Alexandria, VA – So you’ve been arrested for a DUI / DWI – Part I

Being charged with Drunk Driving / DUI / DWI can be a harrowing experience.  No one plans for it and no one ever expects that it will happen to them.  This series seeks to explain the process to help you understand what to expect after your arrest in Alexandria, VA and, most importantly, what impacts the DUI / DWI could have on your future.

If you are charged with a DWI in Alexandria, Virginia, you likely want to know what you are facing. Under § 18.266 & 18.2-270 of the Code of Virginia, the maximum penalty for a 1st (First) offense DWI / DUI is up to 12 months in jail and a fine of not more than $2,500.00. DWI / DUI first offenses in Alexandria, Virginia are Class 1 Misdemeanors. A DWI / DUI second offense is still a class 1 misdemeanor but includes mandatory minimum jail sentences and fines. A third (3rd) offense is a felony as is any offense after being convicted of a felony DUI / DWI. Please see the below chart for the mandatory sentences required for DUI Offenses in Alexandria, Virginia

OffenseSentenceMandatory Jail Not Subject To SuspensionFineMin/MaxASAPDL SuspensionRestricted DLIgnition Interlock
1st0 – 12 MonthsBAC ≥.15 but ≤.20 = 5 daysBAC > .20 = 10 days$250/ $2500Required12 MonthsMay Order ImmediatelyRequired
2nd in 530 Days – 12 Months20 Days:BAC ≥.15 but ≤.20 = 10 days

BAC > .20 = 20 days

$500/ $2500Elevated BAC:  $1000 MinRequired3 YearsAfter 1 year SuspensionRequired
2nd in 1030 Days – 12 Months10 Days:BAC ≥.15 but ≤.20 = 10 addt’l days

BAC > .20 = 20 addt’l days

$500/ $2500Elevated BAC:  $1000 MinRequired3 YearsAfter 4 month suspensionRequired
3rd in 5 [Class 6]1-5 Years or 12 Months plus $25006 Months$1000/ $2500NoIndefinite; May petition court after Min of 5 yrsMay petition circuit court after min of 3 yrsYes, at least 6 months upon restoration of DL or with restricted DL during time of Suspension
3rd in 10 [Class 6]1-5 Years or 12 Months plus $250090 Days$1000/ $2500NoIndefinite; May petition court after Min of 5 yrsMay petition circuit court after min of 3 yrsYes, at least 6 months upon restoration of DL or with restricted DL during time of Suspension
4th in 101-5 Years or 12 Months plus $2500One Year                                              [& probation for time operator’s license is suspended but not > 3 years.$1000/ $2500NoIndefinite; May petition court after Min of 5 yrsMay petition circuit court after min of 3 yrsYes, at least 6 months upon restoration of DL or with restricted DL during time of Suspension
*If a person convicted was transporting a person ≤ 17 y/o =additional fine of $500 – $1000 and a mandatory 5 days confinement.**Can seek forfeiture of the ∆’s vehicle for a 3rd or subsequent offense within 10 years.Va. Code § 18.2-166 through § 182-.2-272

Arlington, VA – DWI / DUI – So you’ve been arrested for a DUI / DWI (Part I)

No one ever plans on being arrested for a DWI / DUI. A charge of Drunk Driving can be a daunting experience and many people arrested for DWI / DUI in Arlington do not know what to expect next. This post seeks to explain the process to help you understand what to expect after your arrest.

If you are charged with a DWI in Arlington, Virginia, you likely want to know what you are facing. If you are charged with DWI / DUI in Virginia under § 18.266 & 18.2-270 of the Code of Virginia, the maximum penalty for a 1st (First) offense is up to 12 months in jail and a fine of not more than $2,500.00. DWI / DUI first offenses in Arlington, Virginia are Class 1 Misdemeanors. A DWI / DUI second offense is still a class 1 misdemeanor but includes mandatory minimum jail sentences and fines. A third (3rd) offense is a felony as is any offense after being convicted of a felony DUI / DWI. Please see the below chart for the mandatory sentences required for DUI Offenses in Arlington, Virginia

OffenseSentenceMandatory Jail Not Subject To SuspensionFine

Min/Max

ASAPDL SuspensionRestricted DLIgnition Interlock
1st0 – 12 MonthsBAC ≥.15 but ≤.20 = 5 days

BAC > .20 = 10 days

$250/ $2500Required12 MonthsMay Order ImmediatelyRequired
2nd in 530 Days – 12 Months20 Days:

BAC ≥.15 but ≤.20 = 10 days

BAC > .20 = 20 days

$500/ $2500

Elevated BAC:  $1000 Min

Required3 YearsAfter 1 year SuspensionRequired
2nd in 1030 Days – 12 Months10 Days:

BAC ≥.15 but ≤.20 = 10 addt’l days

BAC > .20 = 20 addt’l days

$500/ $2500

Elevated BAC:  $1000 Min

Required3 YearsAfter 4 month suspensionRequired
3rd in 5 [Class 6]1-5 Years or 12 Months plus $25006 Months$1000/ $2500NoIndefinite; May petition court after Min of 5 yrsMay petition circuit court after min of 3 yrsYes, at least 6 months upon restoration of DL or with restricted DL during time of Suspension
3rd in 10 [Class 6]1-5 Years or 12 Months plus $250090 Days$1000/ $2500NoIndefinite; May petition court after Min of 5 yrsMay petition circuit court after min of 3 yrsYes, at least 6 months upon restoration of DL or with restricted DL during time of Suspension
4th in 101-5 Years or 12 Months plus $2500One Year                                              [& probation for time operator’s license is suspended but not > 3 years.$1000/ $2500NoIndefinite; May petition court after Min of 5 yrsMay petition circuit court after min of 3 yrsYes, at least 6 months upon restoration of DL or with restricted DL during time of Suspension
*If a person convicted was transporting a person ≤ 17 y/o = additional fine of $500 – $1000 and a mandatory 5 days confinement.

