Newport News DUI Lawyer

The penalties for being convicted of DUI in Newport News – or anywhere in the Commonwealth – are some of the harshest in the U.S. Virginia Criminal Code Section 18.2-266. Depending on your blood alcohol level (BAC – for alcohol or blood tests for drugs) and your history of traffic violations, a DUI conviction draws a heavy fine, a likely jail sentence, and a mandatory driver’s license suspension.  And if you’re convicted of DUI three times over a 10-year “look-back” period, that third conviction is a felony, which can result in prison time. A Newport News DUI lawyer can build a defense to fight these charges and possibly avoid a conviction.

Penalties for DUI in Newport News

In Virginia, a first offense for driving while intoxicated (DWI – though the actual charge is DUI) is a class 1 misdemeanor: (Section 18.2-11(a)) and is punishable by:

  • Up to 12 months in jail
  • As much as a $2,500 fine
  • A one-year license suspension
  • Required participation in Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP) classes

The minimum BAC level for convection is 0.08, but drivers with a moderately less BAC can be convicted as well.  If BAC is “elevated” (0.15 or higher), incarceration is mandatory.  If you refuse to take a breath or blood test – even though it is your right – your license is automatically suspended for one year, and you will not qualify for a restricted license after your conviction. Section 18.2-268.3.  Second and third convictions bring enhanced minimum jail or prison sentences, as does a charge of having a minor in the vehicle at the time of the stop.  The penalty for “minor” DUI (under 21 years of age – 0.02 BAC) was recently strengthened to include a minimum fine of $500, a one-year license suspension, and 50 hours of community service. Section 18.2-266.1.  And if the BAC is 0.08 or over, adult penalties apply. If you have more questions, call a Newport News DUI lawyer today for a free consultation.

Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) in Newport News

The police officer must have reasonable suspicion to stop your car, such as speeding or erratic driving.  Once you are stopped, you will likely be asked to complete a series of Standard Field Sobriety Rests (SFSTs) to determine whether you were driving under the influence.  Whether you fail one or more of them, and to what degree, determines whether the officer has enough probable cause to support an arrest on suspicion of DUI. A DUI attorney in Newport News can explain how these tests factor in to DUI cases.

There are three common SFSTs used by law enforcement officers in a DUI traffic stop: walking in-line heel to toe (W/T), one-legged stand (OLS), and horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN). They must be conducted according to specifically stated procedures that are established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), and you may refuse to take these tests.

Chemical Blood Tests and Other Evidence

Over 90 percent of all chemical blood tests and blood alcohol tests are administered with a breathalyzer at the police station.  The other 10 percent involve an actual blood test or a urine test, though the latter is rarely used.  Whichever test you are administered needs to be within three hours from the time you were stopped by the officer.  There are very stringent guidelines for how these tests are conducted and the evidence is handled, and testing equipment standards that must be certified in order for the data to be acceptable evidence against you.  If these procedures and standards are not followed, then test results may be thrown out, and a major portion of the evidence against may go away.

With law enforcement embracing the use of video dash cams in their cruisers, as well as in the BAC testing areas and interrogation rooms at police stations, your refusal to take SFSTs when stopped – or a chemical blood test at the station – can be offset by video evidence of your behavior at any time once you are stopped.  And though it isn’t considered to be ironclad evidence t certainly can play a part in your ultimate conviction.

Newport News DUI Lawyers Can Help Protect Your License

The following is the amount of time you could lose your license upon conviction:

  • First conviction – one year
  • Second conviction – three years
  • Third conviction – indefinitely (it is returned at the discretion of the Virginia DMV)

You might be able to drive on a limited basis by petitioning the DMV for a restricted license to get to and from work or the grocery store, take your children to and from school, and do other essential errands to care for your family. You  may have to wait as long as a month before being permitted to file your request for one though.  But if you lose it for refusing to take a blood chemical test, you waive your right to apply for at least a year. A Newport News DUI lawyer can further explain DMV restricted license requests.

Now on all DUI convictions in Virginia ,  you will be required to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed on your vehicle if you wish to obtain a restricted operator’s license. Section 18.2-270.1.  Even on a first offense you will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed for a minimum of 6 months.