Manassas DUI Lawyer
Driving under the influence (DUI) in Manassas, Virginia, can be charged against suspects for either alcohol or drugs [Virginia Criminal Code Section 18.2-266]. Suspects can also be charged for this offense if they are intoxicated while operating a watercraft [Section 29.1-738]. It may be in your best interest to contact a Manassas DUI lawyer if any of the following applies and you are arrested:
- Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is 0.08 or above.
- A person is “under the influence of alcohol” to the point of impairment in the opinion of the arresting officer, even if their BAC turns out to be under 0.08.
- The suspect is under the influence of any drug, also in the opinion of the arresting officer. (They don’t need to have a BAC of 0.08.)
- The driver/boater is under the influence of both drugs and alcohol.
Minors can be also be arrested for either offense if they have a BAC as low as 0.02 [Section 18.2-266.1].
DUI Arrests in Manassas
Upon arrest, a suspect’s driver’s license may be immediately administratively suspended for a duration that depends on whether this is a first, second, third or subsequent DUI offense. If they wish to request an interim restricted license, accused must appear and petition the court.
Once convicted, a DUI may cause insurance rates to rise sharply. If this is a second (or subsequent) offense, the carrier could cancel an auto insurance policy. Those convicted of a DUI may be ordered to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle, even if this is the first offense. The minimum amount of time that this device must remain on their vehicle is 6 months.
From the Traffic Stop to Being Charged with DUI
Police officers must have reasonable articulable suspicion to stop the vehicle of the accused. Officers may not pull over a vehicle on a mere hunch, there must be some driving behavior or circumstances that give the officer reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred or is afoot.
After observing the driving behavior and the answers to an initial interview, the officer may request that the driver take a series of roadside Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs). They are based on the suspect’s ability to demonstrate physical coordination and mental acuity (or lack of it due to their condition). Suspects may decline to take these tests without legal punishment, but if a driver shows impairment during any or all of these tests, the officer may arrest him or her on suspicion of DUI. It is important that individuals know their rights during a DUI stop so as to prevent incrimination.
Once the suspect arrives at the police station, a test is administered to determine the blood alcohol content of the accused, usually with a breathalyzer. Suspects may decline to submit to this test as well, but the punishment, if found guilty of Unreasonable Refusal is a loss of their driver’s license for a year [Section 18.2-268.3]. This statutory suspension prohibits the suspect from requesting a restricted license for their suspension period.
And though BAC tests are strong evidence against suspects, they are not bulletproof. A seasoned Manassas DUI lawyer can often contest this evidence if any of the following can be proved:
- The test was improperly administered
- The device was not properly calibrated
- If the suspect was administered a blood test, which is preferred if he or she is being treated for injuries from an accident, the blood was mishandled (and possibly contaminated), which makes it inadmissible.
- The officer did not actually have reasonable articulable suspicion to pull over the vehicle or lacked probable cause to arrest the accused.
Penalties Depend on the Number of DUI Convictions
The following are some factors that determine the degree of the penalty. They include:
- The suspect’s BAC level (even if it is below 0.08)
- The number of previous convictions and the timing of those prior convictions
- Whether there were any minors in the vehicle when the suspect was arrested.
The penalty for first-time DUI conviction can be up to 12 months in jail, but it is rare that the maximum punishment be imposed for a first offense. A fine as high as $2,500 could also be levied, but seldom is it that much for a first offense. However, by statute, the driver’s license is suspended for a year for a first offense and this is not negotiable. A second conviction also has a maximum fine of $2,500, a minimum of 20 to 40 days in jail (with a one-year maximum), and a three-year license suspension. A third conviction is a felony with even more serious jail sentences and consequences and indefinite driver’s license suspension [Section 18.2-270]. Consult a Manassas DUI lawyer today to review your case.