Explaining Virginia Refusal Statute – § 18.2-268.3

Explaining Virginia Refusal Statute – § 18.2-268.3

DUI Laws in Virginia

Virginia statute § 18.2-266 prohibits residents and visitors to the state from operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, both illicit drugs and those legally prescribed by a doctor. You are guilty of driving while intoxicated if your blood alcohol concentration measures at .08 percent or greater. These statutes also make it illegal for any person under age 21 to drive with a blood alcohol concentration greater than .02 or for a commercial driver to have a blood alcohol concentration greater than .04 percent.

Virginia is an implied consent state when it comes to sobriety and chemical tests. That means you explicitly give your consent to such testing when you pass your driver’s test and apply for a license. Because of this, you may face additional penalties for driving under the influence if you refuse to submit to such a test at the request of a police officer. Obtaining a driver’s license in Virginia means that you consent to a blood test, breath test, or both.

Penalties for Refusing to Take a Blood or Breath Test When Stopped for Suspicion of DUI

The first time you refuse to submit to a blood or breath test and you’re physically able to comply, you’re guilty of a civil offense. If you’re unable to successfully fight the charge, it results in the loss of your driving privileges for a period of one year from the date of your arrest. This is in addition to the penalties imposed for your original charge of driving with a blood alcohol concentration greater than .08 percent.

The penalties get steeper if you have a second DUI arrest or refusal in a set amount of time. For example, anyone charged in Virginia with a second or third offense that occurs 10 years or less from the first offense is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Conviction of a Class 1 misdemeanor includes the suspension of your driver’s license for a period of three years from the date of your conviction. As with a civil offense, you may receive fines and jail time on top of the long-term suspension of driving privileges.

The arresting officer will suspend your driver’s license immediately, but this does not count towards the one-year or three-year suspension you would receive if convicted. The administrative suspension imposed by the police officer can last between one week and two months, depending on whether you have previous convictions for DUI or refusal to submit to a breath or blood test.

Important Things to Know About Sobriety and Chemical Tests

The same classifications of penalties apply whether the police officer ordered you to take a breathalyzer test or a blood test. Breathalyzer tests are much more common in Virginia. Typically, the officer who stops you will offer the breath test first. If it is unavailable or you are not physically able to complete it, he or she will attempt to perform a blood test instead. You must take one of the two tests within three hours of a Virginia police officer pulling you over for suspected drunk or drugged driving.

An officer can require you to take a preliminary breath test before placing you under arrest if he or she suspects you of driving impaired. You do not legally have to submit to a preliminary breath test. If you refuse, the prosecuting attorney cannot use evidence of this refusal against you in court. However, it is usually in your best interest to submit to a request for a breath test whether it is preliminary or not.

Get Help from an Experienced DUI Attorney

Matthew Pack, the Senior Attorney at Pack Law Group, has several years of experience representing clients accused of DUI and refusal to submit to breath or blood testing. You may have a valid defense for refusing the test, such as knowing that you hadn’t been drinking at all when the officer stopped you. Mr. Pack will aggressively defend your actions and your right to continue driving in Virginia. To schedule a free legal review of your case, please contact his office in Bedford, Virginia at 540-586-7225. He serves clients in Bedford, Lynchburg, and Roanoke counties.

You’ve Been Arrested for DUI in Lynchburg – What’s Next?

You see the lights from the police squad car in your rearview mirror and realize that the officer is pulling you over. Even worse, he or she suspects you of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Whether you feel impaired or not, cooperating with the police officer is always in your best interest. It can prevent the situation from escalating even further out of control. At the same time, keep in mind that an arrest for driving with a blood alcohol concentration above .08 percent does not mean you are guilty of it. A judge, prosecuting attorney, and defense attorney like Matthew Pack help to decide your guilt or innocence at a trial later.

