Category Archives: Alexandria

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

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!

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!

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