**Can seek forfeiture of the ∆’s vehicle for a 3rd or subsequent offense within 10 years.

Va. Code § 18.2-166 through § 182-.2-272

Arlington DWI / DUI Arraignments

If you have been charged with DWI / DUI in Arlington, Virginia, you may have been surprised at how fast you had to appear in Court for your arraignment.  Usually, the Court will set this first appearance within 2 weeks of the initial offense – many times almost exactly 7 days after you were arrested.  If you were released from jail, your first appearance will be at 2 pm.  This first appearance is an arraignment.

Many people ask me how they should plead at their Arraignment in Arlington, Virginia.  People are often shocked when I tell them that the judge is not going to ask for a plea at their arraignment.  Two significant things happen at this hearing:  (1) the judge will advise you that if convicted of the charge of DUI / DWI, you will be facing a potential jail sentence; and (2) he or she will advise you of your right to counsel.  If you think you can not afford your own lawyer, the judge will have you fill out paperwork to see if you qualify for court appointed counsel.  Finally, the judge will set your trial date at the conclusion of that hearing.  This date is normally within 45 – 60 days.

Individuals who retain counsel prior to the hearing can, and most times will, have that hearing waived.  Because you have exercised your right counsel already, the lawyer can submit the appropriate documents to waive the arraignment and set the case directly for trial.  After that, the lawyer will work on getting discovery and preparing the case for trial.

DWI | DUI – How to Protect Yourself

A DUI / DWI charge around the holiday season can turn a joyful time into an anxious situation for anyone. However, if you happen to find yourself in this unfortunate situation, there are few things you should remember when dealing with the police in Virginia:

1. You have the right to remain silent. You do not have to answer the officer’s questions! Being silent protects you from making statements that might be used against you later in court. I think we all know we have this right but so few people in this situation exercise this right. Further, its important to remember that during an investigation, a police officer has no obligation to tell you of this right. Since you are not technically “in custody”, police officers do not have to read you Miranda warnings either. Even during the first interactions with the officer, you have the right to say nothing. If you feel you must speak, tell the officer that you do not wish to make any statements and that you wish to exercise your right to remain silent. You can simply tell the officer “I’m sorry but I do not wish to answer any questions or make any statements.” It is important to note, that exercising this right does not mean you do not have to follow lawful commands of the officer such as producing your identification, registration, and exiting the vehicle. Failure to follow his commands, could get you in more trouble; however, you can do so silently.

2. You do not have to do Field Sobriety Tests. In Virginia, performing Field Sobriety Tests are voluntary. You do not have to do them and, if you do choose to do them, this evidence will surely be used against you if charged with DWI / DUI. A police officer is under no obligation to tell you that you do not have to do these tests. In fact, the officer will likely try to talk you into performing them. In limited situations, a refusal to do Field Sobriety Tests could be used against you. But the inferences drawn from a refusal to do them far outweighs the evidence that they offer if you do take these tests. In the end, it is in most people’s best interest not to do these tests.

3. You have a right to refuse the Preliminary Breath Test: Under Virginia law, you have the right to refuse to submit to a preliminary breath test (also known as a roadside breath test) (PBT). The officer must tell you that you do not have to take the test and can not be used against you a prosecution for DUI; however, it can be used to prove probable cause to arrest you. In every situation, you should exercise your right not to take the PBT. This test rarely, if ever, helps you avoid arrest. By the time the officer is offering this test, he or she likely knows if they are going to arrest you. All performing this test can do for you is take away you lawyer’s ability to challenge probable cause.

The above three tips will help those of you who find themselves charged with a DUI | DWI in Virginia potentially avoid being convicted. If the officer is asking you questions about drinking or asking you to do Field Sobriety Tests, they already suspect that you are driving under the influence. Don’t think you can talk your way out of it or show them that you are not intoxicated by passing the Field Sobriety Tests. Think long-term and do the best to protect yourself from prosecution. Cooperating with the investigation and not exercising your constitutional and statutory rights only gives the prosecution more evidence to use against you.

Keep in mind that one of the first questions the prosecutor will ask the officer is if you were polite and cooperative with them. Never be rude to the officer or difficult. Be polite and courteous while exercising these rights.

If charged with a DUI | DWI in Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, or Fauquier, I can help you potentially win your case. A good defense starts with you protecting yourself!

Loudoun Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing Felony or misdemeanor charges in Loudoun, Virginia, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney with the inside knowledge that only comes from being a former prosecutor.  These types of charges can carry serious consequences and you need an attorney who can provide you with a successful plan to fight the charges.  It is imperative that you keep your criminal record clean, avoid jail, and lengthy probation obligations.  You need the best protection possible.

Felony Charges in Loudoun

In Loudoun, Virginia, a felony charge is the most serious crime one can be accused of committing.  A felony is a crime punished by more than one (1) year [or twelve (12) months] in prison.  (Felonies are distinguished from misdemeanors and infractions by the length of punishment).  In addition to the negative stigma of being a convicted felon, a felony conviction will result in a loss of the following rights:

  • Right to vote
  • Hold public office
  • Possess a firearm
  • Sit on a jury; and
  • Serve as a notary public.

Because a felony offense is a serious criminal charge, convictions are often accompanied by long prison terms followed by extensive probationary periods.  A felony conviction will change your life forever!  Because of this, you need an experienced Loudoun criminal defense attorney who can help you overcome these accusations.  The following offenses are the most common types of felonies:

  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Rape | Sex Offenses
  • Robbery
  • Fraud| White Collar Crimes
  • Theft | Shoplifting | Grand Larceny
  • Malicious Wounding | Unlawful Wounding
  • Gang | Mob Offenses
  • Abduction | Kidnapping
  • Felony DUI | Felony DWI
  • Firearms Offenses
  • Property Crimes
  • Computer Crimes
  • Forgery | Uttering
  • Credit Card Fraud | Credit Card Theft

 Misdemeanor Criminal Defense in Loudoun

In Loudoun, like the rest of the United States, misdemeanors are a less severe type of criminal offense.  A misdemeanor is punished by no more than 12 months in jail.  Even though misdemeanors are less serious than a felony, it can still be a major impact on your livelihood. The mere presence of a criminal conviction on your record could cost you a job, security clearance, financial aid, and much more.  Most misdemeanors in Loudoun, Virginia still carry the risk of jail, a hefty fine, and probation.  A former prosecutor turned Loudoun criminal defense attorney can help you avoid all the negatives associated with a criminal conviction.  Examples of misdemeanors in Loudoun are:

  • Simple assault [& battery]
  • Possession of marijuana or Schedule III/IV substances
  • Underage Possession of Alcohol
  • Drunk In Public
  • Petit Larceny | Shoplifting | Petty theft
  • Obstruction of justice without force
  • Trespassing
  • Carrying a concealed weapon
  • Minor Property Offenses
  • Domestic Violence (Assault and Batter on a family member)
  • Driving while intoxicated or under the influence [DWI | DUI)
  • Driving on a suspended license | Drive on revoked license

The assistance of an experienced Loudoun criminal defense attorney could be the difference between a conviction and acquittal. Attorney Dischley is a proven Loudoun criminal defense attorney who will work tirelessly towards getting the charges dropped.

