Driving Under the Influence with a Child in the Car

Driving Under the Influence with a Child in the Car

DUI Laws in Virginia
No matter the circumstances, a conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Virginia brings serious consequences. Those consequences will become even more severe if you’re pulled over for driving drunk while transporting a person under age 18. Read on to learn more about the offense known as DUI child endangerment.

There are numerous ways that the offense of driving under the influence can be considered “aggravated” in some way, including by having a blood alcohol level of .15% or higher, or by causing serious injury to someone else in an alcohol-related crash. One particularly serious drunk driving-related charge is that of DUI child endangerment. Virginia residents who are convicted of DUI child endangerment, or driving with a blood alcohol level over .08% with a child passenger who is under 18, could receive a fine between $500 and $1000, as well as a mandatory minimum five days’ imprisonment, in addition to the standard penalties for being convicted of driving under the influence. For a second offense of DUI child endangerment, individuals could face 80 hours of community service in addition to the aforementioned penalties. If the child found in your car is your own child, you could even face serious consequences such as losing custody or visitation rights. The punishment will become even more serious if the child is injured in the crash. One local woman was recently sentenced to nine years in prison when she crashed her car while driving drunk, and the accident caused her son to become fatally injured.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, 20% of all children who were fatally injured in car accidents in 2012 were victims of alcohol-related crashes. Over half of all those children were passengers in the car of the person driving under the influence. These children are also less likely to be wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, further increasing the likelihood that they will be injured in a crash. If you face charges of DUI child endangerment, these sorts of statistics could cause a jury to assume the worst about you, without aggressive and intelligent representation before the court.

If you are facing criminal charges for DUI or DUI child endangerment, don’t risk losing your freedom or developing a criminal record; get help defending yourself against such charges by contacting the seasoned and aggressive Virginia criminal defense attorneys at the Pack Law Firm for a consultation, at 540-586-7225.

What to Do if You Are Stopped for DUI in Virginia

What to Do if You Are Stopped for DUI in Virginia

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The state of Virginia is known for having some of the toughest DUI laws in the nation.  Being convicted of a DUI in Virginia can affect your family, career, and finances.  If found guilty, even for a first offense, you could be jailed, face heavy fines, or even suspension of your driver’s license.  If you’re pulled over for a DUI in Lynchburg, VA or the Bedford, VA area, you need to do several important things to protect your rights.

Why You Might be Stopped for DUI

Most DUI stops are the result of what is known as a reasonable suspicion.  This means that an officer observed driving behaviors that made them suspect that you could be driving under the influence. These might include:

  • Drifting into other lanes
  • Excessive speed
  • Driving too slow
  • Making an illegal turn
  • Failure to use turn signals
  • Erratic driving
  • Frequent braking or stopping
  • Driving at night without headlights

The DUI Stop

Every part of the DUI stop will be recorded in the police report, which will be used against you in court.  Remember that the police officer is collecting evidence based on each move you make and every word you say.  As soon as you see police lights flashing in your rear view mirror, pull over to the side of the road as smoothly and safely as possible.

Roll down your driver’s window and have your license and registration available for the officer. Avoid making any sudden moves inside the vehicle and keep your hands where the officer can see them as they approach.  If the officer asks you to get out of the vehicle, you need to do this, or you’ll certainly be arrested on the spot.

It’s natural to be nervous when dealing with the police, but it’s important to remain calm and avoid anger or sarcasm.  Being rude to the officer isn’t going to help your situation in the least and could result in your wearing handcuffs sooner rather than later.  Always be polite and cooperative, with a few important exceptions.

Don’t Admit Guilt

Anything that you say to the officer is going to be used against you.  It would be a mistake to admit that you’ve even had “just one drink.”  The only questions that you need to answer relate to your name, address, and license information.  However, if you haven’t consumed any alcohol or taken any drugs, now would be the time to stress this to the police.  If the officer asks for other information, you can simply respond with, “I’ve been advised not to answer that question.”

Field Sobriety Tests in Virginia

If you’re pulled over for a DUI in Virginia, it may not be in your best interest to consent to field sobriety tests.  These are not mandatory tests, and you have the legal right to refuse them.  These exercises are incredibly subjective, and any results will be used against you in court.  If asked to do this, remain polite, but decline to participate.

Breathalyzer Tests in Virginia

The state of Virginia has an implied consent law.  This means that, by driving in the state, you agree to take a breathalyzer test if pulled over by a police officer under suspicion of DUI.  If you refuse a breathalyzer, there are consequences such as an automatic one-year suspension of your driver’s license.

