DUI/DWI
Aggressive & Innovative Defense Strategies

Virginia DUI Attorneys

Ferocious Representation for DUI & DWI Charges in Manassas, Fairfax & Beyond

Virginia’s drunk driving laws are some of the toughest in the country. Recent law changes allow for drunk driving cases to be deferred and ultimately dismissed; however, this provision is in the sole discretion of the prosecutor.  Prosecutors rarely invoke this provision of the law on drunk driving cases.  Therefore, the only way to avoid a conviction is to find an attorney to effectively fight the charge. This requires knowledge of the system and the law, skillful maneuvering in the courtroom, and years of experience maneuvering complex pitfalls and landmines.

To request a confidential consultation with a DUI lawyer in Manassas, contact Dischley Law today.

Virginia Drunk Driving Laws – DUI vs. DWI

DWI (Driving while intoxicated) and DUI (Driving under the influence) are interchangeable terms in Virginia. Virginia does not differentiate between a DWI and DUI and both terms are used to describe the offense of drunk driving in Virginia. However, the differences between DWI and DUI are noteworthy. 

  • Driving under the influence means that you were driving while under the influence of alcohol or another intoxicant after having consumed enough of that substance to observably affects your manner, speech, muscular movement, disposition, and general appearance. 
  • Driving while intoxicated, on the other hand, simply means that you were driving with a blood alcohol concentration higher than a .08. Because of the law in Virginia, you can end up with a Virginia drunk driving charge even with a BAC of .06 or .07.

Understanding Drunk Driving Charges 

Chances are, if you are reading this page, you have been charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Virginia under § 18.2-266 of the Code of Virginia. The charge of DWI is very serious in Virginia and the punishment can involve jail time, high fines, required education classes, lengthy loss of license periods, and the requirement that you install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. Subsequent convictions (e.g. 2nd, 3rd, & 4th offenses) and elevated blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) carry even more serious penalties. Everything you have worked for could be in jeopardy, including your job, your security clearance, and your livelihood.

Choose a Qualified & Experienced DUI Defender

When people think of DUI or DWI charges in Virginia, they think of someone driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above a .08. While a vast majority of Virginia DUIs deal with BACs of a .08 or above, most people do not realize that you can be charged and convicted of a Virginia DWI offense with a BAC as low as .06. In fact, you can be convicted of DWI with no BAC at all.

Don’t trust your future and all you have worked for to just any attorney. Any attorney can plead you guilty to an offense, but only a select few will truly fight to keep you from being convicted. If you are charged with a DUI, you need the help of an experienced Virginia DUI attorney. Attorney Dischley and Attorney O’Brien have both been prosecutors in two Virginia jurisdictions and know how to challenge the technical, legal, and procedural issues affiliated with Virginia DWI offenses. Together, they have handled hundreds of DWI cases and know that the result of every case he handles matters. 

Dischley Law, PLLC is available to help you with your DWI defense in Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Prince William, Loudoun, Fauquier, Stafford, Spotsylvania, Culpeper, Rappahannock, Clarke, Herndon, Vienna, Fairfax City, and U.S. District Court in Alexandria.

A DWI Defense Team That Knows What You Are Up Against

Virginia DWI cases often rise and fall on the testimony of the arresting officer. He or she will be the primary witness against you. But videos are becoming increasingly more important as the proverbial “silent witness”. These officers receive many hours of training on DWI arrest procedures, field sobriety testing, and breath alcohol analysis. Furthermore, they are trained and taught how to “effectively” testify in court. Local police officers are trained in a variety of different academies (Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Academy in Ashburn, Fairfax County Criminal Justice Academy in Chantilly, Prince William County Criminal Justice Academy in Nokesville, and the Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy in Fredericksburg and Middletown). If you are in Federal Court, the officer likely attended the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glenco, GA.

