For years, Police have added charges for refusal to consent to alcohol breath or blood tests using “implied consent” laws. Recent changes from the U.S. Supreme Court may have a big impact upon testing for drunk and drugged driving.
A Drunk in Public Ticket Could Ruin Your Night, and Your Record
The Tidewater region is often filled with celebrating tourists and college students. Many of these celebrations involve alcohol, and for some, they sometimes do go south. Unfortunately, tourists, college students, and Hampton Roads residents alike can fall victim to a Drunk in Public /Public Intoxication or Underage Possession, Purchase, or Consumption of Alcohol violation. When that happens, it’s important to consult an experienced Hampton Roads defense attorney to determine the best way to defend against the charge.
The charge of Drunk in Public /Public Intoxication is a Class 4 Misdemeanor, and it carries with it a maximum fine of $250. If you are charged with Drunk in Public/Public Intoxication and you simply prepay the fine, you are admitting guilt, and the conviction will appear on your criminal record. A defense attorney who is familiar with court procedures in the city where you are charged may be able to reduce your fine or get the violation dismissed altogether.
A charge of Underage Possession, Purchase, or Consumption of Alcohol in Virginia is a more serious charge – a Class 1 Misdemeanor with a punishment of up to 12 months in jail and a $2500 fine. A person who is convicted of Underage Possession, Purchase, or Consumption of Alcohol also faces a mandatory minimum $500 fine, the imposition of community service hours, and a potential driver’s license suspension. We frequently work with high school and college students and their parents on this crime (and many other drug and alcohol charges). For them, the most critical aspect is usually keeping this off the student’s permanent criminal record. Our defense attorneys understand how to work with students to keep their record clear and their future protected.
Another common alcohol-related charge is the Virginia DUI. This area of law is extremely technical, and dui defenses exist that most people have never heard of. Again, it pays to hire a Virginia Beach DUI Attorney who knows DUI law, and is well-versed in handling the various available defenses.
Virginia law enforcement officials take Underage Possession, Purchase, and Consumption of Alcohol seriously, but you do have options if you or your child has been so charged. Depending on the facts unique to your case, if you are charged with a first offense under this statute, you may be eligible for a “first offender” deferment of a finding of guilt, meaning that the charge will be dismissed if you remain of good behavior and meet other requirements imposed by the court. Note however, that every case is different, and first you will need to talk to an experienced Hampton Roads defense attorney in order to navigate the court proceedings in Underage Possession, Purchase, or Consumption of Alcohol cases.
DUI Lawyers Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads
If you find yourself in a situation in which you’ve been charged with Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs (DUI), it’s important that you know your rights, as well as what might happen during a DUI investigation. When you’re arrested for DUI (sometimes also referred to as DWI), there are certain ways to challenge the stop, the arrest, and the criminal charge. As experienced DUI Attorneys, we can help.
Winning Your DUI Case, Keeping Your Record Clear
Contrary to what many people think, you can win a DUI case and keep a clean criminal record. The government has several things they must prove, and police must strictly follow over 40 procedural steps to prove you guilty of a DUI. If they have failed to follow the law precisely during the course of your stop and arrest, and you have a DUI Defense Attorney who knows how to present that evidence to the Court, then DUI cases are winnable.
A police officer must have a valid reason for initially stopping a vehicle, like observing a person commit a traffic infraction or another crime. To begin a DUI investigation, the officer then likely will observe certain characteristics about the person, such as the odor of alcohol, slurred speech, and the like. If the officer suspects that the person has been drinking, he will ask the person to exit their vehicle and perform certain sobriety tests. If the person fails the sobriety tests, the officer then may ask the person to take a portable breath test that gives the officer a preliminary idea of the person’s blood alcohol content. The results of the portable breath test are not admissible in court. However, you should decline to take the portable breath test. The officer will use the results to determine whether he has enough probable cause to arrest you. So in a sense, taking the portable test can hurt you, but cannot help you at that point.
Next, the person may be taken to the police station to perform an official breathalyzer, or “Intoxilyzer” test. The “Intoxilyzer” machine produces a Certificate of Analysis indicating the person’s blood alcohol content. That Certificate then becomes an element of the prosecutor’s case, as long as the prosecutor has met all of the many statutory requirements for admitting the certificate. A qualified Virginia DUI Attorney can make sure those requirements are satisfied, and when they aren’t he can challenge the certificate itself, possibly preventing it from being used against you. By Virginia law, you are required to take this Intoxilyzer breath test at the police station, if they have validly arrested you for DUI. If the arrest was not valid, an experienced lawyer will be able to get the results of this test suppressed — not used in court.