Attorney Dischley began his legal career working in the Loudoun Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.  His experience in Loudoun has prepared him to handle your case with the finesse and skill you expect of an experienced criminal attorney.  Attorney Dischley is a talented attorney who remains up to speed on the newest laws and cases.  Most importantly, he has spent time on both sides of the courtroom and has the inside knowledge you count on when you are accused of a crime.   He will know the impediments you must overcome to obtain a positive result in your case.  When you enlist his assistance, you can rest assured he has handled similar cases and produced the result you desperately need.

Criminal convictions carry serious consequences and can affect you for the rest of your life.  Do not put your future in the hands of anyone.  Choose a lawyer with inside knowledge who can be trusted to be your protector.

Prince William Criminal Defense

Have you been charged with a felony or misdemeanor offense in Prince William, Virginia?  These charges can carry serious consequences and you need an attorney who can provide a plan to fight the charges that will keep your criminal record clean, avoid jail, and lengthy probation obligations.  You need the best protection possible.  You need the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney with the inside knowledge that comes from being a former prosecutor in Northern Virginia.

Felony Charges in Prince William

In Prince William, Virginia, a felony charge is the most serious crime one can be accused of committing.  A felony is a crime punished by more than one (1) year [or twelve (12) months] in prison.  (Felonies are distinguished from misdemeanors and infractions by the length of punishment).  In addition to the negative stigma of being a convicted felon, a felony conviction will result in a loss of the following rights:

  • Right to vote
  • Hold public office
  • Possess a firearm
  • Sit on a jury; and
  • Serve as a notary public.

Because a felony offense is a serious criminal charge, convictions are often accompanied by long prison terms followed by extensive probationary periods.  A felony conviction will change your life forever!  Because of this, you need an experienced Prince William criminal defense attorney who can help you overcome these accusations.  The following offenses are the most common types of felonies:

  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Rape | Sex Offenses
  • Robbery
  • Fraud| White Collar Crimes
  • Theft | Shoplifting | Grand Larceny
  • Malicious Wounding | Unlawful Wounding
  • Gang | Mob Offenses
  • Abduction | Kidnapping
  • Felony DUI | Felony DWI
  • Firearms Offenses
  • Property Crimes
  • Computer Crimes
  • Forgery | Uttering
  • Credit Card Fraud | Credit Card Theft

Misdemeanor Criminal Defense in Prince William

In Prince William, like the rest of the United States, misdemeanors are a less severe type of criminal offense.  A misdemeanor is punished by no more than 12 months in jail.  Even though misdemeanors are less serious than a felony, it can still be a major impact on your livelihood. The mere presence of a criminal conviction on your record could cost you a job, security clearance, financial aid, and much more.  Most misdemeanors in Prince William, Virginia still carry the risk of jail, a hefty fine, and probation.  A former prosecutor turned Prince William criminal defense attorney can help you avoid all the negatives associated with a criminal conviction.  Examples of misdemeanors in Prince William are:

  • Simple assault [& battery]
  • Possession of marijuana or Schedule III/IV substances
  • Underage Possession of Alcohol
  • Drunk In Public
  • Petit Larceny | Shoplifting | Petty theft
  • Obstruction of justice without force
  • Trespassing
  • Carrying a concealed weapon
  • Minor Property Offenses
  • Domestic Violence (Assault and Batter on a family member)
  • Driving while intoxicated or under the influence [DWI | DUI)
  • Driving on a suspended license | Drive on revoked license

The assistance of an experienced Prince William criminal defense attorney could be the difference between a conviction and acquittal. Attorney Dischley is a proven Prince William criminal defense attorney who will work tirelessly towards getting the charges dropped.

Attorney Dischley has extensive experience handling criminal cases in Prince William, Virginia.  This experience has prepared him to handle your case with the finesse and skill you expect of an experienced criminal attorney. Attorney Dischley is a talented attorney who remains up to speed on the newest laws and cases.  Most importantly, he has spent time on both sides of the courtroom and has the inside knowledge you count on when you are accused of a crime.   He will know the impediments you must overcome to obtain a positive result in your case.  When you enlist his assistance, you can rest assured he has handled similar cases and produced the result you desperately need.

Criminal convictions carry serious consequences and can affect you for the rest of your life.  Do not put your future in the hands of anyone.  Choose a lawyer with inside knowledge who can be trusted to be your protector.

Case Results

A Thought on Case Results

Some Law Firms religiously post their case results as a marketing effort designed to elicit potential clients by viewing their successes. For the the firms that post notable cases and legal accomplishments, this method shows the firms or individual lawyers skill in litigating trial and appellate issues. It also indicates their commitment to crafting new law and their creative legal arguments.

However, other firms post results of day to day cases on matters that have trivial legal significance. These results can often be misleading to potential clients because of the distinct difference in the facts of every criminal case. In my firms infancy I religiously posted its daily case results on Reckless Driving, DWI, drug possession, and other criminal cases handled in Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, Fauquier, Stafford, and many other jurisdictions throughout Virginia.  I quickly realized that despite the warnings and disclaimers we used to comply with the legal ethics rules in Virginia, my clients struggled to understand that every case is different despite my repeated warnings.  That success on one day does not equate to success on another day.

