DUI Lawyer Serving Stafford County | DWI Defense

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DUI Lawyer Serving Stafford County | DWI Defense

Driving under the influence is a serious offense in Virginia, as it poses a threat to others on the road. A DUI conviction can also result in serious consequences, especially if you have prior DUIs. Have the police arrested you for driving under the influence in Stafford County? You may have options for contesting a DUI charge and pursuing a favorable outcome to your prosecution. Contact Buczek Carpenter PC today for a free initial case evaluation to discuss how a DUI attorney can help you fight a DWI charge.

Stafford County DUI Laws

Under Virginia’s DUI laws, the police may arrest and charge a driver with DUI when the driver has a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or more. A driver may face a DUI charge when alcohol or drugs impair the driver’s ability to operate their vehicle safely. Virginia also has a zero-tolerance policy for drivers under 21. Drivers under 21 found operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs will receive an administrative license suspension; drivers who have a BAC of 0.02 and less than 0.08 percent will receive a one-year license suspension, a mandatory $500 fine, and a community service obligation of at least 50 hours.

Virginia also has an open container law. If police find an open alcohol container in the passenger compartment with the container’s contents partially removed and the driver exhibits signs of having consumed alcohol, they may face DUI charges.

Virginia’s implied consent law requires drivers to submit to a blood or breath test upon the police’s request following an arrest for DUI. Drivers who refuse to submit to testing will receive a one-year license suspension; a second refusal increases the suspension to three years. Any license suspension for testing refusal will run consecutively with any suspension imposed for a DUI conviction. However, a driver may petition for a restricted driver’s license after a first refusal of testing.

Potential DUI Penalties After a Conviction

Penalties for a DUI conviction will depend on the number of prior DUI offenses a driver has, the driver’s BAC, and any aggravating factors. Penalties for a DUI first offense include:

  • Potential jail term of up to one year
  • Mandatory minimum $250 fine
  • One-year license suspension

Penalties for a second DUI conviction include:

  • Potential jail term of up to one year
  • Mandatory minimum $500 fine
  • Three-year license suspension

Committing a second DUI within five years of a first offense also includes an additional penalty of a mandatory minimum 20-day jail term. Committing a second DUI within 10 years carries an additional penalty of a mandatory minimum 10-day jail term.

A third DUI offense constitutes a felony offense, carrying penalties that include:

  • Mandatory minimum $1,000 fine, with a maximum possible fine of $2,500
  • Mandatory indefinite license revocation
  • One to five years in prison or, in the jury’s or court’s discretion, up to 12 months in jail

Committing a third DUI within five years of a prior DUI carries an additional penalty of a mandatory minimum six-month jail term. Committing a third DUI within 10 years of a prior offense carries additional penalties of a mandatory minimum 90-day jail term and forfeiture of one’s vehicle (if solely owned by the defendant). Conviction for a fourth or subsequent DUI offense carries a mandatory minimum one-year jail term.

Having a high BAC at the time of arrest can increase the severity of penalties for a DUI conviction. Having a BAC of 0.15 percent or higher but less than 0.2 percent has penalties that include:

  • First Offense– Mandatory minimum five-day jail term in addition to other applicable penalties
  • Second Offense Within 10 Years– Mandatory minimum 10-day jail term in addition to other applicable penalties

Having a BAC of 0.2 percent or more includes penalties such as:

  • First Offense– Mandatory minimum 10-day jail term in addition to other applicable penalties
  • Second Offense Within 10 Years– Mandatory minimum 20-day jail term in addition to other applicable penalties

A person convicted of DUI may face enhanced penalties if they had a minor passenger in the vehicle, including:

  • Additional mandatory five-day jail term, in addition to other jail or prison terms
  • An additional fine of $500 to $1,000, in addition to any other imposed fines

A second DUI conviction with a juvenile passenger also carries an additional penalty of an 80-hour community service obligation.

A DUI conviction will also require a defendant to install an ignition interlock device on any vehicles they drive as a condition of restricted driving privileges. However, conviction of a second DUI within 10 years of a prior DUI or a third/subsequent DUI within 10 years will require the defendant to install interlocks on every vehicle they own, co-own, or operate as a condition of restricted driving privileges or restoration of full driving privileges.

People convicted of DUI must also report to an Alcohol Safety Action Program for screening and probationary oversight as a condition of license restoration. The program will determine whether a DUI offender requires intervention services and identify the specific services they require, such as 20 hours of education.

Common DWI Defense Strategies

Depending on the facts and circumstances in your case, you may have various defenses you can raise against a DUI charge. Common defense strategies used to avoid a DUI conviction include:

  • Challenging the Legality of the Traffic Stop– A defendant may fight a DUI charge by arguing that the arresting officer unlawfully stopped their vehicle. They may argue the officer lacked reasonable suspicion or probable cause of a traffic violation, or that they subjectively chose to stop the defendant during a DUI checkpoint.
  • Errors in Testing– Defendants can file motions to exclude the results of field sobriety, breath, or blood testing due to improper testing protocols. Common arguments to challenge test results include arguing that an officer did not receive training to conduct or improperly conducted field sobriety tests, that officers failed to follow breathalyzer testing protocols, that the department failed to calibrate its breathalyzer machine, or that officers failed to maintain the chain of custody of a defendant’s blood sample.
  • Constitutional Violations by Law Enforcement – A defendant may seek to exclude prosecutors’ evidence because police officers obtained the evidence in violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights. For example, perhaps the officers searched the defendant’s vehicle without a warrant or probable cause, or questioned the defendant after an arrest without advising them of their Miranda rights.

How Can an Experienced DUI Attorney Help You Face Your Charges

When facing prosecution for DWI, a DUI lawyer can help you by identifying your options for pursuing a favorable resolution to your charges, whether facing a first DUI, felony DUI charges, or aggravated penalties. Let the DUI and DWI lawyers of Buczek Carpenter PC advocate for your rights and interests by:

  • Thoroughly investigating your charges to recover evidence that can help us build a compelling DWI defense
  • Explaining your charges, potential outcomes, and the criminal justice process to prepare you for what to expect in your case
  • Evaluating potential defense strategies and contesting the prosecution’s case at each stage, including by filing motions to exclude evidence or dismiss your charges for insufficient evidence

Tirelessly pursuing the best possible outcome for your case, even if that means fighting on your behalf at trial

Contact Buczek Carpenter PC Today for Legal Assistance After a DUI/DWI Arrest

After getting arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, dedicated legal assistance can help you protect your rights and minimize the consequences of your arrest. Contact Buczek Carpenter PC today for a free, confidential consultation with an experienced DUI attorney to discuss your legal options for resolving your charges.