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As we enter the holiday season, there are plenty of office parties, community gatherings, and other methods of enjoying the seasonal festivities. But on the flip side, the authorities are now out in full force to ensure the safety of the streets. While imbibing and celebrating is a part of the holiday season, it is always important to keep aware of how much you’ve had to drink, eat, and whether you’re safe to drive home. The rule is simple: if you’ve had anything to drink while you’re celebrating the holidays – just don’t drive. Call a cab, an Uber, or have a sober friend drive you home. That said, it is important that you realize what your rights are as a driver in Virginia, especially with regard to a first time DUI offense in Virginia.
Fairfax DUI Check Points
First of all, sobriety (DUI) check points are legal in Virginia. At these DUI check points, the police set up temporary and random stop points where they are legally authorized to briefly detain and interview the driver to gauge their sobriety. Any drivers that the police officers determine to be suspicious can be asked to step out of the their vehicles and perform field sobriety test. Obviously, the purpose of these goals is to find and stop any inebriated drivers in order to keep the roads safe at times when people tend to be out celebrating. But there are some restrictions – for instance, not all cars can be stopped at a checkpoint. Rather, cars must be stopped according to a mathematical formula to ensure that it is a random process. But this means that the vehicles are not stopped according to how they are driving or how the driver appears to the officer from the windshield.
But Doesn’t the Police Officer Require Probable Cause In Order to Stop a Driver?
Normally this is the case, but the United States Supreme Court has ruled that the dangers from drunk drivers outweigh the perceived intrusion on the driver’s privacy committed by DUI checkpoints and are exceptions to the general search and seizures laws provided by the U.S. Constitution. The constitutionality argument is actually quite a bit more complicated than this simplified answer, but it at least a general answer: Yes, the police can legally stop you at a DUI checkpoint without any specific probable cause relating to your driving or inebriation.
First Offense DUI in Fairfax
First offense DUI convictions in Fairfax and throughout Northern Virginia carry no mandatory minimum jail sentence, except if the driver had a BAC in excess of .15 (any BAC over .08 is considered legally intoxicated). A BAC in excess of .15 has a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 5 days. Similarly, a BAC in excess of .20 has a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 10 days.
Additionally, for all DUI convictions, including first time convictions, there is a fine and a suspension of your drivers license.
What Can you Do For a First Time DUI Offense?
Even when there are statutory minimums in play due to an elevated BAC, there is no law in Virginia that prohibits pleading down an DUI charge into a lesser criminal offense, such as either reckless driving or DUI with a .08 BAC (which does not carry a minimum jail sentence). The ability to either fight a DUI charge in court or to negotiate a lesser criminal offense, however, is contingent upon the use of qualified and experienced Fairfax DUI attorney.
Contact the attorneys at Ervin Kibria PLLC today to discuss your DUI case. Let’s work together and figure out the best course of action to protect your rights and fight on your behalf!
Justin Ervin is a criminal defense and immigration attorney who practices in Northern Virginia.
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Fax: (866) 709-5280