Every criminal case handled in Northern Virginia is different.  The Client is different.  The facts are different.  The officer is different.  The judge is different and the prosecutor is different.  These differences are significant and affect the outcomes.  These differences can be as much of a positive as they can be a negative.  As a former prosecutor, I considered a wide array of circumstances when deciding what my plea offer would be to criminal defendant.  Factors I considered were:

1.  The facts surrounding the offense with a specific emphasis on egregious facts (e.g. in a Reckless Driving by Speed case, I would often ask about traffic and weather conditions.  I would additionally inquire about whether other drivers were affected by the speed; in DWI / DUI cases, I was concerned about whether it was an accident case or not, traffic conditions, and possible interactions with other drivers).

2.  The level of politeness and cooperativeness with law enforcement (Most prosecutors will ask the officer if you were polite and cooperative with them.  This is important because if they are considering making you an offer where you would get a significant benefit of a reduced offense or no jail time, they want to ensure you did not give the officer a hard time or make his job any harder during the interaction).

3.  Personal circumstances to the accused around the time of the offense.  Everyone has life circumstances that can affect their decision making.  For example, in Reckless Driving by Speed cases, a person who may have been rushing their pregnant wife to the hospital or dealing with a medical condition has a more sympathetic situation than a person who was simply late for work.  In DWI cases, sometime the person is experiencing marital problems or a death in the family that affected their decision making.  While these explanations were considered in trying to fashion the appropriate disposition in the case, they were always carefully balanced with the danger to the public that could have or did result from the behavior.

4.  Personal and Professional Background of the Accused:  As a prosecutor, I always found that the more the accused was personalized to me, the more inclined I was to work with the defense attorney to fashion an outcome that differed from my initial impression of the case.  Learning about a person’s accomplishments and life struggles put the offense in perspective.  Also, learning about how it would negatively affect their future was a factor that was carefully considered when deciding appropriate disposition.  Certainly, good people can find themselves in bad situations and their background matters

5.  Mitigation Efforts by the Accused:  In conduction with their background, post-offense mitigation efforts like education courses, community service, substance abuse treatment, and others were considered.  Often times, it showed to me the importance a positive resolution of the matter was to the defendant and helped mitigate any potential punishment I was going to request.  Most prosecutors want to ensure that the accused receives an appropriate amount of punishment and education so they never find themselves in the situation again.

6.  Direction:  Prosecutors are often directed by the elected official to use their discretion sparingly in cases where there is a particular public interest in curtailing the behavior underlying the criminal charge. A good example of this is DWI cases. Many prosecutors offices in Northern Virginia take a very hard line view on DWI cases because of the particular danger and frequency that the public perceives surrounding this act.  Similarly, many prosecutors will not negotiate a reduction on a Reckless Driving case that is over 90 MPH or they adhere to a very common rule in Northern Virginia of imposing a day in jail for every mile over 90. Prosecutors are sensitive to the public perception surrounding these offenses and are duty bound to enforce the law. Prosecutors are advocates for the government just like a defense attorney is an advocate for the accused. However, prosecutors have a duty to do justice but can ethically prosecute any case they reasonable feel is supported by probable cause. While this gives them great discretion in charging decisions, public opinion regarding their plea offers matters. Defense attorneys may call the direction of the prosecutor by higher ups policy, it is more accurately termed as a limit on their discretion regarding certain offenses where the individual prosecutor feels the evidence supports the offense.

As one can see, there are a variety of factors that can affect the disposition in your specific case.  A person traveling at 110 MPH who was rushing home to spend the last few minutes with his mom before she passed may avoid jail time even in those jurisdictions where they adhere to a rigid rule of jail at that speed.  If you saw that result posted on a lawyers website and you were charged with a similar offense, it would give you false hope that your case was going to hopefully be resolved in similar manner.

Attorneys are professionals and any attorney should be able to give you a reasonable expectation as to the result they may be able to produce in any particular case.  However, understand that no attorney can promise that they can produce a particular result.  Ethically, we simply can not make guarantees.  All attorneys should advise you of the maximum punishment for the offense you are charged and discuss with you the legal issues in your case.  A good and trustworthy attorney does not need to lure you in with the results they can produce.  They should be able to establish trust with you and let you know they will fight to achieve the most favorable disposition possible based on a variety of factors.

Reckless Driving in the City of Alexandria, Virginia

If you have been charged with Reckless Driving in Alexandria, Virginia, below are few things you should know before going to court.

Reckless Driving is a Criminal Charge

A conviction of reckless driving in Alexandria is a criminal conviction and will be put on your criminal record.  Once convicted, you will not be eligible for an expungement to clear you criminal record of a reckless driving charge.

Reckless Driving stays on your DMV Record for 11 years

Alexandria reckless driving convictions stay on your DMV record for 11 years and carry six (6) points.  Judges in Alexandria Courts have no control over points. Points in Virginia are assessed administratively by the DMV based on the conviction.

Alexandria Courts MAY allow you to do driving school.

In Alexandria, the prosecutor may offer you the opportunity to do driving school to have your charge reduced. This goes for the judges as well; however, there no guarantee that they will make this offer to you. If they do not, you will be stuck with whatever outcome you end up with at that stage. In Alexandria, if you are offered this program, it would be for a reduction only (typically speeding at the same speed or a slight reduction).  Also, Virginia Law does not permit probation before judgment (PBJ) or other special deferments (e.g. STET docket) on Reckless Driving cases.

Alexandria Prosecutors May Talk to Individuals Charged with Reckless Driving Who Are Not Represented By Counsel

In Alexandria, you may have the opportunity to talk to the officer or prosecutor on your case. Typically, the prosecutor or the law clerk working for the prosecutor will call out the names of people that they are going to make an offer to and ask to speak to them outside the Courtroom. You can speak to your Police Officer in Alexandria, but in a reckless driving case, they will refer you to the prosecutor to speak with. The prosecutor may make you an offer to take driving school in exchange for a reduction.

Unless you are at risk of going to jail, Alexandria judges will not appoint you an Attorney for a Reckless Driving Charge.