What to Expect During and Immediately After a DUI Arrest In this scenario the police officer who pulls you over will order you to take a breath or blood test to determine the amount of alcohol present in your body. Virginia’s implied consent law means that you give the police permission to do this when you apply for a driver’s license. Refusal to take the test could result in suspension of your driver’s license for one to three years, depending on whether you have previous DUI arrests or refusals on record. The arresting officer must also read you the Miranda warning. This outlines your rights as a person under arrest, including the right not to say anything to incriminate yourself. Next, the officer will likely place you in handcuffs, put you in the back of the squad car, and drive you to the police station in the city or county that employs him or her. If you were alone when the officer pulled you over, the officer will arrange to have your car towed to the police impound lot. If another licensed driver is with you, the officer may allow him or her to drive the car home if that person is not also impaired. Keep in mind that you are under constant surveillance from the moment of your arrest until you finally leave the police station. An officer can and probably will record anything you do or say in a police report, which the prosecution can use against you in court. You should not say anything to admit guilt or deny guilt at this time. It is best to wait until you have secured a defense attorney. However, you should pay close attention to how the officer performed the breath or blood test, whether he or she informed you of your rights, and if you felt the officer engaged in abusive behavior such as issuing threats, coercing you into a confession, or even physical violence.

Securing Your Release from Jail After a DUI Arrest After the arresting officer has processed your paperwork at the police station, he or she will contact a judge to determine when to release you. Depending on the time of your arrest, this could occur within a few hours or you may need to stay in jail overnight. The judge will decide to release you with or without bail or establish a bail amount you must pay prior to your release. It’s most common to receive conditional release on your own recognizance, which means that you promise to come back for your DUI trial.

Time is of the Essence You can expect the trial date for your DUI to occur within two months of your arrest. That means you must act fast to hire an attorney to defend you against the charge. Additionally, you have just five days to hire a criminal defense attorney if you want to get your driver’s license back. The longer you wait to seek legal help, the more time the prosecution has to build a case against you. Virginia is serious about punishing drivers convicted of DUI offenses. You face jail time, loss of driving privileges, insurance cancellation or rate increase, fines, loss of professional licenses, and other significant penalties if convicted. You can’t afford to wait or to hire an inexperienced DUI defense attorney. Matthew Pack, Senior Attorney at Pack Law Group, understands exactly what you have at stake. He will challenge every piece of evidence the prosecution presents to attempt to reduce the penalties or eliminate the charges altogether. Please contact Pack Law Group at 540-586-7225 to request your free case review as soon as possible.

Drinking and Driving During the Holidays

Drinking and Driving During the Holidays

holiday drunk driving

With the holiday season comes family gatherings, social time with friends, and even office parties. These are all joyous occasions, but they can have a dark side as well. The year-end holiday season is the deadliest part of the year in terms of drunk driving accidents and their catastrophic results.

Of the top ten deadliest drunk driving holidays in the U.S., four occur in last the six weeks of the year. These are Thanksgiving weekend, Christmas week, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that the increased volume of cars on the road coupled with a greater number of alcohol-related accidents leads to twice as many DUI-related deaths during the holiday season.

Thanksgiving Season

The night before Thanksgiving is now called “Blackout Wednesday” because it has become one of the busiest drinking days of the year. Since most businesses are closed on Thanksgiving Day, it has become a tradition for bars to have specials on Wednesday night which are well attended by the hoards of college students who have come home for the holiday. Traffic deaths around this date have now reached over 400 in number annually.

December Holidays

Christmas day has its share of drunk driving accidents, although not as many as some might think. By and large, Christmas tends to be a time that families spend together, and there are often fewer people on the roads than usual.

Christmas Eve is another story. Traffic stops and DUI arrests often go up by as much as one-third on Christmas Eve. This is because people go out to holiday parties and tend to over-imbibe. These are often people who don’t drink on a regular basis so may not be aware of their limitations.

New Year’s Eve is another example of a holiday where drinking and driving is an issue. In fact, drunk driving arrests and alcohol-related accidents can increase as much as 40% on this night alone. Fortunately, when New Year’s Eve falls in the middle of the week, these numbers are lower than if it fell on a weekend.

Your Responsibility as a Driver

If you are planning to go out on the town or attend an event during the upcoming holiday season, you have a responsibility if you intend on having even one drink. Drinking and driving is so dangerous that you should not plan on getting behind the wheel of a car if you decide to drink.

  • Choose a designated driver and get their commitment not to drink.
  • Call a cab, ridesharing service, or use a program such as Sober Rides or Safe rides.
  • Make arrangements to stay overnight someplace within walking distance of your event.

