If you are driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Virginia, you may face criminal charges for DUI or DWI. The general rule in Virginia is that individuals with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or above may be charged with a DUI. However, if you are under age 21, you may also be charged under zero tolerance rules. Those who are obviously intoxicated but who do not have a BAC above the legal limit may also face DUI or DWI charges.
If you face DUI or DWI charges, it is important to consult with an experienced Virginia drunk driving attorney as soon as you are informed of the charges against you. The knowledgeable legal professionals at Nichols Zauzig have helped countless clients beat or reduce DUI charges. We can put our legal expertise to work for you in your DUI case.
What are the DUI charges in Virginia?
In the state of Virginia, DUI charges are taken very seriously. Depending on your legal limit and on whether aggravating factors exist (such as having a minor in your vehicle at the time when you were driving drunk), you may face mandatory minimum jail time (for example, five days if you had a minor in the car) as well as fines and a driver’s license suspension from the DMV. If your blood alcohol content was above the legal limit, you may also be required to install an ignition interlock device on your car that will test your BAC before you can drive.
For second, third and subsequent offenses, you will face stiffer penalties. Minimum jail sentences are required from the second offense on, and you can expect to face larger fines, longer driver’s license suspensions and ultimately the loss of your driver’s license. Insurance will also become difficult to obtain, even for a first offense.
A DUI is not just a traffic offense, it is also a criminal charge. This means that your DUI may be on your record for life and may show up in pre-employment and other background checks.
Possible defenses for DUI/DWI
The consequences of a Virginia DUI/DWI are serious. You need to seek legal advice as soon as you face a DUI charge. The experienced Virginia DUI attorneys at Nichols Zauzig Sandler can help you with your defense and explore the option of pleading down to a lesser charge such as a “wet reckless.” Our attorneys can also help you to consider possible defenses to DUI including:
- A rising BAC defense wherein you claim that you were not at the legal limit while driving even if a later test shows that you were at or above the limit. This defense is based on the premise that your blood alcohol content keeps rising after you stop drinking.
- A faulty breathalyzer test. If the breathalyzer was not maintained according to manufacturer’s specifications or if the officer who tested you was not properly trained, you may be able to introduce reasonable doubt as to whether you really were over the limit.
- A violation of your constitutional rights. Police must have a reasonable suspicion of illegal activity to stop you, and they need probable cause to search you (a breathalyzer or blood test is a form of a search) or to arrest you. Evidence collected in violation of your rights may not be used against you in court.
- The attorneys at Nichols Zauzig will explore these and other defenses with you to help you to decide how best to proceed in defending yourself against Virginia DUI/DWI charges.
To help you make the most informed choice about how to handle your Virginia DUI/DWI offense, call us at 703-492-4200 or email us online to schedule a free consultation within 24 hours.