In Alexandria, Judges will not appoint counsel for indigent defendants on Reckless Driving charges unless there is the possibility that they will impose a jail sentence.  Everyone’s case is set for an arraignment and everyone in Alexandria is advised of his or her right to an attorney if you are charged with Reckless Driving.

Restricted Licenses Are Not Automatic And Many Times Not Granted On Reckless Driving Charges

If your reckless driving case in Alexandria, warrants a license suspension, a restricted license must be requested from the Court.  To do so, you must fill out an application (Form DC-263 – Application for Restricted License).  However, just because you are prepared to request one, does not mean the judge will grant it.  And even if the judge grants it, listen closely to what he grants.  Many times, Judges in Alexandria will not grant a restricted license on Reckless Driving charges because the speeds or other factors involved in your case. This is simply because they feel the case was severe enough to warrant no driving privileges.

HIRE A LAWYER

In Alexandria, there is no better advice to give for a Reckless Driving charge than hire a lawyer.  There are only two judges that regularly preside over matters in Alexandria Traffic Court. There personalities are quite different from one another and outcomes can vary depending on which one hears your case. A common saying in the legal community is that reasonable minds can, and often do, differ.  Never is this saying more true than amongst the Judges in Alexandria regarding their opinions as to the appropriate punishment on a Reckless Driving case. Punishments can vary immensely between cases.  Factors judges consider are speed at the time of the offense, weather conditions, traffic conditions, time of day, driving record, etc.  Minor differences in any one of these factors could change a case from being one where just a fine is appropriate to one where jail is possible.  Do not take the risk – an experienced traffic lawyer can help.

As a former prosecutor in two Northern Virginia jurisdictions, I have handled hundreds of these cases and can many times opine regarding the anticipated outcome of a Reckless Driving case depending on the facts and circumstances peculiar to your situation.  I offer free telephone consultations for Reckless Driving cases in Alexandria.  Call Today!

DISCLAIMER:  THE INFORMATION PROVIDED THIS WEBSITE IS NOT, NOR IS IT INTENDED TO BE, LEGAL ADVICE. YOU SHOULD RELY ON ANY OF THE INFORMATION CONTAINED ON THIS WEBSITE.  THE MATERIAL IS NOT GUARANTEED TO BE CORRECT, COMPLETE, COMPREHENSIVE OR CURRENT. YOU SHOULD CONSULT AN ATTORNEY FORADVICE REGARDING YOUR INDIVIDUAL SITUATION. CONTACTING US DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP. PLEASE DO NOT SEND ANY CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION TO US UNTIL SUCH TIME AS AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED.

Arlington First Offense DUI and DWI Guide

Arlington County is the second largest city (if it were designated as such) in the Washington, DC area.  With its close proximity to D.C. and flourishing nightlife, it’s no surprise that thousands of people are charged with DUI every year within its 25 square miles.  However, it is important to note that not everyone arrested and charged will be found guilty; commonly referred to as being convicted.

Right now, if you have been charged, you are likely scared.  Scared that you will go to jail, that you will lose your job, and scared of losing your job.  In addition to those fears, you have the embarrassment and social stigma associate with being charged with a drunk driving offense.  With the right lawyer, you too may be able to avoid being convicted of a DUI, DWI, or drunk driving offense in Arlington County.  The facts of the arrest, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) if any, and the procedures the officer did or did not follow could lead to your acquittal.

PUNISHMENT

First, to put your mind at ease, a first offense DUI in Arlington often times does not result in a jail sentence longer than a weekend (or 48 hours) if your BAC is .14 or below, you have a good driving record, you were cooperative with the police, and your driving behavior was not egregious or there was no accident.  In fact, many times, individuals meeting this criteria in Arlington may never see the inside of a jail cell other than the night they are arrested.  Even if you do not meet the aforementioned criteria, do not panic.  A skilled DUI lawyer can help you mitigate or avoid jail and potentially beat your DUI.

Many people do not realize that the penalty for a first offense DUI in Arlington is up to 12 months in jail, a fine not more than $2,500.00, and loss of your privilege to drive for 12 months.  In legal terms, DUIs in Arlington are punished as class 1 misdemeanors (the most serious level of misdemeanor).  Unfortunately, if you are convicted of a DUI, the license suspension is mandatory.  It is typical in Arlington court’s that a restricted license (a license that allows you to drive to and from work, to and from school, to programs required by the court, child day care issues, church on Sunday, etc) will not be granted without the approval of the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP).  Essentially, this means that you must complete the VASAP program, which is mandatory if you are convicted of a 1st offense DUI, before you will be given a restricted license.  Additionally, as a term of the restricted license, you will be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for at least 6 months.

Elevated Blood Alcohol Concentrations (BACs) in Virginia carry specific mandatory minimum jail sentences that neither the prosecutor nor the judge has the discretion to do away with.  If your BAC is greater than a .15 but not higher than a .20, there is a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 5 days.  If your BAC is higher than a .20, there is a 10-day mandatory minimum sentence.  Despite what you may have heard about day for day good time on misdemeanors, this does not apply to mandatory minimum terms of incarceration.  That said, you would have to serve every minute of that 5 day or 10 day sentence if convicted.

FACTORS CONSIDERED BY JUDGE AND PROSECUTOR

The prosecutor, Judge, and arresting officer all play a factor in the outcome of your case and potential punishment.  As one can imagine, ‘reasonable minds can and often will differ’ when it comes to these types of offenses. Some prosecutors are particularly harsh when negotiating these cases and some Judges can be particularly harsh in sentencing.  Conversely, some prosecutors and judges are more understanding to your individual set of circumstances.  One thing that appears to be almost universal is the arresting officer’s perception of your demeanor and attitude the night of your arrest.  If that officer is not going to say nice things about you, negotiating your case is going to be much more difficult.

Other factors prosecutors and Judges consider is your BAC, your driving record, and the facts specific to your case.  Lower BACs tend to accompany lower fines and a jail sentences while the opposite is true the higher the BAC.  As one would expect, a good driving record is certainly a positive factor that the prosecutor and judge will consider.

Finally, the facts of the case, mainly the driving behavior leading up to the arrest is a major factor that is considered.  Cases involving high speeds, accidents, or endangerment to others are going be punished more severely than the case where there is minor or no driving behavior.

