LAW OFFICES OF RANDALL SOUSA
FAIRFAX DUI LAWYER
FAIRFAX DUI LAWYER
Innocent people are charged with crimes and it happens more often than you would think. Especially for crimes such as assault. Unfortunate accidents happen. People act in self-defense. Many times, people are arrested on assault charges based only off the complaining party’s story. The police have not heard your side of the story yet, but you should not give them your side of the story until you’ve consulted with a Fairfax assault and battery lawyer first.
HOW WE FIGHT FOR YOU: DUI DEFENSES
DUI convictions bring a ton of unforeseen problems along with them. In this section, we discuss in detail the ways we fight DUI charges. But without a Fairfax DUI lawyer, you will likely not have the knowledge, experience, or sophistication to properly assert these defenses. That is why if you have been charged with DUI, call our office today and we will fight relentlessly to help you obtain the best outcome possible.
The "Mouth Alcohol" Defense
When law enforcement performs a traffic stop based on a suspected DUI, the driver of the vehicle will usually be required to perform a breathalyzer test. Breathalyzer devices are supposed to collect air from deep in your lungs. Yet, it is not uncommon for these readings to be inaccurate as a result of a malfunction, an operator error, or the presence of mouth alcohol. This article discusses breathalyzer errors which occur as a result of the presence of mouth alcohol and the arguments your Fairfax DUI attorney can make on your behalf.
What is Mouth Alcohol?
The presence of mouth alcohol may cause an erroneous breathalyzer reading when, for example, a person has used an alcohol-based mouthwash before a breathalyzer test. When this happens, the machine may yield a high rating based solely upon the alcohol content of a person’s breath – not the alcohol content of their blood. Thus, the machine will show the person is legally intoxicated even if they are completely sober. Indeed, after rinsing one’s mouth with Scope or Listerine, a person’s BAC can read as high as twice the legal limit even though they are completely sober.
Some other common causes of mouth alcohol include:
- Prescription or over-the-counter drugs which contain alcohol
- A hernia
- Gastroesophogeal Reflux Disease (GERD)
- Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease/Gingivitis)
Can My Fairfax DUI Attorney Use Mouth Alcohol as a Defense?
When it comes to PAS tests, a Fairfax DUI attorney might be able to call the results into question by invoking the mouth alcohol defense. When you speak with your Fairfax DUI attorney, disclose any medical conditions you may have, as well as whether you have had any dental work done and whether you use any mouthwash such as Scope or Listerine. Don’t forget to mention whether you have gastrointestinal issues or take any medications. These issues could very well account for some or all of the alcohol in your system. While mouth alcohol can make breath tests unreliable, an aggressive, intelligent, and knowledgeable Fairfax DUI attorney will be the person capable of persuasively presenting that argument to a jury.
Is The Concept of Mouth Alcohol Complicated?
In a word: YES! The medical and scientific terminology associated with mouth alcohol defenses is extremely complicated, and that is why it is so imperative to retain a knowledgeable Fairfax DUI attorney who understands this defense and has experience presenting it to a jury. To give you an example of how complicated the mouth alcohol defense can be, let me try to explain it without explaining all the complicated medical terminology.
Many times, Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (“GERD”) is responsible for the presence of mouth alcohol. GERD is caused by an open lower esophageal sphincter (“LES”) A person with an open LES condition has a constant reflux/regurgitation that is continually injecting stomach alcohol into the mouth. Under these circumstances, mouth alcohol will remain as long as there is alcohol in the stomach. This condition will interfere with breath-alcohol testing that relies upon uncontaminated alveolar air from the lungs for accurate results. Unprocessed or non-metabolized alcohol in the stomach is many times greater than that which has been metabolized and is coming from the lungs (e.g., a person with just 0.005 percent alcohol in the stomach can produce a breath-alcohol test result of 0.15 from GERD).
Thus, a person with only .005 level of alcohol in the stomach can produce a breath-alcohol test result of .15. This would cause a false reading. If you can produce evidence of an acid-reflux (GERD) condition, it is enough to establish reasonable doubt about the accuracy of breath-alcohol readings. Yet, it would take a knowledgeable Fairfax DUI attorney to make this argument to a jury in terms they can understand.
