DWI

Consult APLG About Your DWI Charge

APLG understands that many people who have consumer financial issues may also be facing criminal charges. In fact, many times these criminal charges play a big role in ruining peoples’ finances to begin with. Virginia is a relatively strict jurisdiction when it comes to criminal offenses, and in particular charges of DWI. Virginia treats these offenses as Class 1 Misdemeanors, which are the most severe class and carry a penalty of up to $2500 in fines and an automatic one year license suspension for first offenses. These convictions carry the possibility of jail time and usually end up costing thousands of dollars in some combination of court costs, fines, ASAP treatment/education classes, ignition interlock, DMV reinstatement fees and increased insurance premiums. They will also go on your permanent criminal record.

For this reason, APLG strongly advises that anyone charged with these offenses in Virginia consult with a local attorney to evaluate their case and advise on the best courses of action. Once you are convicted, there is almost nothing an attorney can do to help your case. The prices for these legal services vary greatly from firm to firm, but, as always, APLG will make every attempt to defend your case for a reasonable and affordable fee based on your individual situation. The most important thing to look for in an attorney is someone who knows the governing laws in your jurisdiction, which change quite frequently, and the rules of evidence, i.e. what can and can’t be used by the prosecutor to prove their case against you. In cases where the admissible evidence is overwhelming, an attorney can still help find technical holes in the Commonwealth’s case and/or negotiate a deal with the prosecutor.

Ways to Attack a DWI Charge

  1. The Traffic Stop – As with all traffic stops, the Commonwealth must prove that the arresting officer had reason to stop you in the first place, i.e. a “reasonable suspicious” that you a crime or traffic violation was being committed. If we can show that there was reasonable suspicious to justify a stop, then the entire case will be dismissed.
  2. The Arrest – Even when the arresting officer has reasonable suspicious to pull you over and question you, the Commonwealth must also establish that the officer had “probable cause” to arrest you for the DWI. This essentially means they must establish the arresting officer had evidence sufficient to establish it was more likely than not that you were driving while intoxicated. If we can there was no probable cause for the arrest, the entire case is dismissed.
  3. The Field Tests and Breathalyzer – Most Virginia drivers don’t realize that they are NOT required to consent to these tests. However, even if you have consented to the test, there may be ways to challenge their reliability in assessing your state or level of intoxication. If we can challenge the reliability of these tests, then we can also challenge the probable cause for the arrest.
  4. The Breath Test in Jail – Unfortunately, Virginia law now requires drivers arrested for a DWI to take the blood or [more often] breath test administered at the jailhouse. If you refuse to take this test and the judge determines this refusal was “unreasonable”, you will be convicted with a separate crime of refusal which will result in an automatic suspension for one year (two years if you are also convicted of the DWI) without the possibility of a restricted license. On the other hand, a refusal may make it harder for the Commonwealth to prove the DWI since they will have not have a BAC reading and will have to rely on the arresting officer’s testimony. There are also ways to challenge the reliability or procedures used in administering the jailhouse blood or breath test.

As you can see, defending against a DWI can get extremely complicated, and since the Virginia court system likes to act fast, the sooner you hire professional help the better. Please consider contacting APLG for a free initial consultation.