In the end, punishments related to your DUI are going to vary based on a variety of factors that include who your judge and prosecutor is on your court date.  An experienced criminal defense attorney who specializes in DUI cases can help you navigate the Arlington Court system and provide the insight and guidance you desperately to mitigate your case effectively.

DUI CHALLENGES

Challenging the stop

In order for a police officer to stop a vehicle, he or she must have reasonable suspicion to believe that a crime is being committed or that a traffic infraction has occurred.  Certain behaviors like speeding, weaving outside the lane, illegal U-turns, and a variety of other traffic offenses, if committed in the officers presence, can lead to a traffic stop.  Even equipment violations, like a broken windshield, expired inspection, or faulty headlights can justify a traffic stop.  Sometimes, even behavior that cannot be characterized as a traffic offense can lead to a DUI stop when coupled with the officer’s training and experience.

Often, once you are pulled over, the first sign that will give the officer reason to believe you are intoxicated will be the odor of alcohol. If that is present, the officer will also look for things like blood shot eyes, inability to follow directions, flushed face, and incoherent or slurred speech.

Attacking the Field Sobriety Tests in Arlington County

If a driver is suspected of DUI, the law enforcement officer may request that the driver perform a series of Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs). Field Sobriety Tests for DUI in Virginia are voluntary, which means that a driver may refuse to perform them. However, bear in mind that the Virginia Supreme Court recently said that a refusal to do field sobriety tests could be considered by the court as consciousness of guilt.  The purposes of these tests are to allow the police officer to assess whether or not the driver is intoxicated.  If, based on these tests, and other factors the officer feels he has probable cause he or she will arrest you.

Common Virginia Field Sobriety Tests

Field Sobriety Testing in Virginia are not standardized.  This leaves the officers in Arlington free to perform tests that he or she is comfortable with so that he or she can determine if you are intoxicated.  Common field sobriety tests in Arlington are the 9-step walk and turn, alphabet, counting, one-legged stand, finger to nose, and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test (HGN).

  1. 9-step walk and turn:  The driver is instructed to walk nine steps, heel to toe, on an imaginary or real line, pivot or turn in a manner proscribed by the officer, and walk nine steps back, heel to toe.
  2. Alphabet: The driver is instructed to say the alphabet from A to Z or from one specific letter to another (such as D to O) without singing.
  3. 1-Legged Stand: The driver is instructed to stand on one leg with the opposite foot raised six inches off the ground while the driver counts aloud for 30 seconds by one thousandths.
  4. Finger to Nose:  The driver is instructed to hold his arms out parallel with the ground, tilt his head back, and told to touch the tip of his nose with the tip of his index finger.
  5. HGN:  The driver is instructed to follow a pen or other stimulus as it is moved from one side of their face to the other.  This test is designed to measure the involuntary movement of the driver’s eyes.

The Preliminary Breath Test in Arlington

Whenever a police office suspects a driver of being under the influence, he or she will often ask the driver to take a PBT (preliminary breath test),usually upon the completion of Field sobriety tests. These results cannot not be used against a driver in a prosecution (guilt or innocence).  However, the PBT can used by the prosecution to establish probable cause to arrest. The results of the PBT can only be introduced for the limited purpose of justifying the arrest at a pre-trial hearing in Arlington.

Challenging the PBT in Arlington is done by closely scrutinizing the warnings given to you prior to its administration, is it an approved device, was it not used in accordance with the instruction manual, and whether or not it had been properly calibrated.  If a fault is found in one of these areas, the officer may not be able to testify as to the devices result and could lead to you winning a suppression motion.

 “Challenging the Cert” – Challenging the BAC Certificate in Arlington

IMPLIED CONSENT

Anyone operating a motor vehicle on a in Virginia has impliedly consented (already agreed) to take the breath alcohol test with the Intoximeter EC/IR II.  In Arlington, the arresting officer will ask you if you want to take the test before administering it.  If you are indecisive or refuse, the officer is required to read you the consequences of refusal.  If you refuse after being advised of the implied consent law and the consequences of refusing the breath test, you can be charged with a second offense entitled refusal.

If the breath test is unavailable or you are physically unable to take the breath test, an officer in Arlington must take you to get a blood test to find out and accurate measurement of alcohol or drugs in the driver’s system.

An unreasonable refusal charge will result, if you are found guilty, in an automatic suspension of your privilege to drive for 12 months in Virginia.  If you are convicted of a refusal charge, you will NOT be eligible for a restricted license.  A first offense is civil; not criminal.  However, if you have a prior refusal offense or a prior DUI, the license suspension is longer and it becomes a criminal charge.

Keep in mind that the suspension does not take affect until you are found guilty of the offense.

Virginia’s implied consent law does not apply if you were driving a vehicle on private property in Arlington.  In these situations, you have not already consented to taking the breath test or blood test and the decision to do so is completely voluntary.  However, the results of the test would still be admissible against you to try and prove the case against you in Arlington.

Breath Tests

Currently in use in Arlington is the Intoximeter EC/IR II.  This is the machine that you took your test on back at the police station or the jail (ADC). These machines are frequently tested and must be calibrated every six months.  When properly maintained and used correctly, the Intoximeter EC/IR 2 can accurately determine a driver’s blood alcohol content (or BAC) at the time the test is given.  However, this device can also make many mistakes.  The Intoximeter EC/IR II may read chemicals other than alcohol and does not have safeguards that prevent high BAC readings as a result of stomach and esophageal health issues.  If it is not maintained or calibrated properly, its accuracy can also be called into question.  Many other complicated issues can arise that can call the accuracy of the device into question in Arlington.  What is important is that you have an attorney that identifies these issues and works to bring them to the forefront.

Blood Tests

Police Officers in Arlington have the discretion, if they believe that you are under the combined influence of drugs and alcohol or the breath test device is unavailable, to take you to have a sample of your blood taken instead of doing a breath test.  Implied consent applies in these situations as well and the consequences are the same for refusing the test.  Blood tests must be administered as provided for in the law of Virginia and many times there are issues relating to the blood draw that could cause the results to be inadmissible.

