Leesburg DUI & DWI Attorney
Loudoun County DWI and DUI arrests
If you are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI), your driving privileges, insurance rates, ability to earn a living and freedom are all at risk. In Virginia, a DUI arrest is the beginning of a criminal prosecution. This means that the person under arrest has certain statutory and constitutional rights, including the right to counsel and the right to remain silent. Contact our Leesburg DWI & DUI attorneys right away.
In order to successfully prosecute a DWI or DUI arrest in Virginia, the police must follow very specific procedures spelled out in the Virginia state statutes. These procedures may involve:
- Performing roadside sobriety tests
- Obtaining preliminary breath tests
- Collecting breath and blood samples
- Advising the suspect of statutory and constitutional rights
- Using state-specified forms
- Maintaining and operating complicated breath and blood testing equipment
- Conducting chemical tests within specified time periods
- Preserving and retaining test samples and results
Police do not always properly follow the statutorily prescribed procedures. If law enforcement officers have not correctly followed the law, the case might have to be dismissed before trial or the prosecution could lose at trial. It takes an experienced DWI Loudoun attorney to obtain the records and determine whether the prosecution has followed the required procedures.
As in any other criminal law case, it is extremely important that the person under arrest should identify himself when asked by a police officer, but he or she should not answer any other questions before speaking with a Leesburg DUI defense lawyer.
How A Breathalyzer Works
Just by driving on a road in Virginia, you are giving your implied consent to submit to a breath or blood test for alcohol content if you are pulled over. Law enforcement officers utilize breathalyzers to determine whether you are driving under the influence.
In Virginia, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or greater. For persons under the age of 21, the maximum BAC is 0.02 percent. A Leesburg drunk driving attorney can provide legal guidance on penalties associated with these BACs for those in the Northern Virginia area.
But just how does a breathalyzer figure out how much you have had to drink?
What a breathalyzer does
A breathalyzer is a device featuring:
- A breath sampling system
- Two glass vials to create a chemical reaction
- A meter to measure the change in color caused by the chemical reaction
In order to measure alcohol, a suspect breathes into the device. The sample of breath is bubbled in one vial through a mixture of potassium dichromate, sulfuric acid, water and silver nitrate. At this point, the sulfuric acid removed the alcohol from the air. Then the alcohol reacts with potassium dichromate.
During this reaction, the reddish-orange dichromate ion changes color to green chromium ion when it reacts with the alcohol. The mixture is compared to an unreacted mixture, producing an electric current that causes the needle in the meter to move. The law enforcement officer then turns a knob on the meter to read the level of alcohol in the reacted mixture. This determines your blood alcohol content.
Like most machines, breathalyzers are not perfect. Some of the common usage problems include:
- Misreadings with people using asthma inhalers
- Misreadings due to mouthwash, which can contain as much as 25 percent alcohol
- Reliance on an algorithm to determine blood alcohol content
- Miscalibration of the breathalyzer system
- Low-carb diets producing ketone bodies, which can be misread as blood alcohol content by a breathalyzer
- Medical conditions that mimic impairment
Defense against breathalyzers
Being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) based on a breathalyzer test may seem hopeless. But a skilled attorney can give you hope. An attorney can look at how a breathalyzer was used, determine whether it was used correctly and uncover other factors that could have affected the reading.
Our Leesburg law firm has successfully defended DUI suspects against inaccurate or improperly administered breathalyzer and field sobriety tests. We use our knowledge of questionable readings to mitigate the case and reduce the penalties involved in a DUI. If you are arrested for a DUI or DWI in Loudoun, contact Simms Showers LLP.
Leesburg DUI attorneys outline Virginia’s DUI penalties
In 2008, 44 percent of all traffic fatalities in Virginia were linked to driving under the influence (DUI). It’s no wonder, then, that the state imposes tough penalties on DUI offenses. For those in Northern Virginia, a good Leesburg DUI lawyer can provide information on penalties for DUI and the short- and long-term effects of those penalties on your driving record and your life.