Contact a Fairfax DUI Attorney Today
Call the Law Offices of Randall Sousa today for a free consultation with a Fairfax DUI Attorney and we can help you determine if the mouth alcohol defense would be viable argument in your case. 571-354-6164
Rising Blood-Alcohol Defense
In Virginia, it is unlawful to drive a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) at or above .08. But simply drinking before a person drives, in and of itself, is not illegal – so long as your BAC while you are driving is below .08. As a Fairfax DUI lawyer, I am well aware of how it takes most people about one hour to reach their highest blood alcohol concentration from the time of their last drink. Thus, having a drink just prior to driving may not negatively affect your immediate capability to safely operate a motor vehicle. In this respect, a BAC reading of .10 conducted thirty minutes AFTER a driver has stopped driving may actually indicate that the driver was below .08 BAC at the time they were pulled over.
How Does a Rising BAC Defense Work?
To be sure, DUI arrests are generally predicated on breathalyzer or field sobriety tests which are conducted sometime after the motorist has stopped driving. Thus, if you were to drink two shots of tequila immediately before getting into your car, the full effects likely won’t start kicking in until about 30-45 minutes later. But by the time law enforcement gets around to actually administering a breathalyzer test, the full effects of those two shots have kicked in. Sometimes, DUI investigations are conducted after the driver has already returned to their home. An example of such a situation would be when officers respond to a hit-and-run, and eventually locate the vehicle parked at the suspect’s home. At that point, BAC would not be indicative of the suspect’s BAC at the time he was driving. Additionally, the suspect may have had some more to drink after returning home.
Remember: the Commonwealth must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you were driving with a BAC at or above .08. A knowledgeable, skilled Fairfax DUI lawyer can figure out how to cast doubt on the Commonwealth’s case. By calling its breathalyzer results into question and explaining that rising BAC caused your breathalyzer results to not accurately reflect your BAC at the time you were driving, a good Fairfax DUI lawyer can cast doubt on the Commonwealth’s case. If you’ve been arrested for DUI, contact the Law Offices of Randall Sousa now for a Free Consultation with a Fairfax DUI lawyer in Virginia. 571-354-6164.
An Example of How a Fairfax DUI Lawyer Can Use the Rising BAC Defense
Lisa is driving home from her favorite restaurant in Downtown Fairfax. After dinner, Lisa drank two glasses of wine and had an Irish coffee for dessert. Immediately after dinner, she leaves the restaurant and is pulled over by Virginia State Police for following another car too closely on I-66. The VSP officer smells alcohol on Lisa’s breath and asks her how much she’s had to drink. Because having a drink before driving is completely legal so long as the driver’s BAC is below .08, Lisa admits to having three drinks right after dinner.
Lisa is asked to step out of her vehicle and perform a number of field sobriety tests. During these tests, Lisa was unable to keep her balance or walk in a straight line because she was wearing high heel shoes. The officer asks Lisa to take a seat on the curb. Roughly fifteen minutes later – which is 30 minutes since Lisa last drove – the officer asks her to blow into a breathalyzer. The breathalyzer yields two different results – one .077 and the other .080, three minutes later. Lisa is arrested for DUI and provides a breath sample at the police station. This time, Lisa blows a .10. The Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Fairfax County reviews the case and decides to file DUI charges at the Fairfax County Courthouse.
Lisa’s hires a Fairfax DUI lawyer who asks her questions about her drinking pattern, her general balance, what she ate, if she’s had dental work done, her alcohol tolerance, her health history, and much more. Upon obtaining Lisa’s answers, it becomes clear what happened: Lisa consumed three drinks immediately before getting in her car and driving home. But because it takes two hours for the body to completely absorb the alcohol, Lisa could not have been impaired by the time she was pulled over – which was shortly after she left the restaurant. Additionally, the different breathalyzer results indicate that her BAC was below .08 at the time of driving even though her breath test at the police station yielded a .10 result two hours later. Lisa’s Fairfax DUI lawyer calls an expert witness to explain the complicated scientific elements of rising BAC in a way that a jury can understand. Lisa is found not guilty of DUI by the jury.
Should I Take Field Sobriety Tests?
