Potential DUI Consequences
How Much Trouble Are You Really In?
First, it is important to know you are not alone. Last year in Fairfax County, more than 2500 people were charged with DUI, DWI, or drunk driving related offenses. It is important to understand that just because an arrest has been made for DUI or DWI, that does not mean that every person accused was found guilty.
The punishments for DUI in Fairfax County can be severe. Maximum punishments for a first time conviction can be up to 12 months in jail, loss of driving privileges for 12 months, and a fine of $2500.00. The attorneys at The Gordon Law Firm are experienced DUI lawyers that do not believe in scaring people into hiring our firm.
A person charged with DUI in Fairfax is not usually sentenced to a jail term of longer than 48 hours in General District Court IF:
- If the tested Blood Alcohol Content is less than .14; and
- If the person has never been charged with a DUI before; and
- If the person charged with DUI was cooperative with the police officer; and
- If the person has a decent driving record and has a valid driver’s license; and
- The person’s driving behavior was not egregious and there was not an accident.
Another factor is the nature of the prosecuting attorney, the law enforcement officer, and of course, the attitude of the judge determining your case.
The other major concern for people is the length of the license suspension. It is an automatic 12 month loss of the privilege to drive in Virginia. In many cases, if the above statements about the person are true, a judge may allow a person to have restricted driving privileges so that can drive to work, school, day care, and religious activities.
You should meet with an experienced Fairfax DUI lawyer to thoroughly review the events that caused the police officer to make an arrest. Armed with the facts you present to the attorney at a free initial consultation, The Gordon Law Firm will examine the scientific, factual, and legal issues that might affect your Fairfax County DUI or DWI case.
Testing the Justification of the DUI Stop in Fairfax
Before a police officer can stop a person for DUI, he or she must have probable cause that some crime or traffic infraction is being committed. An police officer may have a reasonable suspicion that a driver may be DWI or DUI if they are: disobeying traffic signs, speeding, swerving, driving too slow, weaving or going into the wrong lanes of traffic. If an officer notices driver doing these actions, the Fairfax police officer will most likely make an initial traffic stop.
Once the driver is stopped, the officer will examine the person for signs of intoxication such as: blood shot eyes, inability to follow directions, flushed cheeks, and incoherent or slurred speech.
Attacking the Field Sobriety Tests in Fairfax County
If a driver is suspected of DUI or DWI, the law enforcement officer may request that the driver perform a variety of Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs). Field Sobriety Tests for DUI and DWI in Virginia are considered voluntary, which means that a driver may refuse to perform them. These tests are given by a police officer in order establish probable cause for arrest and also to try to assess a driver’s level of intoxication.
Common Virginia Field Sobriety Tests
Some of the common Field Sobriety Tests used by law enforcement officers to evaluate whether an individual is impaired in Fairfax County are the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test (HGN), nose touch, reciting the alphabet, standing on one leg, the 9 step walk and turn, and preliminary breath test (PBT).
- Nine-Step Walk and Turn: Driver is asked to walk nine steps, heel to toe, on an imaginary or real line.
- Alphabet: The driver is asked to say the alphabet from A to Z or from any letter to another (such as H to P) without slurring his speech or singing.
- One-Legged Stand: Driver is asked to stand on one leg with the opposite foot raised six inches off the ground while the driver counts aloud for 30 seconds.
- Nose Touch: With arms outstretched and head back, a person is asked to touch his nose at the command of the officer.
- The HGN test measures involuntary movement of the driver’s eyes.
Based upon research of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,the United States Department of Transportation has standardized the Nine Step Walk and Turn, the HGN test, and the One Legged Stand.
Alex Gordon, our DUI attorney in Fairfax county has many years of experience cross-examining police officers regarding the administration of these common Field Sobriety Tests. Our DUI defense lawyer will ask you many questions regarding the police officer’s instructions to you prior to taking the Field Sobriety Tests. He will also ask whether the officer demonstrated how you should perform the tests. How a driver followed directions and performed on the Field Sobriety Tests are also important for our Fairfax DWI lawyer to know in order to defend your case.