Your Responsibility as a Host

Many of us enjoy hosting friends, family, and work colleagues for a holiday celebration. However, there is a certain responsibility present when you decide to serve alcohol to guests. You should make every effort to discourage guests from overconsuming as well as driving away from your party in an impaired state.

  • Serve a variety of filling foods, non-alcoholic beverages, and coffee.
  • If you notice a guest who appears intoxicated, ask them how they plan to get home. If they don’t have a sober driver, find one for them.
  • Print out a list of local taxi company phone numbers for your guests.
  • If all else fails, take away your guest’s car keys and call them a cab. Ask others to help if you need assistance.

The Consequences of Impaired Driving

One bad decision can create a sobering list of consequences. Not only is impaired driving a dangerous and potentially deadly choice, but the legal ramifications of a DUI can be extensive. In Virginia, you can be arrested and convicted of DUI if your BAC is over .08% or if there is other evidence showing that you were driving while impaired. Penalties for DUI in Virginia include license revocation, fines, and possible jail time.

The good news is that the Commonwealth must prove its case before you can be convicted of DUI. If you have been arrested for DUI in Central Virginia’s Roanoke, Lynchburg, or Bedford counties, contact Pack Law Group now at 540-586-7225 or online to discuss the details of your case with an experienced and qualified Virginia DUI 

DUI Arrests and Government Employees

DUI Arrests and Government Employees

dui in virginia

There are currently 65 million Americans with some form of criminal record, which works out to one in four working-age adults in this country. In 2016, there were 19,925 DUI convictions in Virginia, with an average blood alcohol content of 0.1452.

There’s a good chance that many of those convicted of DUI’s also had other consequences such as fines, jail time, crashed cars, and even lost jobs. But, what if you were simply arrested for a DUI in Virginia and not necessarily convicted? Can you lose your job? Depending on where you work, that’s a possibility.

Where You Work in Virginia Matters

Virginia is an at-will employment state, which means that a private employer can release an employee at any time, without giving them notice or a reason. There are a few exceptions. The first is if there is an employment contract, and the firing violates that contract. The second is if there is any discrimination involved in the firing based on age, sex, race, religion, handicap, or the filing of an OSHA safety complaint.

Those who work for a city or state agency may meet some additional requirements and regulations. Often, these employees are subject to an employment contract. Depending on your position and the terms of your contract, your job may be jeopardy from a DUI arrest.

Transportation Services

If you work in a city or state government position related to transportation services, there could be a clause in your contract that allows for firing in the event of a DUI or drug-related arrest. If you work as a bus driver, mass transit operator, or pilot, you probably need additional licensing to meet the requirements of your position. Just by getting arrested for a DUI, you have endangered that licensed and could lose your job.

A job that requires a commercial license such as a CDL or a pilot’s license is going to have more stringent requirements. In some jurisdictions, a person might have the option of entering a special program and installing an interlock device to maintain a license. Getting this benefit might require some action on the part of your experienced DUI attorney.

When Driving is a Job Function

Even employees who don’t drive as their primary job function could lose a government job if they are no longer able to fulfill all of their duties. If a manager is required to visit various locations in the city or state, but cannot satisfy this duty because of a suspended license, this could be grounds for firing. Individuals who have had a DUI arrest may also be considered too risky to have a company car or to be covered by group auto insurance.

A Position Held to a Higher Standard

Some of city and state positions are considered high-profile, and a DUI arrest would reflect poorly on the organization. One example is teachers. A teacher that is employed by the county or city is held to a higher ethical standard because part of their position is to be a role model for the students and within the community at large. An arrest alone could be grounds for employment dismissal from one of these positions or to non-renew a contract. Other examples are police officers, building inspectors, and fire chiefs.

A Potential Ray of Hope

While this information may make the situation for DUI offenders seem bleak, this isn’t necessarily the case. Whether you were arrested for a DUI or arrested and also convicted, there may hope for your employment situation.

Based on the sheer number of misdemeanor and felony offenders now in the workforce, there has been a recent push to prevent employers from firing and rejecting applicants because of their past mistakes. There are exceptions, such as the ones we listed above, but many states and municipalities have decided to “ban the box” asking whether or not an applicant has a prior conviction. More than 29 states and 150 cities and counties will now consider a job candidates qualifications before any questions about criminal history. Fortunately, Virginia was added to that list in April 2015.