Most DUI arrest reports dedicate an entire page to Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs). These tests were designed to measure a driver’s impairment, but the efficacy of these tests are continuously being called into question. For example, officers will use these tests to obtain “objective” signs of impairment used to justify a DUI arrest. The problem, however, is that these signs of impairment can also be explained by a host of other factors. On this page, I explain what these tests are, how they work, and how a Fairfax DUI attorney can help you assert the necessary defenses to potentially avoid the consequences of a DUI conviction.
Fairfax DUI Lawyer Discusses Field Sobriety Tests
The 3 most well-known field sobriety tests are as follows: (1) the one-leg stand test; (2) the walk and turn test; and (3) the horizontal gaze test. We shall discuss each one of these tests in turn.
The One-Leg Stand Test
The procedure for this test requires an officer to instruct the suspect to stand with one foot six inches off the ground while keeping their hands and arms at their side for thirty seconds and counting aloud by thousands (“One thousand and one, one thousand and two,” and so on). In my time as a Fairfax DUI lawyer, I have learned precisely what signs of impairment an officer is looking for. These signs include hopping to maintain balance, swaying, or raising one’s arms from their side to maintain balance. If a suspect exhibits only one of these signs, there is enough evidence to support probable cause of impairment.
As a Fairfax DUI lawyer, I take great exception to this test being used as an indicator of impairment. The reason why I dislike the one-leg stand test is that it has been proven to only have an accuracy rate of 65%! Given that there is almost a 40% chance of error, it would not be unwise to refuse to perform this (and other) field sobriety tests.
The Walk and Turn Test
Like the one-leg stand test, the walk and turn test was intended to measure a suspect’s ability to maintain their balance, walk in a straight line, and follow directions. To perform the test, the suspect will take nine heel-to-toe steps along a straight line during which time they must keep their arms to their side and count each step out loud. While the suspect performs this test, the officer is attempting to observe if the suspect is having difficulty keeping their balance; stops walking in order to regain their balance; takes an incorrect number of steps; or fails to walk the line heel-to-toe.
To be sure, an officer’s instructions can sometimes be unclear, and obviously, in my time as a Fairfax DUI lawyer, I have seen situations where problems with a person’s balance, anxiety, health issues, wind, being frightened or nervous, as well as a host of other environmental factors, have negatively affected performance. Like the one-leg stand test, the walk and turn test is hardly accurate. In fact, it has been shown to be accurate only 68% of the time. The high chance for inaccurate findings of impairment is why any good Fairfax DUI attorney would recommend that a person exercise their right to refuse this and other standardized field sobriety tests.
The Horizontal Gaze Test
The horizontal gaze test involves an officer asking a suspect to follow a slowly moving object – like a pen or flashlight – horizontally with their eyes. While doing this, the suspect’s eyes will involuntarily wiggle when the eyes are required to strain at certain high peripheral angles. However, when a person is intoxicated, the wiggle in their eye occurs at much lower peripheral angles. The officer observes the eyes of the suspect while the suspect follows the object. The officer will be looking to determine whether the suspect’s eyes are jerking or bouncing while following the pen or flashlight; whether the eyes are following the moving object smoothly; and whether the eyes begin to jerk or bounce within 45 degrees of center.
Like other standardized field sobriety tests, the horizontal gaze test is subject to only a 77% accuracy rate. Moreover, being nervous, health or vision issues, and other external environmental stimulus can raise the likelihood of the test’s inaccuracy. At the end of the day, however, this is the most accurate of all the field sobriety tests, but generally, your Fairfax DUI lawyer will likely advise you to decline to take this test as well.
Additional Field Sobriety Tests
In addition to the aforementioned field sobriety tests, an officer might request a suspect to perform some other non-standard field sobriety tests such as counting backwards; reciting the alphabet; touching their finger to their nose; or performing the finger tap test (where you are asked to touch the tip of each of your fingers to the tip of your thumb).