Your case (unless there is a video) is going to hinge on that officer’s ability to accurately recall the facts of your case to the prosecutor (for negotiations) and to the judge (at trial). This testimony is often affected by their training, experience, and ability to articulate. Some officers are excellent at relaying the facts accurately to the court and describing, in detail, their observations that lead to your arrest. Conversely, some officers are lacking in this area despite having recorded the information in their notes and report.

As award winning criminal defense attorneys and former prosecutors, Attorneys Dischley and O’Brien know how a case can hinge on a single witness’s ability to testify. They understand that what an officer does not say is as important as those things that are said. This experience is priceless when the prosecutor is struggling to get facts out of the police officer.

What Your DUI or DWI Case Needs to Succeed

In Virginia DWI cases, the prosecution, like in all criminal cases, is required to prove your guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Below is an excerpt from a Virginia Jury Model Jury Instructions that explains the concept of “beyond a reasonable doubt”:

This standard does not require proof beyond all possible doubt; nor is the Commonwealth required to disprove every conceivable circumstance of innocence. However, suspicion or probability of guilt is not enough for a conviction. A reasonable doubt is a doubt based on sound judgment after a full and impartial consideration of all the evidence in the case.

To meet its burden, the Commonwealth is going to rely on the officer’s observation regarding your driving behavior (e.g. weaving, erratic lane changes, speeding, etc.), general appearance, gait, coordination, statements, and the results of any chemical analysis performed. All of these observations and scientific evidence are used to prove the accused was “under the influence.” In Virginia, a fact-finder is permitted to infer that a person is under the influence if their BAC is .08 or higher. This is permissible inference can be negated by proof to the contrary (e.g. excellent performance on Field Sobriety Tests). In cases where there is a BAC, the Commonwealth or government will place a lot of emphasis on the breath certificate. This is because this evidence tends to be the most conclusive of guilt if the science and machinery used to produce this result is not properly challenged. Technical arguments are critical to overcoming this inference.

Attorneys Dischley and O’Brien handle each DWI case they retain personally and understand what is at stake for their clients. Any attorney can plead a client guilty; however, that is not the aim of the representation undertaken Dischley Law. No case is cut and dry or black and white. Every case has legal issues that are identifiable to a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney. Furthermore, as any former prosecutor knows, nothing can be taken for granted and sometimes things just do not go the prosecutor’s way. This means that prosecutors can make mistakes, struggle to admit a piece of evidence, have a hard time phrasing a question that day, plus many more trial problems. Many things can occur at trial that, if identified properly, can be used to your advantage.

Defense Against Field Sobriety Tests

While many cases involve a BAC reading, there are also cases where there is no BAC. These cases are often associated with a refusal charge or occurred on private property. When there is no BAC, the Commonwealth must prove that a person is under the influence of alcohol. A person is under the influence when that person has consumed enough alcoholic beverages to affect his or her manner, speech, disposition, muscular movement, general appearance, or behavior as to be apparent to common observation. Field sobriety tests are critical to the prosecution's case in these circumstances.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) developed standardized field sobriety tests that, when conducted properly, can predict, to a certain percentage of accuracy, that a person has a BAC over a .08. 

These Standardized Field Sobriety tests are:

  • The Walk and Turn Test
  • The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (HGN)
  • The One-Leg Stand Test

These tests are judged by the number of clues present. If a person shows certain clues, an officer may be able to accurately predict intoxication.

Attacking Field Sobriety Tests and the observations of the officer are critical to challenging a DWI charge in Virginia. Effective challenges to Field Sobriety Testing can result in the case being thrown out for lack of probable cause to arrest or a failure to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Ironically, Virginia does not require that officers use Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, and, at trial, the officer’s independent opinion as to whether the accused passed or failed the test is inadmissible as a conclusory opinion. (In Federal Court, the officer can opine as to whether or not a person is intoxicated as a result of these tests.) What the court is looking at is the person’s performance on the tests as they relate to intoxication. Courts are required to look at the “totality of the circumstances” when judging the indicators of intoxication. Specifically, a judge will want to hear testimony about your balance, ability to follow instructions, demeanor, and appearance.

