Manassas DUI Lawyer
Even though ride-share services are readily available, people often take their chances getting behind the wheel after a night of drinking. A drunk driving arrest is not only embarrassing for the individual charged, but can also limit their opportunities for future employment. Additional consequences of DUI convictions are hefty fines, possible jail time, suspended driver’s licenses, and more.
Following a DUI arrest, you need legal representation from the best Manassas DUI lawyers in the game. At The Manassas Law Group, our team of experienced Manassas criminal defense attorneys will work towards getting your charges reduced or dropped entirely. Our attorneys have represented clients charged with various criminal offenses throughout Prince William County and surrounding areas in Virginia. We understand that our clients want to see successful results as quickly as possible. You can trust that your experienced DUI attorney at the Manassas Law Group will provide an aggressive defense against your drunk driving charges so you can get back to your life.
What is Considered a DUI/DWI in Virginia?
Virginia does not distinguish between DUI, driving under the influence, and DWI, driving while intoxicated. DUI/DWI charges are used interchangeably since those facing charges are punished according to the same code. Virginia Code Section 18.2-266 outlines the state’s DUI/DWI laws.
According to §18.2-266, the following actions are considered unlawful for anyone driving or operating a motor vehicle:
- A breath or blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or greater
- Under the influence of alcohol, it is defined as a person that is drunk enough to affect their speech, manner, disposition, movements, general appearance, or behavior.
- Under the influence of drugs that make driving difficult or unsafe
- A blood concentration of the following:
- 0.1 milligrams of methamphetamine per liter
- 0.02 milligrams of cocaine per liter
- 0.1 milligrams of MDMA/ Ecstasy per liter
- 0.01 milligrams of PCP per liter
You can still be charged with a criminal offense if your breath or blood test does not equal the above numbers. The prosecuting attorney just needs to prove that your driving ability was impaired based on witness statements, field sobriety tests, the arresting police officers, and more.
Underage DUI/DWI Laws in Virginia
Virginia has a zero-tolerance policy for those driving or operating a motor vehicle while under the influence and under 21 years of age. Virginia Code Section 18.2-266.1 states that it is illegal for anyone under 21 to drive or operate a vehicle with a BAC of 0.02 % or more. While it’s not considered an actual DUI/DWI charge, it still results in similar consequences. If convicted, the driver could lose their driving privilege for one year and either pay a minimum fine of $500 or perform 50 hours of community service. When an underage person is charged with a DUI/DWI, it’s commonly referred to as a “Baby DUI” or Driving After Illegally Consuming Alcohol.
The Virginia DWI/DUI Definition of “Driving”
Virginia is one of the states where a person can still face DUI charges even if their vehicle is not in motion. A person can be arrested for drunk driving if they are driving or operating a vehicle. Operating is defined as being in “acute physical control” of the vehicle, whether the engine is running or not. So you could be charged with a DUI if you’re sitting in your car on a cold night waiting for your Uber to show up if you’ve been drinking.
In 2015, a Virginia man was convicted of DUI/DWI even though he was asleep in his vehicle in the parking lot of a restaurant. In Commonwealth v. Hansell Lopez, the Courts ruled that because he had his car’s keyfob in his hand, he was guilty of being in “acute physical control” of the vehicle even though the car was not running.
Criminal Penalties for DUI Charges in Virginia
Drunk driving charges are a serious criminal offense because the driver is risking not only their life but those around them when they get behind the wheel. The criminal penalties of a drunk driving arrest will vary based on prior offenses the individual has committed.
- First DWI/DUI Offense: A suspended driver’s license for one year and a mandatory minimum fine of $250.
- Second DWI/DUI Offense: A mandatory minimum fine of $500 and a three-year suspended license. If the first offense was within ten years of the second, the offender could spend up to one year in jail with a minimum of ten days. If the first offense was five years prior, the offender could spend at least 20 days in jail.
- Third DWI/DUI Offense: An indefinitely suspended license, a minimum $1,000 fine, and a Class 6 felony charge. If this is the third offense in ten years, the offender must permanently forfeit their vehicle if they’re the sole owner and spend a minimum of 90 days in jail. If the third offense is within five years, the jail term is a minimum six-month sentence.
- Fourth DWI/DUI Offense: A mandatory minimum one-year jail sentence.