During the traffic stop, the officer will also look for slurred speech, poor balance, flushed/red face, glassy or bloodshot eyes, or an odor of alcohol. Yet, simply because an officer observes any of these symptoms does not mean that the suspect is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Your Fairfax DUI lawyer will attempt to obtain booking photos and dash camera footage to challenge the officer’s observations of impairment. Alternatively, the officer’s observation of any of the aforementioned symptoms may be correct, but these symptoms may be due to factors other than impairment or intoxication. Police officer are neither doctors nor scientists, and many police officers lack the sophistication and training to understand the complicated science behind BAC testing and observations of impairment.
Contact a Fairfax DUI Lawyer Today for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with DUI in Virginia, a Fairfax DUI lawyer can help you minimize the potentially negative impact of the evidence against you by asserting several complicated defenses. Call the Law Offices of Randall Sousa now for a free consultation with a Fairfax DUI attorney. We can work together to help you obtain the best possible outcome in your DUI case. 571-354-6164
Breathalyzer Inaccuracy Defense
As a Fairfax DUI lawyer, it is my job to debunk the improper assumption that breathalyzers are an accurate tool to determine whether a driver is DUI. The reality is that breathalyzers are not very accurate at all. The reason why is that breath alcohol level is inherently subject to a number of variables which make readings inaccurate. The only consistent way to correctly determine BAC is through a blood test, but taking people’s blood based on suspicion would violate the Constitution and your personal property rights. Thus, the breathalyzer was created.
How Breathalyzers Actually Work
What a breathalyzer actually does is estimate blood alcohol levels by using a mathematical formula to convert your breath alcohol level. To convert breath alcohol level to blood alcohol level, the breathalyzer multiplies the amount of alcohol on the breath by 2100. The people who designed the breathalyzer concluded that the average concentration of alcohol in the blood is 2100 times the concentration of alcohol on the breath.
Any good Fairfax DUI lawyer will tell you that the problem here is that this method is inherently flawed because it relies on an estimation. Indeed, this ratio has been shown to vary wildly from person to person and can range from as high as 3200 to as low as 1,100. So, even if we are to assume no human error has occurred, that there is no mouth alcohol, and the machine is properly calibrated, breath alcohol just simply cannot always equal blood alcohol levels because not every person’s breath to blood alcohol ratio is the same. Thus, a person could be found guilty of DUI for merely being different than what breathalyzer manufacturers have deemed to be the “average” person. As a Fairfax DUI lawyer, I find this to be completely unacceptable, and when explained properly to a jury, they will find it unacceptable as well.
Fairfax DUI Lawyer Provides an Example of Breathalyzer Inaccuracies
Imagine having 10 jars of change with an unknown assortment of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters in each jar. One day, out of curiosity, you count out the change in one of the jars and come out with $15. Instead of counting the change in all the jars, you multiply by 10, fill out a deposit slip for $150, and deposit it in the bank. The bank would never accept this!
Flaws in breath tests are being exposed and cases are going to trial where expert witnesses are testifying that breathalyzers fail to prove blood alcohol concentration beyond a reasonable doubt. If your bank wouldn’t accept an estimate of how much change you’re depositing into your account, how can a jury accept an estimate of your blood alcohol concentration as evidence of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt?
Bad Driving Defense
As a Fairfax DUI attorney, I always pay close attention when I notice another driver doing something out on the road which makes me ask myself how this person even has a driver’s license. But the reality is, more likely than not, everyone who reads this has probably made some rather poor driving decisions themselves. Simply put, we all make driving mistakes. Young, inexperienced drivers might misjudge the timing or angle of a turn. An elderly person might have difficulty seeing, hearing, or concentrating. Others might just be impatient, in a rush, or simply careless by nature. The point is that there are a lot of completely sober people who are just really bad drivers.
Police Often Jump to Conclusions When They Notice Poor Driving
If police observe careless or reckless driving, or if a traffic accident has occurred, chemical tests for alcohol and drugs may be conducted on the drivers involved. If those tests yield high enough results, it becomes infinitely more difficult for your Fairfax DUI attorney to argue that the traffic stop or accident were merely the result of poor driving. Yet, sometimes, people are charged with DUI simply because they are bad drivers; not because they were impaired by drugs or alcohol. Furthermore, many people take prescription medications which makes them vulnerable to a wrongful DUI arrest. If you have been arrested or charged with a DUI, you will want to contact a Fairfax DUI attorney as soon as possible.