Going to Court On a Virginia DUI
To get a DUI conviction, the prosecutor must prove that a person was operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08 or greater. “Operating” a motor vehicle can include just sitting at the wheel with the keys in the ignition and the car in park. But in many cases, “operating” may be more difficult to prove than you think. This is especially true in situations where the officer arrives on the scene of an accident and arrests someone for driving under the influence of alcohol without having actually seen the person driving.
Virginia police officers have been given wide latitude to conduct DUI investigations and administer field sobriety tests. If a police officer suspects that you have been drinking, he can ask you questions about whether you have actually consumed alcohol and require you to perform field sobriety tests – all without reading you your Miranda rights. The officer is allowed to administer the field sobriety tests to establish probable cause for a DUI arrest. However, you are not required to answer any questions, to perform the field sobriety tests, or to blow into the portable breathalyzer at the scene. You may sit or stand still and be completely silent. Simply say to the officer: “I won’t answer questions without a lawyer, I don’t consent to any searches, and I don’t consent to the field tests.”
However, keep in mind that because of Virginia’s “Implied Consent Law” you may not refuse to take the breathalyzer test at the police station. If police believe they have probable cause to arrest you, they will take you to the station to perform a breath test. The officer may decide to have blood drawn instead of a breath test, and the exact same rules apply – you must consent to the blood draw after being informed of Virginia’s Implied Consent Law.
Intoxication charges are serious — a first offense has a penalty of up to 12 months in jail in addition to numerous other requirements. If you have been charged, contact us for a free consultation for DUI Defense. As experienced Virginia Beach DUI Attorneys, we serve Virginia Beach and Norfolk, as well as most areas of Hampton Roads.
It’s common for college students to face a number of legal issues during their time in school. Around Hampton Roads there are a large number colleges and universities including William & Mary, Old Dominion University, Norfolk State University, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Hampton University, and Christopher Newport University among others. On each campus are thousands of young energetic minds, and every year some will get caught up in a legal issue. This can be stressful for the college student and the parents as well. Some students prefer to handle the issue themselves — never telling their parents about it. Others, involve their parents right from the start. Either way, there are a set of legal issues that are extremely common to college students. If you (or your son or daughter) find yourself mixed up in one or more of these issues, you are not alone.
College Students and Virginia Reckless Driving Tickets
Reckless Driving is tricky. You can get a Reckless Driving ticket for speeding. There are actually more than a dozen different laws in Virginia under which an officer could write a ticket for “Reckless Driving”. By far the most common Reckless Driving ticket that College Students get is Reckless Driving By Speed, which is charged under VA Code § 46.2-862. This statute says that when someone drives 20 mph over the posted speed limit, or drives faster than 80 mph no matter what the speed limit is, he is guilty of Reckless Driving. There are several other statutes and situations that qualify for a Reckless Driving charge as well.
Here is what you must know about Reckless Driving in Virginia: It is not a Traffic Offense, it is a Crime.
Reckless Driving is a misdemeanor crime in Virginia and, if convicted, becomes a part of a College Student’s criminal record, not just their driver’s record. It can be punished by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Furthermore, a conviction will usually result in higher car insurance rates, and can affect licensing and career opportunities in certain fields. College students should not face this charge without a lawyer. A Virginia Lawyer who works with college students and parents of college students understands the unique concerns regarding insurance and future career planning. I can help prevent a conviction for a crime, and in many cases can negotiate an outcome that preserves the most important goals for the college student and his or her family. Sometimes we can get the charge dismissed entirely, other times we can get it reduced to a traffic infraction instead of a misdemeanor crime, which can have a major positive effect on insurance and leaves the Student’s criminal record clear.
Virginia College Students and Underage Alcohol Offenses
College students throughout Hampton Roads, Virginia also frequently face charges for the Underage Possession, Consumption or Purchase of Alcohol. In Virginia, it is illegal for a person under the age of 21 to possess, consume, or purchase alcohol under Virginia Code § 4.1-305. This is also a misdemeanor crime, and can be punished by one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. f you are found guilty and convicted of underage possession of alcohol, there is a mandatory minimum fine of $500 or 50 hours of community service as a condition of probation supervision. If you are age 18 or older, your license will be suspended for at least six months but not more than a year.
The only way to keep such an offense off your record is to qualify for “First Offender Status” program, which has several requirements you must meet. Again, College students facing these charges should not walk through this process alone, but need qualified legal counsel.
College Students may face a variety of legal issues during their studies. If you’ve found yourself there, you can’t afford to go it alone. Contact me and let’s talk about your legal challenge and how I might be able to help you through it. The phone call is completely free and without obligation.