Challenging the Preliminary Breath Test
The Preliminary Breath Test in Fairfax DW
If a driver is suspected of DUI or DWI, a Fairfax County police officer will often ask that the person take a PBT (preliminary breath test) at the traffic stop. The results of the PBT cannot not be used against a driver at a trial regarding his innocence or guilt, but the PBT results can used by the officer to establish that he or she had probable cause to arrest a driver for DWI in Fairfax. The PBT results can only be introduced into evidence if the justification for the DUI arrest is challenged at a pre-trial hearing in Fairfax County court.
A Fairfax DUI lawyer should know that the device used by the officer to take the preliminary breath test must be on a list of machines approved by the Department of Forensic Science of Virginia. If the PBT device is 1) not on the approved list or 2) has not been properly calibrated or 3) not used according to its operations manual, your DUI attorney may decide to prevent the Fairfax police officer from providing evidence about the results of the PBT at a pre-trial hearing.
Putting the Blood Alcohol Test on Trial
Challenging the BAC in a Fairfax DUI Case
The Intoximeter EC/IR 2 is a larger breath testing device that is usually at the police station or jail. These machines are tested every month and must be calibrated every six months. If used correctly and properly operated, the Intoximeter EC/IR 2 may accurately determine a driver’s blood alcohol content (or BAC) at the time the test is given. The Gordon Law Firm’s DUI attorney in Fairfax County, Alex Gordon, will explain that the Intoximeter EC/IR 2 can make mistakes. For instance, the Intoximeter EC/IR 2 may read chemicals other than alcohol, for not eliminating high BAC results due to stomach and esophageal health issues, and for not being calibrated or maintained properly. Additionally, Mr. Gordon will explain how he can effectively question the Fairfax officer about any errors the officer may have made in providing the breath test using the Intoximeter EC/IR 2 Intoxilyzer.
According to Virginia law, anyone operating a motor vehicle upon the public highways gives his “implied consent” to take the breath alcohol test with the Intoximeter EC/IR 2. Before a person in Virginia decides to take the test upon the machine, the Fairfax police officer or State Trooper is required to read to the driver a list of the consequences if the driver chooses not to give a breath or blood sample.
“Implied Consent” is a term that means that if a person drives a motor vehicle on a public highway in Fairfax, Virginia, as defined in the code, that the driver automatically agrees to take the breathalyzer or, if the machine is unavailable, the person must take a blood test to find out and accurate measurement of alcohol or drugs in the driver’s system.
If you “unreasonably” refuse to take the breath or blood test, the court will, after a hearing, automatically suspend of your driver’s license for 12 months. Under these circumstances, you CANNOT get restricted driving privileges. If a person has refused to take the test after previous Virginia DUI arrests, there could be a more lengthy suspension and the Commonwealth Attorney may chose to prosecute the case criminally. The suspension does not take effect unless the Fairfax County court decides that driver “unreasonably” refused to breathe into the Intoximeter EC/IR 2. Our Fairfax DUI lawyers can explain how The Gordon Law Firm challenges refusal cases.
If you were driving a motor vehicle upon PRIVATE property in Fairfax, you are NOT required by law to take a test with the Intoximeter EC/IR 2 or a blood test. The arresting officer many times will strongly suggest to driver accused of DUI to voluntarily take the test. If the result is below .08 percent BAC, taking the test may have been a good decision. However, if there is any chance that a driver’s BAC is anywhere near .08 percent, they should strongly consider not taking the breathalyzer. “Implied consent” warnings will not be read by the Fairfax police officer prior to the breath test. Under these circumstances, if a driver accused of DUI, DWI, or any other drunk driving offense voluntarily takes the breath test, the BAC results may be used against the driver at trial in Fairfax County.
If the Fairfax County police officer chooses to have your blood taken instead of issuing a breath test, the implied consent law also applies, with the same consequences for refusing to consent to the test.
If the officer properly administered a breath test and the Intometer machine was working correctly and calibrated there are still many ways to challenge the measured BAC level before it can be entered into evidence in a DUI or DWI trial in Fairfax County courts. Fairfax DWI and DUI lawyers have been challenging the statute which allows the evidence of BAC as a “rebuttable presumption” that a driver was intoxicated at the time he operated the vehicle. Some Virginia appellate courts have decided that the “rebuttable presumption” of guilt if a person has a .08 or greater BAC is an unconstitutional, as it deprives a person’s “presumption of innocence” and improperly shifts to the defendant the burden of proof in a DUI case. These Virginia appellate courts have determined that instead of a “rebuttable presumption” of alcohol consumption, there is now a “permissive inference” of intoxication.
