Facing a DUI charge in Virginia is a stressful experience, especially if it’s your first time getting such a charge. The anxiety can be overwhelming, and you likely have many questions. The question at the top of your mind might be whether it is possible to have a first-time DUI offense dismissed. Fortunately, the Richmond DUI defense attorneys at Bain Sheldon are well-equipped to guide you through this challenging period. Today, we’re discussing the ins and outs of getting that first DUI charge off your record.
Virginia DUI (DWI) Laws
The Code of Virginia says it’s a crime to drive a car while intoxicated by alcohol or any other substance. While a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08 percent is the threshold at which drivers are automatically presumed to be intoxicated, it’s a crime to drive a car under the influence of any substance that “impairs [the driver’s] ability to drive or operate any motor vehicle … safely.” In other words, prosecutors can charge you with DWI even if your BAC is less than 0.08 percent.
As far as DWI penalties go, Virginia law says that a first-time DWI charge is a Class 1 misdemeanor in most instances. A first-time DWI offense in Virginia carries a minimum fine of $250. Additional penalties can include up to 12 months in jail, a one-year driver’s license suspension, and having an ignition interlock system installed in your car.
Getting a First-Time DWI Offense Dismissed in Virginia
Having a first-time DWI dismissed in Virginia is possible, but it’s not easy. You’ll likely need help from an experienced Richmond DWI defense lawyer to have the charge dismissed. Some possible defenses to a first-time DWI charge that could result in a dismissed case include:
- Faulty Breathalyzer Test: Sometimes, the breathalyzer equipment police use to determine whether you were intoxicated may be faulty or improperly calibrated, which could lead to incorrect readings. Challenging the test’s accuracy could result in prosecutors dropping the case against you.
- Improper Stop: Law enforcement must have had reasonable suspicion to pull you over in the first place. If the traffic stop was unwarranted, any evidence collected during that stop could be thrown out, which could cause the prosecution to drop the case against you.
- Civil Rights Violations: If law enforcement failed to read you your rights or did not have proper cause for your arrest, this could be grounds for dismissing your DWI charge.
- Chain of Custody Issues: The way police handle evidence, such as blood samples from chemical DWI tests, is crucial. Any missteps in the process could make the evidence inadmissible in court.
- Insufficient Evidence: Sometimes, the prosecution simply doesn’t have enough evidence to prove you were operating a vehicle while intoxicated beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Field Sobriety Test Errors: These tests are not foolproof and can be influenced by various factors like nervousness, medical conditions, or even the surface you stood on where the police conducted the test. Pointing out these flaws could weaken the prosecution’s case.
- Medical Reasons: Medical conditions can sometimes mimic the symptoms of intoxication. Proving that your appearance or behavior resulted from a medical condition could also lead to the charges being dismissed.
Our Richmond DWI Defense Lawyers Can Protect Your Rights and Freedom
Don’t underestimate the power of a solid defense strategy when you’re facing a first-time DWI charge in Virginia. At Bain Sheldon, we’re committed to arming you with the information and legal representation you need to fight these charges effectively. With support from the right defense team, the possibility of getting your first-time DWI dismissed becomes much more realistic. Call 804-282-8625 now or complete our contact form for a confidential consultation.