CONCLUSION

Challenging a DUI in Arlington is possible and the conviction is not imminent.  Even with a properly administered breath or blood test resulting in a valid reading, there are still many challenges that can be brought to win your DUI in Arlington.  The presumption of innocence remains with you throughout the process and Arlington judges will find you not guilty until the government proves their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Arlington DUI lawyers win DUI cases in Arlington courts daily.  Hiring an experienced DUI lawyer who knows how to effectively challenge all aspects of your DUI case is critical to avoiding a conviction.

At times, employing the help of an expert toxicologist to convince the court that the Blood Alcohol Content that was measured does not accurately reflect the amount of alcohol in the driver’s system at the time he or she was driving, may be necessary.

You can not assume you are going to be found guilty, lose your license and go to jail.  The justice system in Arlington must be used to your advantage and weaknesses in the government’s case can be identified to achieve a positive result at trial.  Using those weaknesses coupled with effective factual and legal arguments, you can successfully defend a Arlington DUI charge.

Sometimes prosecutors can be convinced to reduce the fines or jail time in a particular case.  In limited circumstances they can even be persuaded to reduce the charge to something other than Reckless Driving.  However, when negotiations break down, you need to be prepared to go to trial and fight the case.

Fairfax 1st Offense DUI and DWI Guide

Fairfax County ranks amongst one of the wealthiest counties in America.  It is no wonder that approximately 2,800 people are arrested and charged with DUI, DWI, or drunk driving (used interchangeably in Virginia) related offenses every year.  However, it is important to note that not everyone arrested and charged will be found guilty; commonly referred to as being convicted.

Right now, if you have been charged, you are likely scared.  Scared that you will go to jail, that you will lose your job, scared of losing your license, and much more.  With the right lawyer, you may be able to avoid being convicted of a DUI, DWI, or drunk driving offense in Fairfax County.  The facts of the arrest, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) if any, and the procedures the officer did or did not follow could lead to your acquittal.

FAIRFAX DUI PUNISHMENT

First, to put your mind at ease, a first offense DUI in Fairfax often times does not result in a jail sentence longer than a weekend (or 48 hours) As long as your BAC was .14 or below, you have a good driving record, you were cooperative with the police, and your driving behavior was not egregious or there was no accident.  In fact, many times, individuals meeting this criteria in Fairfax may never see the inside of a jail cell other than the night they are arrested.  Even if you do not meet the aforementioned criteria, do not panic.  A skilled DUI lawyer can help you mitigate or avoid jail and potentially beat your DUI.

Many people do not realize that the penalty for a first offense DUI in Fairfax is up to 12 months in jail, a fine not more than $2,500.00, and loss of your privilege to drive for 12 months.  In legal terms, DUIs in Fairfax are punished as class 1 misdemeanors (the most serious level of misdemeanor).  Unfortunately, if you are convicted of a DUI, the license suspension is mandatory.  Furthermore, the court may grant you a restricted license to drive to and from work, to and from school, to programs required by the court, child day care issues, church on Sunday, etc.  Essentially, Virginia law permits the Court to allow individuals to do their ‘necessary’ driving.  Additionally, as a term of the restricted license, you will be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for at least 6 months.

Finally, the court will require you, if convicted, to complete the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP) as a term of your sentence.

Elevated Blood Alcohol Concentrations (BACs) in Virginia carry specific mandatory minimum jail sentences that neither the prosecutor nor the judge have the discretion to do away with.  If your BAC was between a .15 to .20, there is a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 5 days.  If your BAC was higher than a .20, there is a 10 day mandatory minimum sentence.  Despite what you may have heard about day for day good time on misdemeanors, this does not apply to mandatory minimum terms of incarceration.  That said, you will have to serve every minute of that 5 day or 10 day sentence if convicted.

DUI FACTORS CONSIDERED BY JUDGE AND PROSECUTOR IN FAIRFAX

The prosecutor, Judge, and arresting officer all play a factor in the outcome of your case and potential punishment.  As one can imagine, ‘reasonable minds can and often will differ’ when it comes to these types of offenses. Some prosecutors are particularly harsh when negotiating these cases and some Judges can be particularly harsh in sentencing.  Conversely, some prosecutors and judges are more understanding to your individual set of circumstances.  One thing that appears to be almost universal, is the arresting officer’s perception of your demeanor and attitude the night of your arrest.  If that officer is not going to say nice things about you, negotiating your case is going to be much more difficult.

Other factors prosecutors and Judges consider is your BAC, your driving record, and the facts specific to your case.  Lower BACs tend to accompany lower fines and a jail sentences while the opposite is true the higher the BAC.  As one would expect, a good driving record is certainly a positive factor that the prosecutor and judge will consider.

Finally, the facts of the case, mainly the driving behavior leading up to the arrest is a major factor that is considered.  Cases involving high speeds, accidents, or endangerment to others are going be punished more severely than the case where there is minor or no driving behavior.

In the end, punishments related to your DUI are going to vary based on a variety of factors that include who your judge and prosecutor are on your court date.  An experienced criminal defense attorney who specializes in DUI cases can help you navigate the Fairfax Court system and provide the insight and guidance you desperately to mitigate your case effectively.

FAIRFAX DUI CHALLENGES

Challenging the Stop

In order for a police officer to stop a vehicle, he or she must have reasonable suspicion to believe that a crime is being committed or that a traffic infraction has occurred.  Certain behaviors like speeding, weaving outside the lane, illegal u-turns, and a variety of other traffic offenses, if committed in the officers presence, can lead to a traffic stop.  Even equipment violations, like a broken windshield, expired inspection, or faulty headlights can justify a traffic stop.  Sometimes, even behavior that can not be characterized as a traffic offense can lead to a DUI stop when coupled with the officer’s training and experience.

Often, once you are pulled over, the first sign that will give the officer reason to believe you are intoxicated will be the odor of alcohol. If that is present, the officer will also look for things like blood shot eyes, inability to follow directions, flushed face, and incoherent or slurred speech.

