In Virginia, DUI/DWI charges are very serious crimes. They can have catastrophic effects on your driving record, employment, security clearance, daily obligations, and your freedom. We understand that good people make mistakes. Taking the first steps to hire an experienced and skilled DUI/DWI attorney is one of the best ways to build a sound defense and to protect yourself in court from this serious charge.
The skilled and experienced DUI/DWI attorneys at Kassabian & Kassabian, P.L.C., are here to help you understand your DUI/DWI charge and know how to effectively defend against it. We believe that being charged with a DUI/DWI should not put a permanent mark on your life. We are dedicated to helping you, will do everything in our power to build a strong case and to obtain a favorable outcome in court so that you may move forward with your life.
What is a DUI/DWI, and What Are the Penalties?
Any individual who drives while intoxicated by alcohol or a drug has committed a DUI/DWI. According to Virginia Code Section 18.2-266, the legal limit of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08 percent or more by weight by volume or 0.08 grams or more per 210 liters of breath. Any individual with a BAC of 0.08 or higher than this legal limit is driving while intoxicated. It is important to understand, however, that individuals with a BAC under 0.08 percent can still be charged with a DUI/DWI. If an officer believes that alcohol, drugs or any combination of alcohol and drugs has inhibited your ability to operate a motor vehicle, even if your BAC is below a 0.08, they may still charge you with a DUI/DWI. The officer may make this decision based on many factors to include: exhibited erratic driving behavior such as swerving, weaving or driving recklessly, an inability to speak clearly, walk properly, odor of alcohol, bloodshot eyes, an inability to follow directions or requests of the police officer, your statements about drinking or drug use, the manner of your statements, general disposition, awareness of your surroundings, result on the volunteer field sobriety tests (roadside filed tests), in addition to the results of the preliminary breath tests (PBT).
Virginia considers DUI/DWI as a criminal charge with penalties that may include active jail time, making it crucial that you protect yourself with a strong and effective defense. For first-time offenders, DUI/DWI is a Class 1 misdemeanor and carries a penalty of conferment in jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of not more than $2,500.00, either or both, with a mandatory minimum fine of $250.00, suspension of your driver's license for 12 months, 1 year probation with the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP), and with court authorization, an ability to request the court to issue you a limited restricted driver's license with the installation of an ignition interlock system installed in your motor vehicle for a minimum of 6 consecutive months during the period of your license suspension and restriction. Moreover, ignition interlock devices are equipped with cameras to allow ASAP probation officers to see and confirm if a driver who was convicted of a DUI/DWI and was granted a restricted operator's license got another person to blow into the ignition interlock device for him or her or otherwise tampered with or manipulated the device. The ignition interlock device requirement is designed and aimed at making sure drivers don't skip BAC testes that they are required to maintain and adhere to while operating a vehicle with a restricted driver's license after there is a conviction for DUI/DWI.
The DUI/DWI penalties increase for elevated BAC and repeat offenders. A first offender where the BAC is at least .15 but not more than .20 shall be confined in jail for an additional mandatory minimum period of 5 days, and where the BAC is more than .20, for an additional mandatory minimum period of 10 days. In addition to the penalties associated with an elevated BAC, where one is convicted of a 2nd offense committed within 5 to 10 years of a prior DUI/DWI, that person will be punished by a mandatory minimum fine of $500 and confinement in jail for not less than 1 month, with 10 days of that jail sentence being a mandatory minimum sentence. Upon a conviction of a 2nd offense within a 10-year period of a prior DUI/DWI, where the BAC is at least .15 but not more than .20, that person will be confined in jail for an additional mandatory minimum period of 10 days or, if the BAC level is more than .20, confinement in jail for an additional mandatory minimum period of 20 days. In addition, the offender will be fined a mandatory minimum fine of $500.
If you are convicted of 3 DUI/DWI's committed within a 10 year period, you will be guilty of a Class 6 felony, punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than 1 year nor more than 5 years and an additional punishment of a 90 day mandatory minimum jail sentence if the 3rd offense DUI was committed within a 10-year period; and a 6 month mandatory minimum jail sentence where the 3rd offense DUI/DWI was committed within a 5 year period, additionally there will be a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, a DUI/DWI charge may also bring about additional related charges such as involuntary manslaughter, hit and run, reckless driving, eluding law enforcement officer, destruction of property, driving on a suspended license, refusal to take breath test, civil administrative suspension of driver's license; in addition to law enforcement officers impounding and searching your vehicle.
The Breath Test & Virginia's Implied Consent Law
In Virginia, you are required to take a breath test if you are pulled over under suspicion of driving while intoxicated and are lawfully arrested for DUI/DWI. Virginia has an “implied consent” law which states that by operating a motor vehicle on a public highway in Virginia, whether you have a Virginia driver's license or not, you automatically consent to the taking of a breath test, blood test, or both blood and breath test to determine the probable alcohol or drug content in your blood (body) if you are lawfully arrested for a DUI/DWI or driving outside of your restricted operator's license pursuant to Virginia Code Section 18.2-272. If you refuse to take this breath or blood test, you will face additional consequences such as suspension of your driver's license in addition to your DUI/DWI charge, and possibly jail time if there is a prior conviction of DUI/DWI, Refusal or Driving on a suspended operator's license.
How to Defend Against a DUI/DWI Charge:
If you've been charged with a DUI/DWI or Unreasonable Refusal, don't panic. There may be a variety of ways to defend against your charges to have it dismissed, or the penalties diminished. Your DUI/DWI and Unreasonable Refusal attorney may be able to successfully present the following in your defense case:
- The arresting officer did not have a valid reason for stopping or searching you or your vehicle
- The manner in how the officer had you exit your vehicle
- Address issues in how the breath test was conducted
- Address issues in how the field sobriety tests were administered
- Performance of the field sobriety tests
- Miranda rights
- Illegal searches
- Invalid search warrants
- Testimony from witnesses regarding the procedure of your arrest
- Implied consent rights to a breath and/or blood test
- Obtain breath test calibrations and certifications
- Blood test procedures
- Chain of custody of evidence
- Preliminary breath tests procedures and results
- Use of expert toxicologist witness
- Cross examine state witnesses and toxicologist
- Right of confrontation
- Police cruiser dash-cam recordings and procedures
- Police worn body-cam recordings and procedures
- Rebuttable presumptions
- Lack of preservation of evidence
You should consult with an experienced and skilled DUI/DWI attorney immediately and start building your defense as soon as possible.
Don't Wait, Create a Strong Case With Kassabian & Kassabian, PLC Today!
If you've been charged with a DUI/DWI or Unreasonable Refusal, time is of the essence. You should consult an experienced and effective attorney to begin building your case as soon as possible. The lawyer you hire will have a major impact on the outcome of your case. DUI/DWI attorney John Kassabian has handled countless misdemeanor and felony DUI/DWI charges in addition to Unreasonable Refusal charges. He is skilled at building strong and effective defense strategies. As a former prosecutor for Fairfax County and Prince William County, John understands how DUI/DWI cases are investigated, how evidence is gathered, how the charges are presented to court and how to defend against them. He will review the details of your case and work in your best interest to have your penalties diminished or even dismissed.
Protect your rights and don't let this mistake compromise your future. Contact Kassabian & Kassabian, P.L.C. today for a free consultation. (703) 750-3622.