Approximately 1 million Americans are arrested for driving under the influence of narcotics or alcohol. In Virginia alone, there have been 228.1 arrests per 100 thousand people.
We understand that getting arrested for DUI can be a frightening experience. Perhaps you made a mistake, or it was just poor judgment, or maybe you’re falsely accused. Whatever it is, know that there’s a way out of the most terrifying situations.
Whether it was you or your friend, stay calm, regain your composure, and read on to find out what to do in situations like these.
Virginia’s DUI Laws
First, let’s start off by digging deeper into the DUI laws of Virginia.
Now, a first DUI offense is classified as a class 1 misdemeanor. It is a criminal charge where you can be fined up to $2500 and sentenced to a maximum of 1 year in jail.
You will likely also have your license suspended for a few days or even a year. Depending on your circumstances your sentence could be harsher. For example, if you were driving with a child in your car or you were driving a commercial vehicle, or if you’re under the age of 21.
A second DUI offense is also usually a misdemeanor, however, a third-time offense is a clear felony.
No matter which of these applies to you, it is important not to panic. The more you know about what to expect, the better.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the arrest process.
What Happens When You’re Arrested for DUI
To make an arrest an officer stops your car and asks you for your driver’s license, your registration details, and your proof of insurance. During this time the gauge whether you are under the influence of narcotics or alcohol.
During this time to be sure not to exacerbate the situation by saying something that could be held against you. Do not get unnecessarily violent and keep your cool. Answer questions as politely and respectfully as you can.
The officers may use some standard field tests to determine your state of mind. Keep in mind that you do have the right to refuse a breath test before your arrest.
Now, if the officer has reason to believe that you are driving under the influence, they can arrest you.
Reading Your Rights
During the arrest process, they will read you your rights. After this, the next step is to take you back to the police station.
If there’s no one accompanying you, they will impound your car as well.
Testing and Implied Consent
Once you’re at the police station you are asked to take a test. Given that you’re already arrested, the laws of implied consent will apply. Implied consent refers to the legal principle that anyone who has been lawfully arrested for DUI has given their consent to take a drug test.
It is best to submit to the test. Failing to do so will count as an offense and add to your charges. As a consequence, your license is suspended.
Refusing to do so for a second time counts as a misdemeanor. You have more to lose by refusing to take the test than submitting to it.
Your Right to Hire a DUI Attorney
Now keep in mind that you do have the right to hire a criminal defense attorney to help you with your case. This is best done as soon as possible. Representing yourself is generally not a good idea.
Having someone with experience in this particular field of law is a great asset and can help you get the bail you need quickly. Even after you are released from jail, you are likely facing criminal charges.
If not addressed correctly, this could go on your permanent record.
After your arrest, you will have to face arraignment. Arraignment is when your judge formally reads out the charges against you. If you have a lawyer to represent you may be able to avoid this process.
Understanding Plea Bargains
After your arraignment, it’s time to determine your next course of action. You will be taken to a prosecutor who will further explain the consequences of your charges. If yours is a clear cut case with no possible way out, your best move might be to agree to a plea deal.
However, even these can be negotiated. Having an attorney to negotiate on your behalf is always a smart idea. There are plenty of prosecutors who exaggerate your charges and try to push you into making a poor deal.
You need someone who advocates in your best interest.
Probable Defenses for DUI Charges
In most cases, a good attorney can help you build a good defense for your case. Of course, this depends largely on the circumstances surrounding your case as well.
In general, here are a few options you have.
Violation of Your Constitutional Rights
If your arrest was not done lawfully, you can challenge it in court. The criminal justice system places immense importance on respecting the constitutional rights of all citizens, regardless of the crime.
It is common knowledge that the drug tests you are made to take are not always accurate. A good attorney will be able to challenge positive results and the basis for the prosecution’s case.
Contact an Experienced DUI Attorney in Virginia Today
Arrested for DUI in Virginia? Don’t panic. Schedule a FREE consultation with us, and our DUI attorneys will help you determine your next course of action.