.

Q: What Happens If You Refuse To Step Out Of The Car?”

Failing to comply with a police officer’s lawful order can result in a person’s arrest and additional charges being brought against that person.

Q: At Any Time, Does A Driver Have The Right To Refuse To Answer Police Questions?”

Answer: The driver has the right to refuse police questions. Outside of identifying themselves, a driver does not have to answer any additional questions.

Q: Do The Police Have The Right To Search Your Vehicle? What Happens If You Refuse A Search Of Your Vehicle?”

Answer: In order to search a vehicle, the police officers must have probable cause to do so. Probable cause to search exists when facts and circumstances known to the officer provide the basis for a reasonable person to believe that a crime was committed at the vehicle to be searched, or that evidence of a crime exists in the vehicle

Q: What Are The Standardized Field Sobriety (FST) Tests?

Answer: FST’s are tests that are administered by a Law Enforcement officer to assist the Officer in determining whether probable cause exists to arrest a person for a DUI/DWI. There are a number of different FSTs including but not limited to

One Legged Stand
Walk and Turn Test
Alphabet Test
Finger to Nose Test
Finger Dexterity Test
Counting Test
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

Q: Do FSts Really Determine If You’re Impaired? Can A Person Refuse To Complete A Standard Field Sobriety Test?

Answer: The purpose of all sobriety tests is to ensure that a police officer has probable cause to arrest someone for driving under the influence. The tests were formed to assist the officer and gauging impairment. A driver does not have to take field sobriety tests if they do not want to with there being a penalty to them.

Q: What Issues Can Impact A Standard Field Sobriety Test?

Answer: There are a number of factors that can affect a person’s performance on FST’s outside of intoxication. Their weight, the road conditions, physical impairment, whether they have diabetes, outside distractions, nervousness, noise, etc.

Q: Are Standard Field Sobriety Tests Admissible In Court? If Not, How Is Admissibility Determined?”

Answer: Yes and No. Standardized field sobriety are admissible in court has long as the Police Officer administered the test properly. Each test involves different instructions that the officer must give and failure to follow those guideline could result in the inadmissibility of a test.

Q: What Is A Preliminary / Portable Breath Test (PBT)? (Road-Side Breath Test)

Answer: The PBT is a device that measures a person’s blood alcohol to assist the Officer in determining whether there is probable cause to make a DUI arrest. Most portable breath machines are unreliable because they measure the amount of alcohol in the individual’s breath rather than the actual BAC level.

Q: Is The Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) Voluntary Or Required In Your State?

Answer: The PBT is voluntary in Virginia and we almost always recommend that a driver does NOT submit to the PBT. The PBT can be used by the officer to give him the probable cause that he needs to make an arrest which makes it more difficult later on to contest the validity of the arrest.

Q: What Happens If You Refuse The Preliminary Breath Test (PBT)?

Answer: In Virginia, the PBT is a voluntary test and you do not and should not take it. It will aid the Commonwealth’s case and make things more difficult for your defense later on.

Q: What Is The Purpose Of A Breathalyzer Test Taken At The Station Vs. The PBT?”

Answer: The purpose of the PBT is to aid the officer in determining whether there is probable cause to make an arrest for a DUI/DWI. This test cannot be used against a person at the guilt or innocence portion of a trial but it can be used if you are attacking whether the officer had probable cause to make an arrest. The breathalyzer test taken at the station is used to determine a person’s blood alcohol level and can be used to determine whether a person is legally intoxicated. Under the Implied Consent law, a person who is lawfully arrested for a DUI/DWI consents to having a sample of his breath or blood taken. Failure to do so can result in an additional charge of “Unreasonable Refusal” being levied upon the driver.

Q: How Accurate Are Breathalyzer Tests?”

Answer: It depends. One of the first things that we do is obtain the calibration records for the breathalyzer machine that was used which shows the margin of error associated with the machine in question. The manner in which the machine was used can also skew the results

Q: What Is The Implied Consent Law And How Does It Impact A Driver’s Rights?”

Answer: Virginia’s “implied consent” law says that if you are lawfully arrested by an officer who has probable cause to believe that you have been driving under the influence, then you consent to taking a chemical test of your blood, breath, or both for the purpose of determining your blood alcohol content (BAC) or the presence of drugs.