Attacking the Field Sobriety Tests in Fairfax County

If a driver is suspected of DUI, the law enforcement officer may request that the driver perform a series of Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs). Field Sobriety Tests for DUI in Virginia are voluntary, which means that a driver may refuse to perform them. However, bear in mind that the Virginia Supreme Court recently said that a refusal to do field sobriety tests could be considered by the court as consciousness of guilt.  The purposes of these tests are to allow the police officer to assess whether or not the driver is intoxicated.  If, based on these tests, and other factors the officer feels he has probable cause he or she will arrest you.

Common Virginia Field Sobriety Tests

Field Sobriety Testing in Virginia are not standardized.  This leaves the officers in Fairfax free to perform tests that he or she is comfortable with so that he or she can determine if you are intoxicated.  Common field sobriety tests in Fairfax are the 9-step walk and turn, alphabet, counting, one-legged stand, finger to nose, and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test (HGN).

  1. 9-step walk and turn:  The driver is instructed to walk nine steps, heel to toe, on an imaginary or real line, pivot or turn in a manner proscribed by the officer, and walk nine steps back, heel to toe.
  2. Alphabet: The driver is instructed to say the alphabet from A to Z or from one specific letter to another (such as D to O) without singing.
  3. 1-Legged Stand: The driver is instructed to stand on one leg with the opposite foot raised six inches off the ground while the driver counts aloud for 30 seconds by one thousandths.
  4. Finger to Nose:  The driver is instructed to hold his arms out parallel with the ground, tilt his head back, and told to touch the tip of his nose with the tip of his index finger.
  5. HGN:  The driver is instructed to follow a pen or other stimulus as it is moved from one side of their face to the other.  This test is designed to measure the involuntary movement of the driver’s eyes.

The Preliminary Breath Test in Fairfax

Whenever a police office suspects a driver of being under the influence, he or she will often ask the driver to take a PBT (preliminary breath test),usually upon the completion of Field sobriety tests. These results cannot not be used against a driver in a prosecution (guilt or innocence).  However, the PBT can used by the prosecution to establish probable cause to arrest. The results of the PBT can only be introduced for the limited purpose of justifying the arrest at a pre-trial hearing in Fairfax.

Challenging the PBT in Fairfax is done by closely scrutinizing the warnings given to you prior to its administration, is it an approved device, was it not used in accordance with the instruction manual, and whether or not it had been properly calibrated.  If a fault is found in one of these areas, the officer may not be able to testify as to the devices result and could lead to you winning a suppression motion.

“Challenging the Cert” – Challenging the BAC Certificate in Fairfax

IMPLIED CONSENT

Anyone operating a motor vehicle on a in Virginia has impliedly consented (already agreed) to take the breath alcohol test with the Intoximeter EC/IR II.  In Fairfax, the arresting officer will ask you if you want to take the test before administering it.  If you are indecisive or refuse, the officer is required to read you the consequences of refusal.  If you refuse after being advised of the implied consent law and the consequences of refusing the breath test, you can be charged with a second offense entitled refusal.

If the breath test is unavailable or you are physically unable to take the breath test, an officer in Fairfax must take you to get a blood test to find out and accurate measurement of alcohol or drugs in the driver’s system.

An unreasonable refusal charge will result, if you are found guilty, in an automatic suspension of your privilege to drive for 12 months in Virginia.  If you are convicted of a refusal charge, you will NOT be eligible for a restricted license.  A first offense is civil; not criminal.  However, if you have a prior refusal offense or a prior DUI, the license suspension is longer and it becomes a criminal charge.

Keep in mind that the suspension does not take affect until you are found guilty of the offense.

Virginia’s implied consent law does not apply if you were driving a vehicle on private property in Fairfax.  In these situations, you have not already consented to taking the breath test or blood test and the decision to do so is completely voluntary.  However, the results of the test would still be admissible against you to try and prove the case against you in Fairfax.

Breath Tests

Currently in use in Fairfax is the Intoximeter EC/IR II.  This is the machine that you took your test on back at the police station or the jail (ADC). These machines are frequently tested and must be calibrated every six months.  When properly maintained and used correctly, the Intoximeter EC/IR 2 can accurately determine a driver’s blood alcohol content (or BAC) at the time the test is given.  However, this device can also make many mistakes.  The Intoximeter EC/IR II may read chemicals other than alcohol and does not have safeguards that prevent high BAC readings as a result of stomach and esophageal health issues.  If it is not maintained or calibrated properly, its accuracy can also be called into question.  Many other complicated issues can arise that can call the accuracy of the device into question in Fairfax.  What is important is that you have an attorney that identifies these issues and works to bring them to the forefront.

Blood Tests

Police Officers in Fairfax have the discretion, if they believe that you are under the combined influence of drugs and alcohol or the breath test device is unavailable, to take you to have a sample of your blood taken instead of doing a breath test.  Implied consent applies in these situations as well and the consequences are the same for refusing the test.  Blood tests must be administered as provided for in the law of Virginia and many times there are issues relating to the blood draw that could cause the results to be inadmissible.

CONCLUSION

Challenging a DUI in Fairfax is possible and the conviction is not imminent.  Even with a properly administered breath or blood test resulting in a valid reading, there are still many challenges that can be brought to win your DUI in Fairfax.  The presumption of innocence remains with you throughout the process and Fairfax judges will find you not guilty until the government proves their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Fairfax DUI lawyers win DUI cases in Fairfax courts daily.  Hiring an experienced DUI lawyer who knows how to effectively challenge all aspects of your DUI case is critical to avoiding a conviction.

At times, employing the help of an expert toxicologist to convince the court that the Blood Alcohol Content that was measured does not accurately reflect the amount of alcohol in the driver’s system at the time he or she was driving, may be necessary.

You can not assume you are going to be found guilty, lose your license and go to jail.  The justice system in Fairfax must be used to your advantage and weaknesses in the government’s case can be identified to achieve a positive result at trial.  Using those weaknesses coupled with effective factual and legal arguments, you can successfully defend a Fairfax DUI charge.

Sometimes prosecutors can be convinced to reduce the fines or jail time in a particular case.  In limited circumstances they can even be persuaded to reduce the charge to something other than Reckless Driving.  However, when negotiations break down, you need to be prepared to go to trial and fight the case.