While some prescription medications can impair a person’s ability to drive in a safe manner, the presence of such medications in a person’s blood, standing alone, is not necessarily indicative of being too impaired to safely operate a motor vehicle. On the other hand, having Percocet, Xanax, or OxyContin in one’s blood, in conjunction with poor driving and/or an accident, can lead to a DUI charge – even though the accident or poor driving might not be the result of impairment, but rather, a product of poor vision or other health-related conditions. In these situations, it takes a skilled Fairfax DUI attorney to effectively argue that the accident was not the product of impairment.
Fairfax DUI Attorney Explains the Flaws in Drug Tests
There is also an important consideration in relation to teens and young adults who partake in recreational drug use. These young people can be arrested based on drugs in their urine or blood even though the effects of these drugs wore off long before they were actually driving. By way of example, marijuana can be found in a person’s urine for weeks or months after they actually used the drug. If a youngster smokes marijuana once a week and is later involved in a car accident, they could be charged with a DUI even though they did not smoke the same day – or even the same week – as the accident. Unsurprisingly, officers can testify falsely to having observed symptoms of impairment, and suddenly, enough evidence exists to prosecute the youngster for DUI. In the event that your child has been charged with a DUI, we offer aggressive and affordable juvenile defense.
How a Fairfax DUI Lawyer Can Help You
Police officers typically testify that the reason for stopping someone was because they believed a suspect’s driving pattern demonstrated evidence of impairment. But as the title of this article makes clear, being under the influence of drugs or alcohol are not the only causes of bad driving, and it requires effective cross-examination and persuasive argument by your Fairfax DUI attorney in order for the jury to fully absorb that there are many other possible causes of poor or erratic driving. Cross-examination provides your Fairfax DUI lawyer an opportunity to flesh out the police officer’s biases concerning drunk driving and how the officer was so focused on obtaining evidence of DUI, that he/she failed to explore other reasons why the driver might have swerved or driven in an erratic manner.
Passionate & Personal Service
PASSIONATE AND PERSONAL SERVICE
The Law Offices of Randall Sousa provides clients throughout Virginia with aggressive, affordable, and highly skilled legal services. Call now to speak with a Fairfax assault and battery lawyer.
Fairfax assault and battery lawyer Randall Sousa possesses a deep commitment and passion for criminal defense, and he is relentless when it comes to fighting for his clients in each and every case.
Fairfax Assault and Battery Lawyer Randall Sousa
DUI'S ARE OFTEN THE RESULT OF INADVERTENT MISTAKES
In every jurisdiction throughout the United States, a person will be considered DUI if they are found to be operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above .08. Interestingly, many state laws hold that a person can be charged with DUI for not only operating a motor vehicle with a BAC above .08, but for riding a bike, a skateboard, or even a horse with a BAC above .08. As a Fairfax DUI lawyer, it is my job to stay on top of developments in Virginia DUI law, and as recently as January of this year, Virginia’s legislature has proposed a bill which would make it a crime to operate a bicycle with a BAC at or above .08.
Before going further, it is critical for you to understand that being arrested for DUI is no laughing matter. It is both frightening and serious. That being said, it is something you will likely be capable of overcoming. In other words, you probably will not lose your family, your friends, your job, or your freedom because you drove impaired on one occasion. However, the legal process associated with DUI can be complicated, expensive, and time-consuming. Not only will you be charged with a crime, but you will also face an automatic DMV license suspension.
What Happens When A Person Is Charged With DUI?
After being charged, you will be ordered to show up to Fairfax County General District Court. This initial court appearance is known as an arraignment. At the arraignment, you will be expected to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Before this date even arrives, it is extremely important that you speak with an aggressive and affordable Fairfax DUI lawyer to obtain as much evidence as possible (such as breathalyzer results and police reports) and to begin negotiations with the Commonwealth’s attorney.
Additionally, you may face a license suspension by the DMV. If this happens, things could begin to get messy – you may not be able to drive to work; pick up your kids; or get to important appointments. For this reason, you will want qualified legal representation with the knowledge and ability to help you quickly obtain a restricted license. In order to obtain a restricted license, there are a lot of complicated procedures and guidelines which must be followed and several requirements which must be met. A qualified, knowledgeable Fairfax DUI lawyer can help.
