DWI-Can you deny (tests)?
DWI: Can You Refuse Sobriety Tests?
With the warmer months approaching, many of us want to take advantage of the great local wineries and breweries in the Commonwealth of Virginia for a fun and relaxing social experience. Whether due to distance or availability during peak times, in many areas Uber, Lyft, or taxi cabs are still not a practical alternative to driving yourself. And while almost everyone goes into those situations with the best intentions of strictly limiting their alcohol intake, it’s human nature that our best intentions oft go awry. Many people find themselves on the drive home being pulled over by law enforcement for a minor traffic infraction. It’s at that point those alcoholic beverages come back to haunt them, and before they know it a routine speeding ticket has turned into a criminal DWI charge.
The good news is, Virginia drivers who are stopped by law enforcement on suspicion of DWI have solid legal ways to defend themselves from such charges. Our criminal justice system does provide significant rights to persons suspected of committing crimes. But these rights are useless unless you use them! Understanding your rights, and knowing how best to exercise them, is critical. This is especially true when it comes to DWI charges, since DWI is a hyper-technical area of the law. In DWI cases, one such legal defense involves knowing when and how to refuse roadside sobriety tests.
What is a DWI?
Before embarking on the discussion of how to refuse roadside sobriety tests in Virginia, it may be instructive to provide drivers with a working definition of DWI.
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, law enforcement officials often use both the terms driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) to describe the act of operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or some other psychoactive substance. That said, the term DWI also refers to individuals who operate motor vehicles while having blood alcohol levels (BAC) higher than 0.08 percent.
The penalties for being found guilty of a DWI in Virginia are increasingly severe. First-time offenders face misdemeanor charges which can result in fines, license suspensions, and possible jail time. Subsequent offenses often result in mandatory jail time, loss of driving privileges, and even larger fines. These penalties can affect the careers and even the family lives of those who are charged with such offenses.
What Rights do Virginia Drivers Have?
While Virginia drivers who are pulled over by the police should comply with most law enforcement directives, these drivers are not required to say or do anything that may incriminate them. As such, Virginia drivers have the right to refuse roadside breathalyzer tests and they also have the right to turn down field sobriety tests. These tests may include:
- Alphabet tests
- Finger to nose tests
- One-legged stand
- Counting tests
- 9-step walk and turn
- Follow a pen with your eyes
Are There Consequences for Refusing These Tests?
Virginia drivers should realize that the results of any test given by a law enforcement officer on a roadside will likely be used against them in a court of law. Because of this fact, it may be in the interest of some drivers to refuse sobriety tests and take their chances in court. That being said, drivers who turn down field sobriety tests face no negative sanction but chemical tests at law enforcement facilities may result in a charge of unreasonable refusal. This charge can result in civil license forfeiture for up to 1-year for first offenses, while subsequent offenses carry criminal penalties that include possible jail time.
How Can Dischley Law, PLLC Help?
DWI charges in Virginia are no laughing matter, and can carry severe criminal and financial penalties. As such, drivers who wish to successfully fight such charges need the help of skilled and experienced DWI lawyers.
Dischley Law, PLLC is just such a firm. Attorney Dischley and Attorney Sherlock have worked as both prosecutors and as defense attorneys. Combined, they have close to 25 years’ experience working with individuals charged with DWI’s. With offices in Fairfax, Manassas, and Alexandria, Dischley Law, PLLC offers easy access to critical legal services.
Don’t let a DWI or refusal charge turn your life upside down. Contact the DWI attorneys that police officers, government agents, attorneys, and executives call to defend them on DWI’s – Dischley Law, PLLC. Call us today for a free 30-minute consultation