Fauquier County DUI Attorney
If you are facing drunk driving charges in Fauquier County, VA, the importance of hiring a Fauquier County DUI lawyer cannot be overstated. Without proper legal counsel, you could end up losing your license for a long period of time as well as spending time in jail, especially if the incident was not your first offense. Don’t assume that you will be able to explain things to the court without a lawyer—a prosecutor backed by the word of law enforcement may be able to construct the evidence in such a way that presumes your guilt, even if you feel your rights have been violated. Even if you think the case is open and shut, don’t lose hope. Among other defenses, your rights may have been violated during your arrest or police procedure may not have been properly followed, making it possible that a judge would dismiss or reduce the charges pending against you.
Fauquier County Information
As part of the Washington Metro area, Fauquier County is a part of a large urban and suburban region surrounding the nation’s capital. Because of this, those who live in this county have access to a variety of options for entertainment and cultural enrichment within the DC and surrounding areas. Because of the busy lifestyle and the opportunities for entertainment, there are also opportunities for those who enjoy going out for drinks to drink and drive—or at least to be suspected of doing so. If you frequent clubs or bars in and around this area, then you may have already experienced this. Take the time today to call for a free consultation with a Virginia DUI lawyer. For more info on the DUI laws applicable in Fauquier County and the rest of Virginia, check out this brochure from the commonwealth’s DMV.
DUI Laws and Information for Fauquier County
According to Virginia law, you can be charged in Fauquier County with driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol when operating a motor vehicle – or water craft – if:
- You have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or greater;
- You are “under the influence of alcohol” to the point of obvious impairment to the arresting officer – even if your BAC is less than 0.08 percent;
- Your ability to drive is affected by the influence of cocaine, methamphetamines, PCP, ecstasy and many other drugs;
- You are under the influence of any measurable amount of drugs and alcohol combined.
If you are charged with DUI, even for a first-time offense, you face the possibility of suspension of your license for at least seven days, fines, and potential jail time. DUI convictions almost guarantee that your vehicle insurance rates will go up sharply and your policy might even be cancelled. You might also be ordered to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle – at your expense – to monitor your drinking. The device works by disabling the engine if you have more than the acceptable amount of alcohol in your system. Some courts require that you have no measurable amount of alcohol, other judges may set the limit quite low, around 0.02 percent.
A skilled Fauquier County DUI lawyer can, however, challenge much of the evidence that is claimed by prosecutors and police in DUI cases in this region and he will fight to get your case dismissed or the charges reduced and will work to mitigate any potential penalties you face. Although a DUI charge may seem fairly straightforward, there are actually quite a few legal considerations that need attention. Before a person can be convicted of this crime, there are several things that must be proven:
- The individual was driving or using a vehicle.
- The vehicle must be a motor vehicle as defined by the Code of Virginia.
- The individual needs to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol in order for them to be convicted.
Some issues that could be questioned include the following:
- Would a vehicle such as a lawn mower count as a motor vehicle?
- Was the individual “operating” the motor vehicle as interpreted by the relevant case law
- Are the drugs legal/prescribed and used within therapeutic levels?
There are several defenses that can be used by your Fauquier DUI attorney as well. Some of them include the following:
- The defense can challenge the efficacy and administrative procedures for the test done for blood alcohol content.
- The defense can challenge whether the individual was lawfully stopped or encountered in the first place.
- The defense can challenge the standard field sobriety tests (SFSTs) that were done on the individual being accused of driving under the influence prior to their arrest.
What if My DUI Test Results Were Wrong?
There are a series of tests that officers and prosecutors rely upon to achieve DUI convictions. Roadside standard field sobriety tests (SFSTs) are used by officers to establish probable cause that a driver is impaired and therefore should be subjected to further tests, such as a Breathalyzer exam. SFSTs are based on physical coordination and mental acuity – both of which can be inhibited when a person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There are, however, many other reasons that a person may not “pass” these balance tests. Obesity, certain health conditions, high heels, and many other issues can lead to a person performing below what the officer considers to be an acceptable standard. Many of these issues can and frequently are legally challenged in DUI cases.
Breathalyzer tests are also not fail-safe. The machines much be properly calibrated and maintained regularly. The tests must also be administered properly for the results to be completely accurate. Even blood tests, which are used less often, can produce erroneous results, particularly if the lab or the police were not careful in the handling of the evidence.
DUI Penalties in Fauquier County
DUI charges are Class 1 misdemeanors in Virginia. Therefore a first-time conviction for having a BAC of 0.08 percent can conceivably result in a fine of no less than $250 up to $2,500 and up to a year in jail. Those with a BAC of .15 to 0.19 may face an additional mandatory minimum of five days in jail. If their BAC measures 0.2 or more, they face an additional mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail. See Section 18.2-270.
For a second DUI conviction within five years, the penalties increase to one month to one year in jail and a fine of $500 to $2,500 and a mandatory minimum of 20 days in jail. See 18.2-270(B)(1). A second DUI conviction within a 10 year period will result in the same jail and fine rates, but the mandatory minimum of jail time drops to 10 days.
Those convicted of DUI for a third time within 10 years face a Class 6 felony charge and a three-month mandatory minimum sentence and a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000. The sentence can, however, range from one to five years, if the court choses to enforce the maximum penalties. Those so convicted within five years face a mandatory minimum of six months in jail and a fine of no less than $1,000. Again, the term can range up to five years in prison and up to $2,500 in fines.
Also, all those convicted of DUI in Fauquier County, and throughout Virginia, are required to complete the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (pdf link here). Driver’s license suspension varies depending on the number of previous DUI convictions. For a first-time offense, a one-year suspension may be ordered and if the person’s BAC was above .15 percent they may be ordered to install an ignition interlock device. After a second DUI conviction, the license suspension can be increased to three years and the ignition interlock device may be required regardless of the BAC. A third DUI conviction can result in an indefinite license suspension, though the driver may petition to have their license reinstated after five years. Their license reinstatement, however, will require that they have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle.
Support from a Fauquier DUI Attorney
If you have been accused of driving under the influence, you may be discouraged by the accusations against you and nervous as to how this accusation will affect your life. Your charges may already be negatively impacting your professional and social life, whether or not you are guilty. The whole process can be an embarrassment for you and your employer. During this time of unease, you could benefit immensely from the assistance of a Fauquier County criminal defense lawyer, particularly one with experience with all aspects of DUI defense.
A Fauquier County DUI Lawyer has experience trying DUI cases in Warrenton and throughout Fauquier County, though his legal experience extends far beyond county lines (see our general DUI page for more information on the many jurisdictions in which Patrick and his team can offer top-notch DUI defense). This includes providing defense services for other criminal charges in Fauquier County, including the community of Warrenton.
Not only do our attorneys know how to deal with the legal side of your situation, but they have dealt with many people in your same position and they can provide you with the support that you will need to get through the legal process. Call and set up a free first consultation. You will not regret taking the time to call and to get the help that you need in order to get through ordeal with as little damage as possible to your record, your finances, and your future.