If you’ve been arrested for a DUI in Lynchburg or in Bedford, VA, get help from an experienced DUI attorney.  Unlike other traffic charges, a DUI conviction can have serious and lasting consequences, especially if there was an accident or injuries involved in the incident, or if you’ve had more than one offense.  The experienced DUI lawyers at the Pack Law Group will work hard on your behalf to ensure the best possible outcome for your case.  Contact us at (540) 586-7225 for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Defendant Faces Serious Consequences for Alleged Drunk Driving Fatal Crash

Defendant Faces Serious Consequences for Alleged Drunk Driving Fatal Crash

A recent accident in Campbell County resulted in one woman’s death, and multiple other injuries. Law enforcement have now charged the at-fault driver with driving under the influence, among other charges. Accidents resulting in injuries or fatalities which were caused by intoxicated drivers can have serious legal consequences for the driver.

On November 25, 2016, a Honda Odyssey van was traveling along Route 501 near Volunteer Road in Gladys. A Toyota Highlander SUV being driven by Anthony Chambers, 48, of Lynchburg, was traveling in the opposite direction. In an attempt to pass the car in front of him, Chambers crossed the center line, colliding with the Odyssey. Chambers, along with his four passengers, were all taken to Lynchburg General Hospital with injuries ranging in severity from minor to serious. The driver and front-seat passenger of the Odyssey were also taken to the hospital for their serious injuries. The Odyssey’s back-seat passenger, a 77-year-old woman, was taken to Lynchburg General, where she ultimately died later that evening. Chambers was placed under arrest for driving under the influence, and for driving on a revoked license, with possible additional charges to be filed pending an investigation.

The consequences for a Virginia DUI are severe, even when no aggravating circumstances are present. Those convicted of even a first-time DUI can face a suspension of their driver’s license for up to a year, which can have a serious negative impact on a career. However, the consequences become much more serious when a drunk driver causes serious or fatal injuries. If you cause an accident while drunk, and another person is killed in that accident, you could be charged with involuntary manslaughter, which is a felony. A conviction for involuntary manslaughter could carry a penalty of up to one year in jail. If the court finds that your behavior was “gross, wanton, and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life”– for example, by having an extremely high blood alcohol level at the time of the crash—then that prison sentence could balloon to 20 years. It is critical that you find an experienced Virginia DUI defense attorney when charged with a serious felony such as involuntary manslaughter.

If you’ve been charged with a crime in Virginia, such as a DUI or reckless driving, make sure your rights are protected before the court by contacting the Virginia criminal defense attorneys at the Pack Law Group at 540-586-7225.

What Are the Consequences of Being Found in Contempt in Virginia?

What Are the Consequences of Being Found in Contempt in Virginia?

consequences of being found in contempt in virginia

Once a Virginia family court issues an order granting child support, that order becomes legally binding on the parent ordered to pay support. If you have been ordered to make regular child support payments, but you fail to stay current on those payments, your co-parent has a number of tools at his or her disposal to obtain those funds or exert pressure on you to become current. For example, your ex could obtain a wage assessment, which would result in a portion of your pay going directly to your co-parent before you get your check. Your ex could also seek to have your professional license or driver’s license taken away. However, the sanction that could have the greatest negative impact on you would likely be a jail sentence pursuant to the court holding you in contempt.

When either party to a divorce violates an order issued by the court as part of a divorce or child custody dispute, the other party and their lawyer can file what’s known as a Petition for a Rule to Show Cause seeking to have the violator held in contempt of court. If, after a hearing, the court finds that the order was violated, the judge can impose any of a number of sentences. A judge can sentence the non-paying parent to jail, imposing what’s known as a “purge bond” in the amount of the back child support which must be paid before the parent can be released. The judge could also sentence the non-paying parent to jail with work release, with the income earned from the work taken to reduce the amount of child support owed. In fact, a judge can sentence a person found in contempt of court to up to 12 months of jail time.

Nonpayment of child support is not the only reason a Virginia judge could find one parent in contempt of court. Any violation of a court order, if sufficiently serious, can result in a finding of contempt. For example, if the court issued an order granting weekly overnight visitation at your home with your child, but your ex took your child when she moved to a neighboring state, then your ex would be in violation of the court’s order.

Rather than being subjected to possible jail time or work release when you fall behind on child support payments, take steps before you are found in contempt to avoid violating the court’s order. For example, if you become unemployed and know that you will not be able to make your full child support payment any longer, get an attorney’s help in seeking a modification of child support from the court in advance. The judge will be much more sympathetic if you are proactive in seeking help and not deeply in arrears before explaining the reason that you fell behind in payments. A skilled Virginia fathers’ rights attorney can also help you negotiate with an ex who has prevented you from seeing your child in violation of a court order, and, should those negotiations fail, help you file a Petition for a Rule to Show Cause against your ex in court.

