Fairfax DUI Procedure

What is Fairfax DUI procedure?  This week, we appeared in court to defend a client charged with DUI in the Fairfax General District Court.  Fairfax is an unusual court in Virginia, due to the size of the county, and its procedures are unique.

For an overview of DUI law in Virginia, click here.

In Fairfax, DUI cases involve two court appearances — the first is to obtain “discovery” — the police report and, usually, video of the arrest.  If the case can be resolved on a plea agreement, then it can be resolved at that first court date.  Otherwise, the case is set for trial a month or two into the future.

On the second court appearance, the case may still be resolved on a plea agreement.  If not, the case goes to trial.

If a person loses his or her trial, he or she has the right to appeal to the Circuit Court for a new trial.  That trial can be before a judge or a jury.  The trial is “de novo” which means that the trial starts all over again in the higher trial court.

In our case, we could not reach a plea agreement that satisfied our client’s goals, so we set the matter for trial.  We’ll be back in a few months to resolve this case.

Fairfax DUI procedure is different than for DUI cases in most other Virginia courts.  Fairfax County is such a large county — larger than some US states — and the prosecutor’s office is so small relative to the population, that it developed procedures for the orderly handling of DUI cases.  While it is annoying to have at least two court appearances for most DUI cases, the system works generally well.  Also, the new use of dash cams by police have made the cases easier to defend.

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