Getting arrested for a DUI in Virginia can be confusing and stressful. Contact the Pack Law Group at 540-586-7225 or online to find out how our team of knowledgeable and experienced Virginia DUI defense attorneys can assist you.

Know Your Rights When You’re Pulled Over

Know Your Rights When You’re Pulled Over

my rights when getting pulled over

Enjoying a few drinks with friends and family at a party or bar is certainly not against the law. However, the same cannot be said for hopping in the car and getting behind the wheel after having one too many. Unfortunately, many Virginia residents take their chances after imbibing, and attempt to drive themselves home. Of course, this often leads to a traffic stop by police officers, and potentially even an arrest for driving under the influence. It’s important to note, however, that law enforcement cannot simply stop every car they see in hopes of finding an intoxicated driver, nor can they arrest any motorist based on nothing more than a hunch. Instead, police officers must respect the rights of drivers in Virginia when on the roads. In light of this, all Virginia motorists should be fully aware of these rights in order to protect themselves from trouble when driving. Furthermore, anyone who has been arrested on suspicion of DUI in Virginia should contact a skilled attorney who can examine the specifics of the case to determine whether the stop was made legally, and use other tactics to lessen or avoid criminal penalties altogether.

Right to Refuse a Breathalyzer Test In general, if a police officer believes a driver is in intoxicated while behind the wheel, the officer may request that the driver take a breath test. The breath test, or breathalyzer, is used to determine whether the blood alcohol content of a driver is above .08 percent, the legal limit in Virginia. Here, Virginia drivers should recognize that they do, in fact, have the right to refuse to take this breath test. That being said, pursuant to Virginia’s law of implied consent, all drivers consent to this test upon receiving a driver’s license; and, in turn, a refusal to take the test will result in a license suspension. In addition, while refusing a breath test for the first time is legal, refusing a breath test for a second offense or more will lead to a misdemeanor charge, as well. Overall, refusing a breath test can have certain negative effects on a driver, although it is a right retained by all motorists in the state. Anyone who has questions about refusing a test, or who is facing a DUI after refusing to participate, should contact an attorney immediately for professional assistance.

Was the Original Stop Legal? Once a DUI arrest has been made, the driver lose hope for the future, and become resigned to accept the penalties that come with a conviction. Not all is lost, however; indeed, a driver actually retains a number of rights before the stop was ever made, and if it comes to light that any of these were violated, the case may be thrown out altogether. For example, in order to pull over a driver, a police officer must have reasonable suspicion that a crime is being or has been committed. As such, if the officer cannot provide a legitimate cause for stopping the driver, as well as corroborating evidence, the stop may be deemed illegal. Additionally, an officer may only arrest a Virginia driver if the officer has probable cause that the driver is intoxicated. So, if a driver shows no signs of intoxication, including a BAC under the legal limit, the arrest may not be valid, either. Using these defenses in a DUI case can be difficult, however, and require a thorough understanding of Virginia criminal law. Because of this, anyone who has been arrested for DUI is advised to reach out to a trained lawyer immediately for help.

Have You Been Arrested? Let Us Assist You Today A DUI arrest in Virginia may be terrifying, but it will not inevitably lead to criminal penalties. Instead, with the help of a dedicated lawyer, someone facing DUI charges may be able to avoid criminal consequences by showing that either the stop or the arrest was in violation of their rights. If you have been charged with DUI in Virginia, don’t wait any longer. Reach out to our talented legal team at the Pack Law Group by calling 540-586-7225 for a consultation. We serve clients in Bedford, Lynchburg, and Roanoke Counties.

DUI and Commercial Truck Drivers in Virginia

DUI and Commercial Truck Drivers in Virginia

Driving a commercial vehicle and DUI in Virginia - Pack Law Group

The act of driving any vehicle while intoxicated is extremely dangerous, as drinking while driving significantly increasing the risk of accident. When the intoxicated driver is the operator of a large truck, such as a semi-truck or other big rig, the risk of catastrophic damages increases dramatically.

Because the dangers of operating a large truck are so great when the driver is intoxicated, the laws regarding driving under the influence (DUI) and commercial vehicle operation are stricter than they are for the operation of traditional passenger cars. If you are a commercial truck driver, consider the following information about DUI laws in Virginia, the consequences you may be facing if you are charged with and convicted of a DUI as a commercial truck driver, and how the experienced criminal defense lawyers at the Pack Law Group can help.