DUI and DWI defense lawyers in Fairfax have taken advantage of this positive change in the interpretation of the law to highlight scientific issues that have been used to defend allegations of DUI and DWI for decades.
As a result, a Fairfax DUI lawyer should ask you about:
- Your health on the day of arrest and any recent medical treatment
- Whether you were taking any prescription or over the counter medications
- What you had ate breakfast, lunch, or dinner on the day of the DUI charge
- Your weight, height, and age
- What kind of alcohol were you drinking on the day you were arrested for DUI – were they mixed drinks, tall or short glasses of beer, etc., and what are your usual drinking habits
The Gordon Law Firm’s DUI lawyer in Fairfax County, Alex Gordon, will explain how these factors may help in the defense of your case. In some DUI cases, the testimony of an expert toxicologist may be required to convince the court that the Blood Alcohol Content that was measured does not accurately reflect the amount of alcohol in the driver’s system at the time he or she was driving.
Any of these factors could be important in any DUI or DWI case in Fairfax. We encourage you to consult with an experienced Fairfax DUI attorney to thoroughly review the facts of your case. Do not presume you are going to be found guilty, lose you license, and go to jail. Armed with the facts you present to us at a free consultation, the DUI lawyers of The Gordon Law Firm will examine these factors that may have a positive effect on your case. Click here to contact us.
Our Fairfax DUI lawyer will look for weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case and attempt to present effective factual and legal arguments in order attempt to achieve a positive result at trial. Depending upon the facts of your DWI case in Fairfax County, it may be possible to convince the prosecuting attorney to minimize the amount of fines, jail time, or license suspension or even a reduction of the criminal charges. If negotiation is unsuccessful, we will work with you as we prepare for a trial of your Fairfax DWI or DUI case before a judge or jury.
How Much Are Attorney’s Fees for a Fairfax DUI charge?
Call or email us for free consultation. After listening to you and finding out the circumstances of your Fairfax DUI charge we will quote a fee during the initial office consultation. The fee depends on the facts of your case. If you have been accused of having a high blood alcohol content, were in an accident with injuries, have a bad driving record, or have had prior DUI charges, your fee will be higher than someone with a good record who had a low blood alcohol level and is being charges with their first DUI charge.
We also charge flat fees, which mean that the fee does not increase if the matter takes multiple court appearances in General District Court. The person accused does have to pay for expert witnesses or investigators if necessary and all court costs and fines.
The flat fee structure helps our clients. We believe that our clients should not be charged every time they want to communicate with their attorney. We provide you with the direct phone numbers to every attorney on our staff and we also give you our email addresses so we may be able to answer your questions and concerns at any time.
We also accept payment by all major credit cards. We may also set payment schedules if circumstances warrant.
How to Start Working Toward a Positive Result
DUI and DWI laws in Virginia are very complex. DUI and DWI related laws are printed upon more than 40 pages of the Virginia Code. In July 2004 and July 2005, the Virginia legislature dramatically changed the law and set even more severe penalties. Almost every year, the General Assembly amends the laws in order to raise the penalties for DUI and DWI. However, an experienced DUI attorney can benefit from laws’ complexity, because we make every effort on behalf of our clients to challenge a DUI charge in Fairfax County General District Court.
We strongly advise that you consult directly with a lawyer that has experience representing clients charged with DUI and DWI in Fairfax. Do not rely solely upon information found on the internet.
With your assistance, our DUI attorney will look for weaknesses in the case. As we prepare for your hearing in Fairfax County court, we will be ready to present effective legal and factual arguments to the Commonwealth’s Attorney, and if necessary, the judge or jury at trial. Depending upon the facts, our attorneys may be able to persuade the Fairfax County prosecutor to reduce the charges or minimize the amount of fines, license suspension or jail time. Of course, if necessary your attorney will be ready to go to trial and have the Commonwealth Attorney attempt to prove your case beyond a reasonable doubt.
There are four main areas of the Virginia DUI law where a DUI defense lawyer can challenge the evidence at a trial in Fairfax County court. These issues are discussed at the bottom of this page.