What Happens Before A DUI Arrest?
The Commonwealth must prove that your blood alcohol level (“BAC”) was above .08 at the time you were driving or that you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Before a police officer event stops you, they will almost always follow behind your car to obtain a visual observation of impairment. To be sure, all that is needed for a police officer to initiate a traffic stop on suspicion of DUI is observing you touching or crossing over a line while driving.
After effectuating the traffic stop, the officer will walk up to your window. When the officer does this, they are looking for evidence of alcohol consumption, an odor of alcohol, bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, impaired or slurred speech, and much more. Based on your driving pattern, or any of the signs previously mentioned, the officer may then choose to conduct a formal DUI investigation.
When An Officer Asks You To Exit The Vehicle
When an officer asks you to exit your vehicle, they will be paying close attention to your balance. The officer will then ask you to perform a number of field sobriety tests. You can (and SHOULD!!!) politely refuse to perform these tests. The officer will then ask for you to blow into a breathalyzer – more formally known as a Preliminary Alcohol Screening device (“PAS”). You are entitled to refuse this test as well. However, refusing to take a breathalyzer test could result in your license being suspended for one year – even if you are found not guilty in court. With that said, it may be possible for your Fairfax DUI lawyer to help you obtain a restricted license.
After blowing into the PAS, an officer must determine whether enough evidence exists to establish probable cause that you are DUI. But if you refuse to take any field sobriety or PAS tests, it can be difficult to prove that there was probable cause for an arrest. Absent probable cause, the case could very well be thrown out – even if later-performed chemical tests yield readings which establish that you were above the legal limit.
If you did perform the PAS test, and you were above the legal limit, it could be the result of what many believe to be an inherent flaw in PAS methodology. Generally, most people provide a PAS test a little while after being pulled over. But the human body takes roughly 2 hours to process alcohol. Thus, if you blew a .09 thirty minutes after you were pulled over, it could very well mean that you had a blood alcohol level of .06 at the time you were driving – which would mean that, at the time you were pulled over, you would not have been over the legal limit. This is one of the many situations where a good Fairfax DUI lawyer could be of assistance.
Penalties for DUI
DUI convictions are taken very seriously. As such, the punishments associated with a conviction can cause more than just mere inconvenience. Interestingly, in Virginia, the higher your blood alcohol level, the stiffer the potential punishments.
First DUI Offense in Virginia
A first-time DUI conviction is a misdemeanor which carries a sentence of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. However, if your blood alcohol level is between .15 and .21, you will be required to serve a mandatory minimum of five days in jail if you are convicted. Once your BAC is above .21, you will be required to serve a mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail if convicted.
Obviously, once your BAC is above a .15, you are going to want to hire an aggressive Fairfax DUI lawyer to help defend you against these charges and fight to ensure that you are not required to spend any time in jail. Additionally, if it is your first offense, you may be able to obtain a restricted license if you meet certain requirements. Your Fairfax DUI lawyer will be able to discuss these requirements with you in further detail.
Second DUI Offense in Virginia
If you are convicted of a second DUI within a 10-year period, you can expect to serve a 10-day mandatory jail sentence. However, like the penalties for a first DUI, the higher your BAC, the stiffer the penalties. Accordingly, if your BAC is above .15, the mandatory minimum will be 15 days in jail. Additionally, if you are convicted of a second DUI within five years of your first conviction, the mandatory minimum is 20 days in county jail.
A second DUI charge is much more serious than your first, and you will require an aggressive and affordable Fairfax DUI lawyer to provide you legal representation before a court that will no longer view this transgression as a “one time mistake.”
Third DUI Offense in Virginia
If you are convicted of your third DUI within a 10-year period, it is no longer a simple misdemeanor. Instead, it will be charged as a felony and you will face a mandatory sentence of 90 days in the county jail. However, you could face up to 5 years in jail upon being convicted.
If it is your third DUI within a 5-year period, you will be subjected to a minimum 6-month jail sentence upon being convicted. Not only that, but you will be forced to forfeit your driver’s license and possibly even your vehicle. At the end of the day, if you are charged with a felony DUI, you are going to need to hire an aggressive Fairfax DUI lawyer to help you fight these charges.