Commercial Drivers Are Held to a Higher Standard Under Virginia Law

Drivers of standard passenger vehicles that are being used for non-commercial purposes in the state of Virginia are prohibited from operating a vehicle when they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of .08 percent or greater.

However, for drivers of commercial vehicles in the state, the percentage of alcohol that a driver is allowed to have in their blood while operating a vehicle and still acting within the confines of the law is lowered to a mere .04 percent. This law is found in Section 46.2-341.24(B) of Virginia Motor Vehicle Code. To put that into perspective, for the average person, a BAC of .04 percent can be reached after just one or two drinks (depending upon weight).

Penalties for a DUI Conviction for Commercial Drivers in Virginia

The act of driving while under the influence as a commercial driver is harshly penalized in the state of Virginia. If a commercial driver is convicted of a DUI for having a BAC of .04 percent of above, potential consequences could include:

  • Commercial vehicle license suspension;
  • Potential jail time;
  • A large fine;
  • Potential requirement to attend an alcohol education class; and
  • Permanent mark on your criminal record.

For those who make a living by driving a commercial vehicle, a DUI could ruin their career. Even if your ability to legally operate a commercial vehicle is restored after a year (the amount of time you may be prohibited from driving a commercial vehicle depends upon the details of the DUI offense), it is unlikely that a trucking company will want to hire a driver with a DUI on their record. This means that when you are convicted of a DUI, you may not only lose the respect of the people around you and have to pay large fines and potentially spend time in jail, but you may also lose your job and your ability to find work in the future permanently.

How Our Experienced Commercial DUI Attorneys in Virginia Can Help You

At the offices of the Pack Law Group, our experienced commercial DUI attorneys can help you if you are facing commercial DUI charges, and your career and your future are on the line. We can help you build your defense, as well as help you protect your rights – remember, a DUI charge is not the same as a conviction. We assist you in understanding your legal options, including potential defenses to your DUI and the possibility of pleading guilty in exchange for lesser charges or sentencing.

There Is a Lot on the Line – Contact Pack Law Group Today

Being charged with a DUI, no matter who you are, is a very serious offense. For commercial drivers that make a living by operating a large truck, a DUI can be negatively impact your ability to make a living.

At the Pack Law Group, our experienced Virginia DUI attorneys understand what you are going through. We know how much is on the line, and we want to help you secure the best outcome for your case possible.

Our skilled Virginia DUI attorneys have experience representing Virginia commercial truck drivers who aren’t sure where to turn after being charged with a commercial DUI. We will work hard on your behalf, showing you compassion and understanding as we aggressively defend you against the DUI charges, making certain we defend your constitutional rights.

To learn more about how we can help you, or to schedule a free consultation, please contact us today. You can reach us online or by phone at (540) 586-7225 – we answer the phone seven days a week, 24 hours a day!

Driving an ATV/UTV While Intoxicated – What Is the Law in Virginia?

Driving an ATV/UTV While Intoxicated – What Is the Law in Virginia?

Driving ATV While Intoxicated in Virginia - Pack Law Group

Driving an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) or utility vehicle (UTV) is a favorite weekend activity for many. And while the laws for ATV/UTV operation may appear to be less strict than they are for motor vehicles (for example, it is not always required that an operator of an ATV hold a driver’s license, as found in Section 46.2-800.2 of Virginia Motor Vehicle Code), driving an ATV/UTV while intoxicated is against the law and is punishable in the same manner as if you were driving a car or motorcycle.

The Laws Regarding Operating an ATV/UTV While Intoxicated in Virginia

Virginia law is very clear as it pertains to the illegality of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated – Section 18.2-266 reads that it is unlawful for a person to operate any motor vehicle or engine while:

  • The person has a blood alcohol concentration level of .08 percent or greater;
  • The person is under the influence of alcohol;
  • The person is under the influence of a narcotic drug or any self-administered intoxicant or drug that impairs their ability to operate a motor vehicle; or
  • When the person is under the influence of any combination of alcohol or drug.

