Prosecutors and the courts in Alexandria consider DUI cases to be a potential danger to the public and therefore handle these cases seriously regardless of whether or not this is a first time offense. For this reason it is important those accused take their charge as seriously as possible and consult with an Alexandria first offense DUI lawyer to ensure a strong defense is built. For more information on your charges and what you may be facing, consult with a DUI attorney in Alexandria today.
If charged with DUI, an individual is facing a Class 1 Misdemeanor which carries a potential penalty of up to 12 months in jail, a $2,500.00 fine, or a combination thereof. For a first offense DUI, the mandatory minimum punishment carries a fine of $250, as long as your blood alcohol content (BAC) is under 0.15. However, if your BAC is above 0.15 but less than 0.20, the mandatory minimum sentence rises to at least five days in jail. If your BAC is above 0.20, that mandatory minimum jumps to 10 days. For a repeat offense, or offenses involving other accelerating factors, you may face higher fines and more mandatory minimum jail time making it important an Alexandria first offense DUI attorney is consulted.
In Virginia, there is no diversion program for DUI first offenses; however, an individual may be sentenced to a period of probation and a period of diversionary-type classes as a result of a DUI conviction. Unlike neighboring jurisdictions that offer diversion programs, such as pre-trial or pre-conviction alternatives, they do not typically exist in the City of Alexandria or Virginia.
Many DUI cases are negotiated with the Commonwealth’s Attorney, rather than going to trial. However, if the case does go trial at the Alexandria General District Court level, the judge decides what outcome is best suited to the individual case.
DUI charges are viewed as a serious threat to public safety and a threat to someone’s own interest. It also can be indicative of a substance abuse problem. Therefore, the courts view these cases very seriously and will review the specific facts and circumstances of each case to determine the appropriate disposition.
In Virginia, an individual accused of DUI does not have the right to a jury trial at the general district court level. Instead, in order to have a DUI trial with a jury, the person charged must appeal the findings of the general district court to the circuit court where they can request a misdemeanor jury trial.
Every DUI case is different and each judge and jury will handle the case differently and is fact specific. There is no way to determine which trial, by judge or by jury, will handle the case easier or harder. Typically, judges are more predictable at sentencing, while juries are often a wild card making it important you have a first offense DUI lawyer in Alexandria who is familiar with both.
An Alexandria first offense DUI lawyer who defends DUIs on a regular basis, can work hard to preserve certain types of evidence and conduct an investigation in order to prepare the strongest defense possible. This includes applying the discovery responses, and any video evidence that may be appropriate, as well as the attorney’s training and understanding of DUI-related investigations by officers. This includes using the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA guideline for field sobriety testing, understanding how the Virginia breath test machine, also known as the EC/IR II, works, and understanding where defenses may lie based on DUI case law.
Patrick Woolley Attorney At Law