As a Fairfax DUI lawyer, I can tell you that most DUI’s are charged as misdemeanors However, there is one other classification of DUI that has harsher penalties. In Virginia, a person can be charged with Felony DUI if (1) they cause death or injury; (2) they have any prior felony DUIs; or (3) they have three or more DUIs within the past 10 years. Importantly, irrespective of whether the prior DUIs occurred in Virginia or in another state, they will be treated as prior DUIs for the purpose of repeat DUI sentencing. If you have been arrested or charged with a felony DUI, you will want to contact a Fairfax DUI attorney immediately.
Felony DUI Sentencing
As far as sentencing goes, a Felony DUI can carry as much as a 5-year prison sentence. However, the mandatory minimum for Felony DUI in Virginia is 90 days in jail if it is a third DUI within a 10-year period, or 180 days in jail if it is the Third DUI within a 5-year period.
What to Do if Charged with Felony DUI
If you have been arrested for DUI, and have had two prior convictions for DUI, you need an aggressive, skilled, and knowledgeable Fairfax DUI lawyer to help you fight these charges. Felony DUI charges are quite serious and the severity of the sentencing is reflective of that seriousness. These types of charges require an aggressive, dedicated, and savvy Fairfax DUI lawyer to help you obtain the best outcome possible.
Avoiding a felony DUI conviction can prevent you from suffering consequences which could ultimately destroy your life, your employment prospects, and your ability to support your family. Whether the charges are dismissed or reduced as a result of a plea agreement, or you ultimately prevail after taking your case to trial, retaining a knowledgeable, aggressive Fairfax DUI attorney is the first step towards helping you avoid the horrible consequences associated with a felony DUI conviction.
An Example of How We Can Fight Your Case
Todd is driving from Washington, D.C. towards his home in Fairfax when he is pulled over for speeding by the Virginia State Police. Four years ago, while a college freshman, Todd was arrested for his first DUI after leaving a party. Two years ago, after leaving a Memorial Day party where he had been drinking, Todd was again pulled over and arrested for DUI. As an important aside, Todd is prescribed Ativan to help treat anxiety.
Upon being pulled over, the State Police officer does not see any signs that Todd has been drinking. But given Todd’s prior DUI convictions (which the officer discovered when running Todd’s driver’s license), the officer asks Todd to perform a number of field sobriety tests. Although the accuracy of these tests are far from perfect, Todd takes the tests anyway. However, Todd is having trouble keeping his balance. Todd is asked to perform a breathalyzer test. Because Todd hasn’t been drinking, his result reads 0.00. The officer asks Todd if he takes any medication. Todd states that he takes Ativan which was prescribed by his psychiatrist. Todd is arrested for DUI and is told he needs to provide a blood sample. Todd is charged with his third DUI in Fairfax County Circuit Court. Todd’s hires a Fairfax DUI attorney who can raise a number of arguments on Todd’s behalf.
Todd’s Fairfax DUI attorney will argue that, first, unlike alcohol, there is no legal, medical, or scientific “limit” when it comes to drugs. Consequently, the prosecutor cannot simply rest on the presence of the drug in Todd’s system alone. Instead, the prosecutor must actually prove that the drug’s level was high enough to negatively effect Todd’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Todd’s Fairfax DUI lawyer will further argue that the effects of Ativan and other anti-anxiety medications are difficult to detect and tolerance to the drug can be built rapidly. Todd’s Fairfax DUI attorney can confer with expert witnesses and call them to testify on Todd’s behalf where they will explain to the jury, in plain English, that there is no possible way to determine whether Todd’s medication actually impaired his ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. As a result, a jury finds Todd not guilty.
Passionate & Personal Service
PASSIONATE AND PERSONAL SERVICE
The Law Offices of Randall Sousa provides clients throughout Virginia with aggressive, affordable, and highly skilled legal services. Call now to speak with a Fairfax DUI lawyer.
Fairfax DUI lawyer Randall Sousa possesses a deep commitment and passion for criminal defense, and he is relentless when it comes to fighting for his clients in each and every case.
Fairfax DUI Lawyer Randall Sousa
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