Virginia DUI Stops
Virginia DUI stops often occur when someone is observed driving in a manner that seems erratic or odd. Being pulled over for a DUI stop can be overwhelming, especially for individuals who do not have much experience with law enforcement. If you have been pulled over for a DUI stop and charged with a DUI offense, get in touch with a qualified DUI lawyer who can work diligently to build your case.
Virginia DUI Stop Process
Most DUI charges result from a traffic stop for a traffic infraction. So, if a person is driving legally and safely then they have nothing to worry about. Probably half of DUI charges involve an officer observing some kind of illegal behavior that does not necessarily indicate impairment, such as speeding or an illegal turn or failing to come to a stop. The other half are cases where there is impairment detected, such as weaving in or out of a lane or taking a wide turn; something that indicates the person may not really be either paying attention or is otherwise impaired.
If an officer pulls a person over and smells alcohol on a person’s breath, the first thing will ask is whether or not they have been drinking. Most people will admit they have had a couple of beers or had a glass of wine. Once that conversation takes place, the officer is going to ask that person to engage in some field sobriety tests. Once the field sobriety tests are completed, most of the time the officer will ask the person to provide a preliminary breath test or provide a sample for a preliminary breath test. Once that is completed, the officer will decide whether or not to place the person under arrest for a DUI.
Vehicle Searches During Stops
During Virginia DUI stops, the officers often want to search the vehicle because they want to see if there are any open containers of alcohol in the car. Usually that search takes place after a person is placed under arrest because once the person is under arrest the police have the absolute right to search that car.
People do not need to consent to a search if they do not want to, and in fact, they should not. A person has the absolute right to refuse to consent to any search. Now, the officer can search without consent, provided that they have developed probable cause to search that vehicle for something. But in the absence of probable cause and the absence of consent, it would be a violation of the Fourth Amendment for an officer to search a vehicle.
Implied consent is a law in Virginia that says that by operating a motor vehicle on the highways of the Commonwealth, a person has impliedly consented to give a sample of their blood or breath to determine the level of intoxicants therein. Any unreasonable refusal to provide that sample would result in a separate and distinct charge that could be punishable by further license suspension, or if there are multiple offenses on the person’s record, possible jail time.
Virginia DUI stops are still legal even if an individual was not Mirandized. The United State Supreme Court says that Miranda rights do not attach during a traffic stop. Now, again, this does not mean that a person does not have the right remain silent, it only means that the officer is not required to advise them of that right to remain silent. The Fifth Amendment guaranteeing a person’s right to remain silent exists every day and they do not need to be told in order to have that right.
Mistakes to Avoid in DUI Stops
If a person has been drinking and is pulled over, the first thing that they should do is understand that they are under no obligation to answer any questions by the police. Just because they do not have to tell a person they have the right to remain silent, does not mean that right does not still exist. All a person is required to do is give their identifying information to the officer and that is the extent of it. So, if they ask a person where they are coming from if they ask if they have been drinking, do not lie but do not say anything.
A person does not have to say a word to the police but must agree to give them their driver’s license. Often during Virginia DUI stops, people believe that if they talk to the police, they can reason with them or resolve the situation. In actuality, you should avoid talking to law enforcement without your lawyer present, or you run the risk of incriminating yourself. If you have been pulled over during a stop, get in touch with a skilled DUI attorney who can defend you.