10 Reasons to Retain a DUI Lawyer if Charged with DUI/DWI in Virginia
Although the cards may seem stacked against you in a DWI/DUI charge, an experienced criminal defense attorney can employ many methods to aggressively fight for you. Before considering representing yourself or simply pleading guilty to a DWI or DUI charge in Virginia, below are 10 reason to hire a DUI lawyer to work for you.
If over the age of 21 and found guilty of DWI/DUI, some of the penalties for a first time offender can include: a minimum jail term; a minimum six (6) month installation of an Ignition Interlock Device, plus associated costs; the requirement to complete the VASAP; six (6) demerit points assessed by the DMV; and more.
The Virginia implied consent laws make it a crime to refuse blood alcohol testing. While this may seem unfair, you agree to submit to these tests by virtue of driving on Virginia roadways. Refusing testing amounts to a crime separate and distinct from a DUI charge that may follow.
A DUI conviction is on your record for life. In exceptional circumstances, a governor’s absolute pardon can be granted for an erroneous conviction, but it would be next to impossible for a DUI conviction and would serve as Virginia’s first of this kind.
You have significantly better odds of a positive outcome than if you were to represent yourself. Simply pleading guilty to quickly resolve your case makes you ineligible for a criminal record expungement, as you must be found not guilty or have the charges withdrawn by Commonwealth (nolle prosequi).
A DUI conviction can have negative impacts on your life. Outside of the judicial penalties, a DUI conviction may result in: limited job opportunities or loss of employment, difficulties renting an apartment, increased car insurance, professional sanctions, and even the potential inadmissibility to travel internationally.
An experienced DUI lawyer can build arguments based on human errors. For example, detailed instructions are provided to law enforcement officials tasked with operating breath test equipment. Although the equipment provides step-by-step instructions, any number of errors can occur to render test results inaccurate.
You will have access to the pool of technical knowledge useful in refuting breath test results. For example, medical conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can increase alcohol content in the breath without accurately reflecting the alcohol content in the blood.
Interested in visiting our neighbors to the North? According to the Government of Canada, “if you have been convicted of driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, you will probably be found criminally inadmissible to Canada” without an approved permit issued by the Government. Other countries may have similar admissibility criteria.
Even if you have confidence of your own innocence, it takes an experienced and respected attorney to successfully negotiate with Commonwealth’s attorneys. Your best line of defense is to contact a local lawyer, as different judges can have varying approaches, especially in areas of the law that allow discretion.
There is no substitute for knowing the law. What are you paying for? To start, a minimum of three years of formal legal education (JD or equivalent), possible internships, successfully pass the state bar, hold varying years of practice and expertise.