If you are facing a Virginia custody battle or divorce, make sure you are represented by a family law attorney who will fight for your rights by contacting the family law attorneys at the Pack Law Group for a consultation, at [nap_phone id=”LOCAL-CT-NUMBER-3″].

Understanding How Court Orders Work in a Virginia Family Court Issue

Understanding How Court Orders Work in a Virginia Family Court Issue


When you’re in court on a family law issue, there may have already been court orders issued in your case. While you don’t need to understand all the legal jargon that comes up in your court case, court orders issued in your divorce or child custody proceeding can have a huge impact on your life, and it is important to understand what they are and how they’re created. Find out more about family court orders below.

Court orders are condensed versions of a judge’s decision, or of the agreement of the spouses or parents that have come before the court. Once a court order has been entered, the people named in the court order are legally required to abide by it. Those who disobey court orders can face fines or even jail time. We will discuss enforcement of court orders in a different post.

Court orders will cover a broad range of issues. The amount you’ve been ordered to pay in child support or alimony will be included in a court order. Your property settlement agreement, detailing how your marital property will be split between you and your spouse, will also be included in an order. After the judge rules on an issue, these orders serve as an official record of how the parties should act moving forward, and the details of the court’s decisions.

Divorce is not a speedy process in Virginia; spouses have to be separated for a minimum of six months, and often for a year, before they can file. As a result of this lag time, you may need the court’s help on legal issues before the divorce is final. For example, if your spouse is barring you from seeing your children, you may want the court to order your spouse to allow you visitation time. Likewise, if your spouse has stopped paying bills which are also in your name, you may need the judge to order your spouse to keep making payments while the divorce is ongoing. This sort of judicial action taken during the course of a divorce is known as “pendente lite” relief, or relief pending final resolution. Your attorney can file a motion for pendent lite relief, which is an expedited hearing process which offers temporary relief for a specific issue. The pendente lite order will no longer be in effect once a final order is issued.

Under ideal circumstances, you and your co-parent or former spouse will be able to negotiate the terms of your custody-sharing arrangement and the division of your marital property. In that case, your attorney will draft that agreement and have both parties sign it, and will submit that agreement to the court for approval. Assuming the court approves, that agreement will become an enforceable order in your case. If settlement isn’t possible, the judge will decide the issues after holding a trial or hearing, and will create his or her own order.

If you need aggressive, loyal, and knowledgeable legal help with your Virginia custody dispute or divorce, contact the family law attorneys at Pack Law Group for a consultation, at 540-586-7225.

Plan Ahead to Protect Your Interests in a Divorce

Plan Ahead to Protect Your Interests in a Divorce

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If you have recently decided that divorce is necessary, taking a few steps to plan ahead can make the process much easier. Read on to learn about ways you can begin planning to file for divorce, and speak with an experienced Virginia divorce attorney as soon as possible to ensure you’re ready for the divorce process.

Save now for upcoming expenses: Divorce brings a large number of expenses with it, including court costs, attorneys’ fees, the costs of setting up a new home separate from your spouse, and possibly alimony or child support payments during the divorce itself. Start cutting back on expenses so that you’re prepared to cover these costs without undue strain.

Change your passwords: When people find out that a relationship is ending, they can sometimes react by hacking into social media or email accounts to do some digging, to post private information, or to act in an otherwise harmful or hurtful manner. If you have shared your usernames and passwords with your spouse, you should change them quickly. Be advised, however, that changing sign-in information for financial accounts you share could land you in hot water with the judge.

Run a credit report, and sign up for credit monitoring: It is during a divorce that many people learn about substantial joint debts that their spouses have accrued during a marriage, unbeknownst to them. Run a credit report as soon as you decide to split, so that you can begin to address these issues as early as possible. Additionally, if you’re concerned that your spouse may make large purchases or incur additional debt under both your names after you file for divorce, sign up for credit monitoring so that you’ll know about these expenditures as soon as possible after they happen.

Begin gathering important documents: The lawyer handling your divorce filing will need documents establishing the value of your property. Begin looking for and making copies of important documents like recent tax returns, loan origination documents, title to property you own, account statements, and credit card statements. Additionally, this is a good time to begin thinking about how your lawyer can establish that certain property is your separate property, and that your spouse is not entitled to a share of it when you divide your shared property. Separate property could include a home you owned prior to the marriage, or an inheritance received during the marriage which you kept in a separate account during the marriage. Look for purchase records or other documents that might help show that you purchased or acquired this property separately from your spouse.