The Significance of Breath Certificates in DWI Cases

Virginia courts place a lot of emphasis on the admission of the breath certificate in a DWI case. Almost any DWI is winnable without a certificate of analysis. But when there is a certificate of analysis in a case, this scientific evidence is heavily relied upon to prove intoxication. It is the piece of evidence that tilts the scale in favor of the government on the beyond a reasonable doubt spectrum. From a defense perspective, the focus is on keeping this certificate out of evidence. The basis for these challenges is vast and experience plays a major role. If the certificate stays out, your chances of winning your DWI charge improve immensely.

How You Benefit from Hiring a Former DWI Prosecutor

Before entering the legal field of criminal defense, Attorneys Dischley and O’Brien were highly successful DWI prosecutors. They both successfully prosecuted contentious DWIs against some of the best defense attorneys in Northern Virginia. Through this experience, they learned what defenses work, what defenses do not, and how best to present them. Attorneys Dischley and O’Brien were both trained by the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Forensic Science on all matters related to Virginia DWI cases. Furthermore, both have trained Law Enforcement in all aspects of drunk driving identification, arrest, and prosecution. Through this training, Dischley Law is able to analyze all aspects of the DWI arrest to identify critical issues that could lead to your acquittal. From the initial stop to the arrest, our attorneys will closely scrutinize the Commonwealth’s case to identify flaws in the traffic stop, administration of field sobriety tests, and the arrest process. Attacking the officer’s observations, field testing, and procedures are crucial to crushing the prosecutor’s case and keeping the breath certificate out of evidence.

A DWI could ruin everything you've worked for in your life. It can adversely affect security clearances, immigration issues, and your livelihood. You have no choice–you must fight your case. Having a clean record and a lot to lose is not going to get you the result you need. Having an experienced DWI attorney will.

What to Do If You've Been Charged with a Drunk Driving Offense

A pending drunk driving charge can cause a lot of stress and anxiety because the outcome is uncertain. Our Virginia DUI attorneys handle hundreds of Virginia drunk driving cases a year. When everything you worked for is on the line, trust in a proven fighter and defender.

Dischley Law, PLLC leverages its experience as former prosecutors, U.S. Military (Marines), and police legal advisors to challenge the legal, procedural, and technical aspects of Virginia DWI cases. Indeed, we produce unprecedented results in every case.

What you need to know about your DWI case in Virginia:

Our Manassas DUI attorneys use our up-to-date knowledge and skill in handling Virginia drunk driving cases. We understand the defenses and the strategies to accomplish your goals in each and every case! In the end, we have the experience that only comes with handling DWI cases in Virginia for close to 20 years as both prosecutors and defense attorneys.

Call us at (703) 215-9337 today to schedule a free consultation with our firm.

MEET OUR TEAM

OVER 30 YEARS COMBINED LEGAL EXPERIENCE

  • “I chose Dischley Law in part because they are a Veteran-owned firm, but also because of their competitive fees and the compassion they demonstrated as I described my case during the consultation”

    - C.G.
  • “After receiving a Reckless Driving summons in Fairfax, VA, I contacted a number of lawyers. I found my conversation with Dischley Law to be the most helpful and comforting.”

    - R.M.
  • “You will not find a more caring and proactive attorney in your search for effective representation. David gets right to the heart of the case, finds the defenses, and presents them at the right time.”

    - J.M.
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Responsive. Assertive. Accomplished.

More reasons to Choose Our Firm:

  • We've Served Our Country & Community Through Military Service & As Former Prosecutors
  • We Have Over 30 Years of Combined Legal Experience
  • We Are Boutique Firm With Large Firm Experience & Reputation
  • We Use Knowledge, Strategy & Innovation to Produce Results
  • Our Firm Is Top-Rated & Award-Winning
  • Your Initial Consultation Is Free & Confidential

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