All driving under the influence (DUI) charges are serious, whether it is someone’s first, second, or even, third or fourth time. Even if there were no prior violations, a drunk driver could be facing a significant fine and possibly even incarceration. You may need the help of an Arlington first-offense DUI lawyer in navigating this unfamiliar legal process and fighting the charges you are facing.
Every situation is unique, so the approach for each case must be tailored to the specific circumstances. However, every case must start with your DUI attorney collecting any relevant evidence to start building an effective case.
In a DUI case, especially a first-time DUI, there are several factors that lawyers must consider before crafting a defense strategy. Some of these factors are going to include how the individual encountered law enforcement. Depending on the circumstances of the driver’s first contact with law enforcement prior to arrest, the stop, investigation, or arrest itself may be unlawful.
After determining whether the officer legally started the interaction with the defendant, they could begin to challenge the veracity of tests and investigation methods. Field sobriety tests are notoriously unreliable, and breathalyzers are susceptible to human operational error. If there is an issue with any of these testing methods, a seasoned first-time DUI attorney could potentially have the results suppressed and the charges dropped.
After a first-time drunk driving charge in Arlington, the defendant generally loses their license for a minimum of seven days. The factors under which one loses their license more permanently is if they take a breath test with the EC/IR II machine and their breath test is above a 0.08 or if they are charged for refusal of a breath or blood test. In both a refusal circumstance and a positive EC/IR II result, the person’s license would be administratively suspended at the time of their arrest.
If a defendant is convicted of a first-offense DUI in Arlington, Virginia law requires that their driving privileges in the commonwealth be suspended for a period of 12 months. Even out-of-state license holders would lose their right to drive in Virginia for 12 months. Those privileges could be fully or conditionally reinstated via a restricted license in certain situations.
However, there is a procedural process to challenge the administrative suspension by filing a petition in the general district court. First-offense contests of the administrative license suspension are very rare for several reasons. The most common reason is that the administrative suspension goes away after seven days.
The standard for undoing or removing an administrative license suspension for a first offense is high as a driver and their attorney must affirmatively prove that the officer either lacked probable cause for encountering them, or that the officer charged the wrong person.
An individual could not receive a restricted license for the period of their administrative license suspension. That seven-day period is a hard loss of license pursuant to the administrative license statute. However, if they lose their license as a result of being convicted of a DUI offense in Arlington and are subject to the 12-month loss of driving privileges in Virginia or loss of Virginia driver’s license, the driver may file a petition with the court to receive restricted driving privileges.
In general, the process for obtaining a restricted license includes providing the court with a restricted license application detailing where they need to drive, at what times, and on which dates. After this, drivers from Arlington and their first DUI defense lawyer must go to court and present that they are both a good driver, and that they have a bona fide need to drive.
The biggest mistakes to avoid for first-time DUI defendants are not taking their case seriously and failing to consult a dedicated Arlington DUI lawyer to represent them during the legal process. It is essential to choose an attorney based on their experience handling local drunk driving cases. To consult an Arlington first-offense DUI lawyer, call today.
Patrick Woolley Attorney At Law