If you are facing divorce in Virginia, ensure your interests are protected by choosing an experienced and aggressive attorney to handle your case, and contact the family law attorneys at the Pack Law Group for a consultation at 540-586-7225.

Spousal Support to Adulterous Spouse Denied

Spousal Support to Adulterous Spouse Denied

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There are very few states in the U.S. which continue to base the outcome of a divorce on fault committed by one of the spouses during the marriage. However, Virginia is an exception to this rule, and a recent decision by the Virginia Court of Appeals has denied spousal support to a woman who cheated on her husband during their marriage.

The couple at the center of the case titled Mundy v. Mundy had been married for many years prior to their divorce. According to the trial court, the husband had provided nearly all financial support for their family, which included a child in college and one in medical school at the time of their divorce. The husband had also contributed substantially to the care of the couple’s children, taken the family on vacations, and taken them on frequent trips to cultural events. The wife had graduated with a degree in engineering from Rice University, but had not worked outside the home since the 1990s, aside from a brief stint working in an art gallery. The court nevertheless determined that the wife could make approximately $22 an hour within a few months of entering the workforce. The wife admitted to numerous instances of adultery committed with a member of her rock band, as well as with her personal trainer. The wife conceded at trial that the husband had not committed a significant amount of fault during the marriage. In the property settlement agreement, the wife received $1.3 million in retirement funds and $397,000 in cash, while the husband received the family’s home valued at $779,695. The husband had an annual income of over $850,000, and a net worth of $1 million.

Under Virginia law, while adulterous spouses are generally denied support, there is an exception to the rule if the adulterous spouse can show with “clear and convincing evidence, that a denial of support and maintenance would constitute a manifest injustice, based on the respective degrees of fault during the marriage and the relative economic circumstances of the parties.” The trial court judge who heard the couple’s divorce determined that there would be such a manifest injustice if the wife did not receive spousal support, but the Court of Appeals disagreed and reversed the grant of support. The Court of Appeals pointed out that past courts required more evidence for a showing of “manifest injustice.” For example, a court granted spousal support where the cheated-on spouse had been cruel and profane toward his family for years, making his degree of fault during the marriage almost comparable to his unfaithful wife’s. Another court found that spousal support was warranted where the paying spouse had a net worth of over $6 million, while the unfaithful spouse made $10 per hour and had no significant assets. In the Mundy case, the husband had been essentially without fault, the wife was by no means destitute, and the adultery constituted the main reason for the end of the marriage. The Court of Appeals found no basis for concluding that manifest injustice would exist if the wife didn’t receive spousal support. The court concluded, “it would be a manifest injustice to require a faultless spouse to pay support to a work-capable, millionaire spouse, guilty of repeated acts of adultery with several co-respondents.”

If you are facing divorce in Virginia and need diligent, aggressive legal help to represent your interests, contact the Bedford offices of the Pack Law Group for a consultation, at 540-586-7225.

Violating Probation in Virginia—What You Can Expect

Violating Probation in Virginia—What You Can Expect

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Most individuals who receive a probation sentence after pleading or being found guilty of a crime in Virginia make every effort to comply with the court’s conditions. After all, a sentence of probation allows you to live in your home with your loved ones, work a job that allows you to provide for your family, and generally carry out a normal life (with some important exceptions). However, it can be challenging to comply with the rigorous conditions that some courts impose pursuant to probation. Additionally, you may be accused of a probation violation which didn’t actually occur. Being found guilty of a probation violation can have severe consequences. Consult with a Virginia attorney as soon as possible after being accused of a probation violation, so that you can ensure your rights are fully represented at a probation violation hearing.

Probation is typically imposed in one of two circumstances: either instead of a jail sentence, or after a jail sentence has been served. During a probation sentence, the court imposes certain restrictions on your freedom for a set period of time. While judges often have a great deal of discretion in deciding what conditions to impose, individuals serving a probation sentence will most often be required to: meet regularly with a probation officer; submit to drug tests; not leave the state; remain regularly employed; remain in the state or county; and not own a firearm. While committing crimes is always illegal, the consequences for being found guilty of a crime also become even more severe during the probation period. Should you miss scheduled meetings with your probation officer, fail to complete community service, stop making child support payments or fail to pay court fees, you could receive a probation violation report, which will be submitted to the court.

