If you are facing a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction in Virginia, it may seem that you have no chance to beat a DUI charge in court. However, with a skilled and dedicated criminal defense attorney on your side, you may be able to protect your rights and avoid a DUI conviction.
Schedule a free case evaluation with our lawyers at Bain Sheldon to discover potential defenses against a DUI charge in Virginia.
Defenses Against DUI Charges in Virginia
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, your attorney will help you choose the most appropriate DUI defense strategy. These are the eight most common defense strategies to fight against DUI charges in Virginia.
Lack of Reasonable Suspicion
As in other states, law enforcement officers in Virginia are required to have “reasonable suspicion” in order to lawfully stop your vehicle. If the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to pull you over, your resulting DUI arrest would be deemed invalid, while the charges against you would be dismissed.
Lack of Probable Cause
If you were arrested for driving under the influence in Virginia, the arresting officer must demonstrate evidence of probable cause for arrest. The lack of probable cause allows you to challenge the validity of the arrest.
Challenging a DUI Field Sobriety Test
Before arresting you, a police officer will require a series of field sobriety tests to warrant the DUI arrest. Like all other states, Virginia has a list of guidelines on how field sobriety tests must be administered in order for the results to be deemed valid. An officer’s failure to follow the guidelines will invalidate the results of the DUI field sobriety test.
Previously, we discussed whether you can refuse a field sobriety test in Virginia. In Virginia, drivers automatically consent to a breath or blood test by operating a vehicle on the state’s highways, according to Virginia’s DUI law.
Challenging the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test
In some cases, motorists facing a DUI conviction can challenge the results of the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test, also known as the eye test. When a person is impaired by alcohol, the involuntary jerking of his or her eyes become very noticeable. The HGN test is designed to examine the involuntary jerking of the driver’s eyes.
A skilled DUI defense lawyer on your side could argue that the results of the HGN test are inadmissible as evidence, especially in the absence of other tests (field sobriety, breathalyzer, or blood test).
Challenging the Breath Test
In many cases, police officers in Virginia administer a breath test after stopping a driver suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol. There are two different types of breath tests in Virginia:
- The Preliminary Breath Test (PBT), which can be performed in the field; and
- The breathalyzer test that occurs at the police station itself.
Under the Virginia Administrative Code, 6 VAC 40-20-170, there are strict requirements for the proper administering of the Preliminary Breath Test. One of them is that the PBT device cannot have a systematic error rate that exceeds 10%. If the PBT device did not comply with the requirements or the law enforcement officer failed to properly administer the PBT test, your DUI defense attorney in Richmond will help you fight the charges against you.
Challenging the Blood Test
There are many requirements for administering a blood test in Virginia. When a blood test is administered improperly, the results of the test will be inadmissible as evidence in your DUI case.
Previously, we discussed whether you can go to jail if you were convicted of a DUI for the first time in Virginia.
Using the Rising-Blood-Alcohol Defense
In some cases, motorists can use the rising-blood-alcohol defense, which refers to their blood alcohol concentration (BAC). You can use the defense to argue that your BAC level was below the legal limit (in Virginia, the legal limit for BAC is 0.08%) while driving, but it increased above the legal limit during your blood test, which usually occurs at a police station several hours later.
Your Constitutional Rights Were Violated
If your constitutional rights were violated during a traffic stop or arrest, you could contest the DUI charge filed against you. It is advised to speak with a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer in Richmond or other parts of Virginia to identify the best strategy to beat a DUI charge. With an office location in Richmond, we represent drivers throughout Central Virginia, including in Petersburg, Glen Allen, Mechanicsville, Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover, Goochland, New Kent, Dinwiddie, Hopewell, Colonial Heights, Powhatan, Prince George and Ashland.
Contact our skilled lawyers at Bain Sheldon to schedule a consultation about your particular case. Call at 804-282-8625 or fill out our contact form for a free case review.