Prince William County First-Offense DUI Lawyer
If the accused is an adult, most first-offense DUI charges are typically heard in the Prince William County General District Court since they are misdemeanors. If the accused is a minor, the case will be heard in the Prince William County Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court.
Most prosecutors only seek to impose the mandatory minimum punishments contained in the DUI laws for first-offense DUI charges. Depending on the alleged blood alcohol concentration, this does not include a high fine or active jail time.
If you are facing a DUI charge for the first time, you should contact an accomplished DUI attorney right away. A Prince William County first-offense DUI lawyer could advocate for you and protect your best interests.
First-Offense DUI Penalties
In Virginia, a first-offense DUI conviction triggers a mandatory minimum fine of $250, a mandatory license suspension of 12 months subject to a restricted license with an ignition interlock device, and mandatory completion of alcohol probation through the Alcohol Safety Action Program (“ASAP”). If a defendant’s blood alcohol content is .15 to .19%, there are an added mandatory five days in jail. If a person’s BAC is .20 or higher, the mandatory minimum jail increases to ten days.
By law, a person convicted of DUI must successfully complete the Prince William County ASAP program, which is an alcohol-abuse based probation program. It is possible to pre-enroll into ASAP before a conviction, but that often does not result in avoiding a DUI conviction.
What Happens to a Person’s Driver’s License After a First-Time DUI?
When a person is charged with a first-offense DUI, the person’s Virginia license (or privilege to drive in Virginia) is automatically suspended for a mandatory period of seven days following the arrest. There is no eligibility for a restricted license during this pre-trial suspension window, and the court, which will hear the actual case later ,is the court that retains and returns the seized license.
After a conviction for a first-time DUI, an individual’s Virginia driver’s license (or privilege to drive in Virginia) is suspended for a mandatory period of 12 months following the date of conviction. A person is immediately eligible for a restricted license during those 12 months. Still, the restricted license must be conditioned upon successfully complying with an approved ignition interlock device for at least doc months (and up to 12 months total if ordered by the court).
During the seven-day-period of pretrial license suspension for a first-offense DUI, a defendant has the right to petition the court for a hearing to review the suspension. If the defendant proves by a preponderance of the evidence that the initial arrest or warrant was not supported by probable cause, the court must lift the suspension. A defendant can request this hearing at any time during the pretrial suspension, and these hearings are given scheduling priority on the courts’ dockets. A first-offense DUI lawyer in Prince William County could help an individual challenge a license suspension.
Building a Defense for a DUI
A Prince William County first-time DUI lawyer could help a defendant with building a strong defense. First-time DUI charges are on average the most defensible category of DUI charges to face. The possibility of a reduction to a lesser driving misdemeanor like reckless driving is highest for a first offense, especially if the BAC level is not elevated. Many people charged with first-offense DUIs do not have any criminal records at all, which provides further mitigation to leverage in securing a suitable plea offer. If someone did more than a day in jail after being arrested or is willing to do a small amount of jail on a pretrial or sentencing basis in connection with the case, some prosecutors will be much more willing to offer something other than a DUI conviction. Otherwise, the defenses to first-offense DUIs are the same as defenses to all DUIs.
Lawyers consider the circumstances of how the offenses were committed, the evidence on each side that either confirms or challenges the alleged factual narrative, a person’s individual background and record, known trial and plea policies applicable to first-offense DUIs, the particular views of the assigned judge to the case, and prior observations in dealing with the same arresting officer(s) in other criminal and traffic cases.
A Prince William County First-Offense DUI Attorney Could Help
If you have been charged with your first DUI, you should reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. Authorities take DUI cases and work hard to keep the roads safe. Fortunately, a Prince William County first-offense DUI lawyer could fight for you and possibly help you reach a favorable outcome. Call today.