Other Consequences to Consider
In addition to fines and possible jail time, DUI charges have many other consequences that can affect a person’s life. Not only can a DUI arrest be embarrassing, but it can also be costly and make performing everyday activities difficult.
- Driver’s License Suspension: Many DUI offenders lose their license for a period of time. Depending on prior convictions, this can either be a few months or years. Loss of license can make going to work, getting groceries, and spending time with family and friends difficult – and also costly if you have to get rides through a ride-share service.
- Job Opportunities: A DUI arrest and conviction can affect both your current and future jobs. Juggling a full-time job plus court dates, community service, or jail time can put your livelihood at risk. If you’re looking for employment, your record could affect the opportunities available. Most employers run background checks and will see a DUI conviction on your record that could prevent them from hiring you, even if the job has nothing to do with your drunk driving offense.
- Professional Licenses: Many states require you to report the offense to the licensing board. Individuals with medical licenses, teaching licenses, and CDLs can face additional consequences and potentially lose their licenses and job.
- Background Checks: As mentioned above, employers run background checks on potential employees. In addition to employers, financial institutions, colleges, and landlords also run background checks. A DUI conviction can make getting a loan, applying for college or scholarships, or getting your dream home challenging.
- Auto Insurance: After a DUI arrest and conviction, your auto insurance will likely increase if they do not completely terminate your coverage.
So not only does a person charged with drunk driving face criminal charges, fines, and possible jail time, their life can be completely turned upside down. Dealing with the consequences of a DWI/DUI can also put a strain on your relationships with family and friends. If you’ve been arrested for drunk driving, you need an experienced DUI defense attorney on your side. At the Manassas Law Group, we understand how devastating a drunk driving arrest and conviction can be, which is why we will aggressively fight the charges against you.
Prince William County DUI Defenses
If you’ve been charged with a DUI in Prince William County, you have the chance to fight against those charges. If you’ve been arrested on drunk driving charges, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney representing you. At the Manassas Law Group, our DWI defense attorneys have the experience and knowledge to fight even the most severe DWI/DUI charges.
The Prince William County DUI defense attorneys at Manassas Law Group have used the following defenses when representing those fighting drunk driving charges.
- Invalid traffic stop: A police officer must suspect a driver is under the influence based on speeding or swerving between lanes before being pulled over. If it’s proven that the officer had no reason to pull you over, all evidence related to the drunk driving arrest, including breathalyzer tests and field sobriety tests, could be thrown out.
- Lack of probable cause: The arresting officer must have probable cause to charge you with a DUI. This can be shown with slurred speech, alcohol on the breath, and failed field sobriety tests. However, if your DUI defense attorney is able to find the officer lacked probable cause when arresting you, the related evidence could be inadmissible.
- Faulty field sobriety test: There are strict rules that police officers must follow when conducting standardized field sobriety tests. Your Manassas DUI lawyer can challenge the results from the field sobriety test if they determine they did not follow the proper protocol, which can cause the judge to rule the results invalid.
- Unreliable breath and blood tests: The technology used to perform blood and breath alcohol tests is not always accurate. The test results can be disputed if the breathalyzer is calibrated incorrectly or the tests were not administered properly.
- Violated constitutional rights: If any of your rights were violated during your arrest, like unlawful search or the right to remain silent, the charges could be dismissed.
Why You Need the Experienced DUI Lawyers at Manassas Law Group On Your Side
If you’re facing a possible DUI conviction, your future could be in serious trouble and should not be taken lightly. Whether facing your first or fourth DUI charge, you need the best DUI attorney available.
At the Manassas Law Group, we help northern Virginia and Prince William County residents fight against criminal charges like DUIs. We also handle personal injury cases, estate planning, civil litigation, and more. We understand that a successful drunk driving criminal defense strategy comes down to knowing how to challenge the evidence against you and when to force the prosecution to prove their case in court.
Call the Manassas Law Group to Speak to an Experienced Virginia DUI Defense Attorney Today
If you’ve been charged with drunk driving and face a DUI conviction, don’t wait any longer to begin planning your defense strategy with a qualified Manassas DUI attorney. Contact the Manassas Law Group to schedule an initial consultation by calling (703) 361-8246 or filling out our online contact form.