Stafford County DUI Lawyer
Stafford County is known for some of the strictest enforcement practices for driving while under the influence of alcohol. An officer only needs probable cause of driving under the influence to make an arrest and if convicted, the penalties can be quite harsh. It is vital to consult a Stafford County DUI lawyer when facing these charges.
Suspicion of DUI
An officer may pull someone over for suspicion of DUI if they are driving erratically in some way such as swerving, running a stop light, and driving in evening hours without headlights, just to name a few examples.
After pulling the individual over, the officer will look for additional signs of intoxication, such as the smell of alcohol on their breath, blood shot eyes, slurred speech, and the inability to maintain balance.
Making an Arrest
If someone is under suspicion of DUI, in order to establish probable cause for an arrest, the officer will likely want to perform a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT). The results of this test cannot be used in court for a conviction, but can and most likely will be used to make an arrest.
The driver may legally refuse this test, however, an arrest can still be made if they fail any other field tests that will most likely be administered, such as walking in a straight line, reciting the alphabet, and failing to properly answer basic questions for the officer. They may also freely refuse these field sobriety tests as well, as they are routinely used against them to gather inculpatory information. A Stafford County DUI lawyer can help clarify the rules regarding field sobriety tests.
Refusing a Breath Test
If probable cause is established and an arrest is made, the individual will then be taken to the police station where another breathalyzer test on the EC/IR2 machine will be administered to determine Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). In Stafford County, it is considered a privilege, not a right, to drive.
Therefore, in Stafford County, someone must submit to the “implied consent” law, which basically means that if they are arrested for DUI, they legally consent to the breath test administered at the police station or a blood test under certain circumstances. If they refuse, they face an additional civil offense with automatic penalties.
For example, a first offense for civil refusal carries a mandatory 12 month hard loss of license.
Penalties in Stafford County
The penalties for a DUI can be severe, depending on the particulars of the case. It is important to be aware of the possible consequences, and to work with a Stafford County DUI attorney to mitigate potential penalties.
The penalties for a first offense DUI in Stafford County include an administrative license suspension for seven days at time of arrest. A conviction will result in a minimum $250 fine with a maximum $2,500 fine, and a jail sentence of up to 12 months with potential mandatory time depending on the driver’s BAC. A first time conviction will also result in a license revocation for 12 months, possible restricted driving privileges, mandatory ignition interlock requirement upon using restricted privileges, and a requirement to Complete the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program.
A first time conviction will also go on the driver’s criminal record.
The penalties for a second offense DUI include a license suspension for up to 60 days at time of arrest. A conviction will result in a minimum $500 fine, a jail sentence of up to 12 months with mandatory minimums to serve, a 3 year loss of driving privileges, possible restricted driving privileges with mandatory ignition interlock, and a requirement to complete enhanced VASAP classes with likely treatment component.
This second conviction will also go on the driver’s permanent criminal record.
Penalties for a third offense include a license suspension until the trial at time of arrest. If convicted the driver will face potential punishments such as a class 6 felony conviction with a potential prison sentence, mandatory minimums of up to to six months in jail, indefinite license revocation, a mandatory minimum $1,000 fine, and possible seizure and forfeiture of the vehicle operated at the time of offense.
Fourth offense penalties are all of the same penalties as a third offense with the addition of a potential mandatory minimum jail sentence of one year.
Other Possible Penalties
The penalties can vary beyond those listed above depending on specific circumstances, such as age of the suspect, an elevated Blood Alcohol Content, an accident, and/or involuntary manslaughter as a result of DUI, just to name a few.
If someone is arrested for DUI in Stafford County, not only are their driving privileges in jeopardy, but if convicted, they could face harsh penalties, steep fines, a criminal record, and the very real possibility of jail time.
An experienced Stafford County DUI attorney can help someone charged with a DUI navigate their options for misdemeanors, as well as felonies, and craft the best possible defense for the most optimal outcome.