Some Potential Defenses for DUI Under Virginia Law

All DUI cases are different and can involve radically different facts and situations. You must consult an experienced DUI defense attorney to determine if any of the defenses that are discussed below could apply to your situation.

This is the first in a planned series of posts that will examine some of the various defenses available to those who are charged with DUI in Virginia.

Speedy Trial Violation

Virginia has a speedy trial law that requires that a felony trial take place within five months of the initial hearing if the accused is in custody or within nine months if the accused is not being held. There are a number of situations where a DUI can be charged as a felony, including certain alcohol-related injury crashes and repeat DUIs. This is a restriction on prosecution that is in place to ensure that an accused person does not languish in the system. Learn more about the Fairfax County District Court’s processes.

Blood Alcohol Content

There are always possible faults in determining blood alcohol content (BAC).

  • The science behind the test is sometimes faulty due to the timing in which the test is administered. If the body is still absorbing consumed alcohol, test results can be skewed. Depending on the individual, alcohol can still be being absorbed anywhere from 45 minutes up to three hours or more from the last drink. This can be impacted by the amount of food in your system, as well.
  • Breath analysis machines make an assumption on how to calculate your BAC that might be faulty in some cases. They assume that alcohol in your breath has a fixed ratio to the amount of alcohol in your blood. This ratio might not apply to everyone equally, thereby making the science questionable.
  • If there is significant delay between the actual driving and testing, assumptions have to be made about the actual level of alcohol in the blood at the time the illegal behavior was alleged to have happened. As with all assumptions, there is room for error.

Accuracy of the Equipment

As with almost all testing equipment, alcohol-testing equipment must be calibrated properly to ensure accurate results. Virginia has very specific requirements as to the appropriate timing and other requirements necessary to keep testing equipment accurate. It is within the defendant’s rights to question relevant state witnesses at trial about the maintenance, upkeep, and calibration of the testing equipment. If the requirements have not been met, this failure can be a potential defense against the DUI charge.

Lack of Probable Cause

While this is perhaps the most frequently argued defense against DUI charges, it is often the least successful. In order to pull you over for DUI, an officer must have a reasonable suspicion that you were intoxicated to the point where you were in violation of the law. Simple traffic violations like rolling through a stop sign or crossing either the center or shoulder lines provide the officer with a chance to develop reasonable suspicion. If the officer approaches your car and smells the presence of alcohol, he or she probably has reasonable suspicion that you are intoxicated. Certainly, some of the information the police officer relies upon is subjective, which is one of the reasons this is such a popular defense. However, perhaps because it is so subjective, most courts give police officers fairly wide latitude as to what creates a reasonable suspicion of a DUI violation.

If you have been charged with a DUI in Northern Virginia, you face serious potential punishment. You could lose your license and spend time in jail. You need serious representation to face these charges. Please give Jad Sarsour a call today at (571) 216-2639 to begin your defense with an experienced and knowledgeable DUI attorney.

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The Fairfax Criminal Defense Law firm of Jad Sarsour, represents clients throughout Northern Virginia and regularly appears in all courts, including: Fairfax County Fairfax City | Prince William County | Arlington County Alexandria City Loudoun County | Federal Court (Eastern District/VA)