Under and out
For DUI violators less than 21 years of age, the state has a zero tolerance policy. If you are less than 21 years of age and arrested while driving with only a 0.02 percent blood alcohol content (BAC), you face:
- A $500 fine
- A six-month license suspension
- Jail time
Penalties for conviction on first DUI offense
- Mandatory minimum $250 fine
- Driver’s license revocation for one year
- Read more about DUI first offense expungement
On second DUI offense
- Mandatory minimum $500 fine
- Driver’s license revocation for three years
- Possible jail term up to one year
- If convicted within 10 years of last DUI offense, automatic minimum 10-day jail sentence
- If convicted within five years of last DUI offense, automatic minimum 20-day jail sentence
On third DUI offense
- Minimum $1,000 fine
- Mandatory, indefinite driver’s license revocation
- Prosecution as a felony
- If third DUI conviction in 10 years, possible forfeiture of your vehicle and at least 90 days in jail
- If third DUI conviction in five years, at least six months in jail
Other DUI costs
Keep in mind that when you are convicted of a DUI, you receive six demerit points from the state, which stay on your driving record for two years. This adds greatly to insurance costs.
If you have been arrested for DUI in Leesburg or the surrounding area, you need to protect your mobility, liberty, insurance rates, finances and reputation. Seek out the Simms Showers LLP for skilled, knowledgeable legal representation.
Leesburg & Loudoun County DUI & DWI FAQs
What is the difference between DUI and DWI?
The acronyms DUI (driving under the influence) and DWI (driving while impaired/intoxicated) refer to the illegal act of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. While a number of states do distinguish between DUI and DWI (typically with DWI being the more serious offense), under Virginia DUI laws, there is no difference between the two terms. Both are considered Class 1 misdemeanors with the first two convictions within a 10-year period and Class 6 felonies thereafter.
What are some relevant drunk driving statistics?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 44 percent of all Virginia traffic fatalities in 2008 were alcohol related, while 36 percent involved a driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) above the legal limit of 0.08 percent. These drunk driving statistics in Virginia were slightly higher than the national rates. Thirty-seven percent of all traffic fatalities were alcohol-related, and 32 percent of all traffic fatalities involved a driver with a BAC above the legal limit.
What are the penalties for teenage drunk driving in Loudoun County?
Consumption of any alcohol for anyone less than 21 years of age is illegal throughout the nation, although the penalties do vary from state to state. In Virginia, DUI law states that any type of teenage drunk driving is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor. If someone underage is discovered to be driving with a BAC between 0.02 and 0.08 percent, he or she faces the possibility of a fine of up to $500 and other sanctions including a license suspension.
Those less than 21 years of age who are found with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher face the same drunk driving charges and penalties as those who are of age.
What are some effects of drunk driving charges on my record and on my life?
A drunk driving charge will only affect you if you are convicted. Aside from facing whatever penalties are imposed along with a conviction, you may also be required to purchase a Virginia SR22 insurance policy before you may drive again. The SR22 insurance policies are high risk and, therefore, will cost significantly more on a monthly basis. You should make this purchase only through an insurance agency that is authorized to sell high-risk SR22 policies in order to ensure that you are being properly covered.
Will I lose my license if convicted of a DUI or DWI?
If you are convicted of a DUI in Virginia, your license will be suspended for 12 months on a first offense. If you are convicted of another DUI within 10 years, you would lose your license for up to three years. The penalties get steeper with subsequent offenses, including indefinite license suspension. An experienced DWI lawyer can help you deal with your license suspension and may be able to help you procure a restricted license during that time.
Contact a capable Leesburg DUI & DWI Attorney
With experience in both prosecuting and defending DUI cases from DUI first offense and on, attorneys at Simms Showers are highly respected in Leesburg and throughout Northern Virginia as DUI attorneys. For help, contact our Loudoun DUI/DWI attorneys as soon as possible after a DUI or DWI arrest.