There are several ways hiring a lawyer may be of benefit to Virginia drivers who have been charged with DUI.
Each day, numerous people throughout Virginia are stopped on suspicion of, and charged with, driving under the influence of alcohol. In fact, the Virginia State Police report there was a total of 21,380 DUI arrests across the state in 2015 alone. Even if it is their first run-in with law enforcement, such charges may have serious consequences. While some choose to act as their own legal representatives in such cases, it behooves those who have been charged with drunk driving to consider some of the benefits of working with a DUI lawyer.
Understanding the laws
When they are arrested and charged with DUI, many assume the authorities have done everything above-board, unless there are glaring violations of their rights. That is not always the case, though, and drunk driving lawyers may get statements from their clients and other witnesses, review police videos, and take other measures to ensure people’s rights were upheld throughout the process.
Most drivers know they can be arrested for drunk driving if they are stopped and found to have a blood alcohol content, or BAC, level of 0.08 or higher. They may not know, however, that they can also be charged if the authorities believe their ability to operate their vehicles is impaired as a result of alcohol consumption. Attorneys who focus on DUI defense are familiar with the intricacies of the law, and may help ensure their clients have been appropriately charged.
Challenging the evidence
In addition to the arresting law enforcement officers’ observations and reports, DUI arrests and charges are often based on people’s performance on field sobriety tests and their breath test readings. To many, such evidence may seem insurmountable. However, legal representatives who handle drunk driving cases know there are numerous factors that may affect these results. Thus, they may examine the evidence and circumstances from every angle in order to ascertain whether environmental conditions at the time of testing, diet, a medical condition or other factors might have contributed to a falsely high BAC result. Further, lawyers may understand how to present this type of information to a judge or jury in a way that calls the evidence into question.
Handling the consequences
If they are convicted or plead guilty to driving under the influence, people may be subject to varying penalties. First-time offenders, for example, may have their driving privileges revoked for one year and be fined a minimum of $250. Drivers may face additional, more severe consequences if their BAC level exceeds 0.15 percent, if they refuse a breath test or other aggravating factors exist.
DUI attorneys are familiar with the mandatory sentencing minimums and maximums, as well as the options in between. They may draw on their knowledge to help limit the penalties, and by extension, the potential long-term effects of drivers’ arrests on their personal and professional lives.
Protecting drivers’ rights
When they are charged with DUI in Virginia, many drivers leave their interests and freedom in the hands of the system and the authorities. However, obtaining legal counsel may help them ensure their rights are protected through the process. A lawyer may help those charged with drunk driving understand their options and how the laws apply to their situations, as well as aid them in establishing a solid criminal defense.