Q: Is It Possible To Get A Restricted License Or Hardship License In Order To Drive To Work, School, And/Or Medical Appointments?

Answer: In most situations, YES. If you are charged with a first offense DUI/DWI, the court must take your license for a period of 12 months but you could get a restricted license. If you are charged with a DUI/DWI second offense within 5 years, your license is suspended for a period of 3 years but you would be eligible for a restricted license after 1 years has passed. If you are charged with a DUI/DWI second offense within 10 years, your license is suspended for a period of 3 years and you would not be eligible for a restricted license until 4 months has passed. If you are found guilty of a refusal, your license would be suspended for a period of 12 months and you would NOT be eligible for a restricted license.

Q: What Is An Ignition Interlock System And How Does It Work?

Answer: An ignition interlock device is a mechanism, like a breathalyzer, installed on a motor vehicle’s dashboard. Before the vehicle’s motor can be started, the driver first must exhale into the device; if the resultant breath-alcohol concentration analyzed result is greater than the programmed blood alcohol concentration the device prevents the engine from being started.

Q: When Does The Court Require A Person To Use An Ignition Interlock System?”

Answer: The court requires ignition interlock be installed in any vehicle for a period of at least 6 months for any person convicted of a DUI/DWI.

Q: What Are The Out-Of-Pocket Costs For An Ignition Interlock System?

Answer: The price ignition interlock systems vary depending on who you have do the installation. Typically the costs are around $80 per month with a $65 installation fee.

Q: If A Person Already Has An Arrest Record, For DUI Related Offenses, How Will That Influence Their Sentencing? What About Non-DUI Related Offenses?”

Answer: A person’s record can have a great impact on their potential sentence. A DUI/DWI second offense within 5 years carries a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 20 days. A DUI/DWI second offense within 10 years carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 days. A DUI/DWI 3rd with 5 years carries a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 6 months. A DUI/DWI 3rd with 10 years carries a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 90 days. The blood alcohol concentration can also affect the amount of mandatory jail time. Non-DUI related offenses can also play a role in the prosecutor or judge wanted to deviate from the minimums associated with a DUI/DWI

Q: What Does Mandatory Minimum Jail Time Mean For VA DUI Offenses?”

Answer: Mandatory Minimum jail time is exactly that. It is the minimum amount of jail the court must, by statute, give a person convicted of a crime. Unlike jail time on most misdemeanors, you do not get good time credit for mandatory minimum time therefore you must serve every day of a mandatory minimum sentence when no possibility for reductions.

Q: What Is The Impact Of A DUI On Driving Privileges In Virginia?”

Answer: If you are charged with a first offense DUI/DWI, the court must take your license for a period of 12 months but you could get a restricted license. If you are charged with a DUI/DWI second offense within 5 years, your license is suspended for a period of 3 years but you would be eligible for a restricted license after 1 years has passed. If you are charged with a DUI/DWI second offense within 10 years, your license is suspended for a period of 3 years and you would not be eligible for a restricted license until 4 months has passed. If you are found guilty of a refusal, your license would be suspended for a period of 12 months and you would NOT be eligible for a restricted license. For a DUI/DWI 3rd or subsequent offense, the court will suspended your license INDEFINITELY and you would not be able to petition the court for restoration of your driving privileges until at least 5 years have passed.

Q: What Are Alternative Punishments To Jail, You Are Able To Get For Your Clients Convicted Of DUI?”

Answer: Your goal is as an attorney is to always attempt to get a person’s charge dismissed. If you are not able to, you have to think of alternatives. One example is to pursue a reduction of the charge to a lesser offense or to charge without as many terms and conditions. If the court chooses to impose jail time, depending on the jurisdiction, there may potentially be alternates to incarceration such as work release, modified work release, in home incarceration, weekends, etc.

Q: Tell Me What The Importance Is In Planning A Client’s Defense Before Meeting?”

Answer: You always need to go into every case with a plan, which is why we provide all of our clients with a Plan of Action to help tackle their case in the most favorable way possible. We always do our best to implement a strategy that best suits each individual client’s needs. This is dependent on the facts of their case. If you do not have a plan in place, it will be difficult to provide your client with the best defense possible when their court date finally arrives.

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