Why hire a DUI lawyer Fairfax, Va?
Everyone uses a DUI lawyer Fairfax, Va to represent him or her in a DUI or DWI case. (Note: In Virginia, a DUI and DWI are the same thing.) It is a Class 1 Misdemeanor crime – a very serious charge. The maximum penalty is up to one year in jail, up to $2,500 in fines, and (at least) 12 months of a license suspension. This is the same level crime as a Shoplifting and Assault & Battery. Don’t let a dishonest DUI lawyer Fairfax, Va scare you into hiring him by telling you that you will get the full year in jail or full $2,500 fine. Few people get the maximum charge. However, experienced and honest DUI lawyers will tell you that the following punishments are quite common for a first offense:
- Jail: While the odds that you will get a year in jail are very slim in most cases, depending upon whether your driving behavior was dangerous, your blood alcohol level (“BAC level”) was far above the minimum (0.08), and depending upon the Judge or the Prosecutor you get on your Court date, jail is a very real possibility. In fact, for cases with BAC levels over 0.15, jail is mandatory. And even without mandatory jail time, if you go on your own, without a DUI lawyer Fairfax, Va, with the wrong judge and the wrong argument you could receive significant jail time as punishment;
- License Suspension: The mandatory suspension is 1 year. Your DUI lawyer Fairfax, Va should ask the Court to allow you, depending upon the facts, to drive to and from work, school and other categories;
- Ignition Interlock: Recently, over the objections of most DUI lawyer Fairfax, Vas, the General Assembly required everyone who is convicted of DUI to get an ignition interlock machine installed in their car, and mandated that the defendants cannot drive without an interlock. (There is a “loophole” in this law for first offenders who don’t want a restricted license. Make sure your DUI lawyer explains that loophole);
- Fines: Usually less than $400.00;
- Demerit Points: 6 DMV demerit points; and
- Insurance: While it is not a legal issue for your DUI lawyer, you should check with your insurance company for how much your rates will increase.
Note: Our lawyers practice in Fairfax, and all other counties of Virginia. We have offices in Fairfax, Arlington, and Staunton. We reference Fairfax, Va. in this article because it is the largest jurisdiction in Virginia with the most rigid procedures. Work done to Fairfax standards meets or exceeds the standards in every other jurisdiction in the Commonwealth, so it is common to use it as a benchmark.
As one can see, the punishments are stiff. So, what can a DUI lawyer do for you? Your experienced DUI lawyer Fairfax, Va will have a first goal — to win your case. In America, the government must prove a criminal case “beyond a reasonable doubt.” That means that a DUI lawyer does not have to “prove” anything. The government must prove the case. But a good DUI lawyer doesn’t just sit and do nothing. In addition to making the government prove it, an experienced DUI lawyer will investigate many paths of defense. To name a few:
1. Check to see if the stop by the Police was Constitutional. In America, you cannot be stopped for no reason. A DUI lawyer Fairfax, Va will want to make sure that the Police can articulate a reason why you were pulled over. Our firm has won cases where the Police stated, “The Defendant was swerving within his lane.” However, the lane is designed to allow you to use the entire lane. Swerving outside the lane is not legal, but maintaining a path within the lane is totally legal unless the drifting within the lane is excessive.
2. A DUI lawyer Fairfax, Va will want to make sure there was Probable Cause for your arrest. The Constitution states that the government must show there is a reason to believe you may have been intoxicated. It is not illegal to consume alcohol and drive. It is only illegal to be intoxicated. The government must show some evidence of intoxication, or the DUI lawyer will get the case dismissed for an Unconstitutional arrest. Recently we won a case because, even though our client had a very high BAC of .17 at the station, he was talking normally without a slur, had good balance, and did not perform any coordination tests (commonly called “Field Sobriety Tests”).
3. If your DUI lawyer Fairfax, Va cannot win based upon lack of a reason to stop you or lack of Probable Cause to arrest you, all hope is not lost. The next avenue of attack is on the breath test. (Most cases are done using a breath test. But some involve a blood test.) For breath test cases, your DUI lawyer will want to consult the Division of Forensic Science records to see if the BAC machine used on you was properly certified, reading accurately and operating properly. An experienced DUI lawyer Fairfax, Va will obtain the test and certification records from the Diving of Forensic Science on all cases. While it is not common for a machine to malfunction, it does happen. Recently, we found hand written notes on the certification papers, “Out of Tolerance.” Obviously, if it is out of tolerance, it is not reliable, and if it is not reliable, it is not admissible in Court. As for Blood Tests, the Virginia Code gives an extremely detailed list of requirements. For example, the arm must be cleansed with non-alcohol sterilizers, the vials must be labeled in a certain way and mailed in a certain way, and you have the ability to get your own independent reading done.
4. At your trial, an experienced DUI lawyer Fairfax, Va will be able to recognize holes in the Prosecutor’s case. For example, did the Prosecutor prove you were actually driving? If the Police came to the scene of an accident, and he did not actually see you driving, can he prove you were actually driving? Or, if multiple Police Officers were working the case, can the arresting Officer show that he observed you the entire time and did not see you consume any alcohol after driving. Remember the charge is Operating Under the Influence – not being under the influence after one stops operating a car.
The bottom line is that a top DUI lawyer is necessary to win your case. And if, after all his work, your DUI lawyer cannot find a hole in the government’s case to achieve a dismissal, you need a DUI lawyer Fairfax, Va to avoid, or in the case of multiple offenses and high BAC’s minimize, jail and get you a restricted license so you don’t lose your job and will still be able to take care of your family.