If you receive a sufficient number of minor violations, or commit a serious violation, you will be summoned to appear at a probation violation hearing. At the hearing, your probation officer, other law enforcement, and your prosecutor will present evidence of the alleged violation, and you will have an opportunity to defend yourself. Should the court conclude that you did violate the terms of your probation, the court could impose additional terms on your probation, extend the length of your probation sentence, or force you to serve the jail sentence you would have served had you not received probation. In fact, if you’re found to have committed a particularly serious violation of your probation, you could receive up to the maximum sentence for the crime of which you were found guilty, even if you were originally sentenced to a lesser term before being granted probation. This is why it is critical to obtain experienced, diligent legal help for your probation hearing, so that you can stay out of jail and continue working toward a brighter future.

If you have been arrested on suspicion of committing a crime in Virginia, including DUI, theft, or drug-related offenses, seek aggressive and knowledgeable legal help to ensure your rights are protected in court.  Contact the criminal defense attorneys at the Pack Law Group for a consultation on your case, at 540-586-7225.

Prevent Excess Damage to Your Credit after A Divorce

Divorces can be traumatic not only for your mental health, but also for your financial health. Many parties to a divorce often find themselves facing a substantial amount of debt and a diminished credit score after a split. Some costs are simply unavoidable, but there are ways to prevent excess injury to your credit score that can occur during a divorce. Read on to learn about common sources of credit damage during a divorce, and ways you can lessen their impact on your own credit score.

  1. Your ex stops paying joint bills

It’s a common story: an account such as a car loan, credit card, or even mortgage payment is allocated to one spouse during a division of property, but that spouse stops making timely payments on the account at some point. Finding out as soon as possible that this has happened will help prevent unpaid bills from having too great of an impact on your credit. Call the financial institutions that hold any debts which include your name that your ex is paying and request that they either send you a statement each month, or check the account regularly online. If the accounts do fall behind and your spouse refuses to pay, it may be in your best interests to contact your attorney about requesting that the court intervene to compel your spouse to pay.

  1. Both spouses’ names are still listed on accounts or assets that now belong only to one

Over the course of a long marriage, you may have opened financial accounts about which you completely forgot in the meantime. It is possible your spouse has not forgotten them, and may have continued to accrue debts in both your names for which you will be held responsible. Take careful inventory of all your financial documents to discover all accounts, close or consolidate those you can, and check to see when they were last used.

  1. Your spouse charged up debts in your name, or drained joint accounts

If your divorce is particularly combative, your ex may have taken the drastic and vengeful step of secreting money out of joint accounts before you could notice or intervene. It is also not unheard of for exes to use their former spouse’s name and personal information to open lines of credit in their name, which they then use to rack up debt. If funds are missing from a joint account, speak with your attorney about documentation you might be able to use to show that your spouse took the funds. Also, keep an extra-close eye on your credit score after a split, to catch any newly-opened accounts before excessive debts mount.

If you need knowledgeable, aggressive legal assistance for your Virginia divorce, contact the family law attorneys at Pack Law Group for a consultation at 540-586-7225.

Creating a Custody-Sharing Schedule that Best Serves Your Kids

Creating a Custody-Sharing Schedule that Best Serves Your Kids

Child custody battle

After a divorce where children are involved, your number one priority is likely to be on making you’re your children feel secure and loved, and a successful visitation schedule can help toward this end. Once you’ve determined the share of time you and your co-parent will each have with your children, determining how that division of time will look logistically can be almost as challenging. Read on for guidelines on how to design a schedule that will help your children to thrive.

Find a simple schedule, and stick to it

Re-establishing a routine for your family after a divorce will help your children cope with the change of no longer living with both parents. Creating a simple schedule that both you and your ex can maintain will make it easy for both you and your children to remember, and will make it more likely that the schedule will be regular and reliable for your kids. As a bonus, if you and your ex have difficulty communicating calmly, a simple and regular schedule will require less discussion.

Put the schedule in writing

Once you’ve found a schedule that works, make sure that you create a written version, and, if possible, that a copy is lodged with the court. Not only will writing it down make it easier to remember and rely on what you agreed, but it will ensure that you and your ex are on the same page and will serve as an easy way to clear up disputes.

Consider your children’s ages when making a schedule

Your kids’ needs will evolve as they get older, and so should your visitation schedule. Younger children will require more in-person time to maintain a healthy connection with you, making it more beneficial to have a more frequent exchange of custody. Older children don’t need as much face time and will likely want to remain in the home that is closer to their friends and extracurricular activities. Instead of having an older child switch homes as often, consider allowing your child to spend longer stretches near their friends and connect with them by phone and text, and instead make up time with longer visits during school holidays or through weeknight dinner visits.

If you’re facing a dispute over child custody or a contested divorce in Central Virginia, ensure that your voice is being heard and your rights upheld in court by determined, trial-ready legal counsel by contacting the Pack Law Group for a consultation at 540-586-7225.