Because “motor vehicle or engine” typically refers to cars, it is important to refer to Virginia code to determine whether or not the state classifies ATVs/UTVs as motor vehicles. In short, ATVs and UTVs are certainly considered motor vehicles, with state code defining a motor vehicle as “every vehicle…that is self-propelled or designed for self-propulsion…” State code also defines an all-terrain vehicle as a three or four-wheeled motor vehicle that is powered by an engine. As such, this means that if you operate an ATV or UTV while under the influence of alcohol or with a BAC of .08 percent or above, you can be charged and convicted with a DUI, even if you are not involved in an accident or do not cause injury or damage to others.

Defenses to Operating an ATV/UTV Under the Influence and Penalties

Many people wrongly assume that because they are operating an ATV/UTV, and not a car, and because they are doing so on a trail rather than a roadway, they are perfectly within their legal rights to have a drink (or a few) first. However, this could not be further from the truth. If you are charged with a DUI while operating an ATV/UTV, it is important that you understand your legal rights and defenses. This includes the defense of not actually being under the influence, lack of evidence to convict you (no proof of a BAC of .08 percent or above), lack of operation, or lack of knowledge and intent of intoxication (i.e. you used a prescription medication prior to ATV operation without knowing that the medication would have impairing side effects).

It is important to remember that if you are convicted of a DUI, the penalties will mirror those for DUI while operating a standard car. These penalties could include a fine/fee, jail time, license suspension, and more. Of course, the DUI will also show up on your record, which could affect your ability to secure employment or other opportunities in the future.

Contact Our Virginia Law Offices for Legal Counsel Today

Most people who are charged with a DUI while operating an ATV/UTV are shocked, not understanding that they were prohibited from drinking before ATV or UTV operation in the first place. If you have been charged with a DUI while operating an ATV/UTV, you may have dozens of questions about your legal rights, whether or not you will be convicted, and if you are convicted, what the penalties will be.

At the offices of the Pack Law Group, we understand what you are going through, and the fears you may be facing. If you want to improve your chances of securing the best possible outcome for your case, we strongly recommend that you contact our experienced Virginia DUI attorneys. We have experience representing those who have been charged in Virginia with driving under the influence while operating an off-road vehicle, and know how to build your defense, protect your rights, work with the prosecution, and advocate for you.

To learn more and begin the process of building your case, please contact us as soon as possible. Contact the Pack Law Group today at (540) 586-7225 or by using our website contact form. Our phone lines are open 24/7.

GERD/Acid Reflux Defense for Virginia DUI

When you violate a traffic law, a police officer can pull you over and cite you for the violation. During the stop, the officer may have probable cause to ask you to submit to a breathalyzer test. If the results of the breathalyzer test imply that you have been drinking alcohol, you can be arrested and charged with a DUI (driving while under the influence). If you are convicted of a DUI, this can have a significant effect on your life and your future opportunities.

At the Pack Law Group, our Virginia DUI attorneys have focused on helping clients defend themselves against DUI charges over the years. While there are a number of defenses that may work for you depending upon the circumstances of your charges, one type of defense that is very viable is the GERD/acid reflux defense. Here’s what you need to know:

What Are GERD and Acid Reflux?

GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, is a type of chronic digestive condition that is characterized by stomach acid or stomach content flowing back up through the esophagus. The stomach acid/stomach content is called reflux, which then irritates the lining of the esophagus, as explained by the Mayo Clinic. 

Acid reflux and GERD are not the same thing, although they are closely related. While acid reflux is also characterized by stomach acid making its way back up through the esophagus, GERD is a more serious form of the condition. Acid reflux is occasional, and is often triggered by certain foods; the symptoms of GERD occur more frequently, and the condition can also include vomiting, trouble swallowing, and constant coughing.

What Is the Relationship Between a DUI and GERD/Acid Reflux?

As stated above, one thing that can help an officer make an arrest, and can help the prosecution secure a conviction, are the results of a breathalyzer test. However, medical conditions like GERD and acid reflux can lead to an inaccurate breathalyzer test result.

In order to understand why this happens, it is important to know how breathalyzers work. Breathalyzers, as their name implies, only measure the percentage of alcohol that is found in your breath, not your blood and body as a whole.

This can be a problem for someone with GERD or acid reflux disease, especially for someone who has had a drink or two, but not nearly enough to reach or surpass the legal limit for drinking and driving. Because GERD and acid reflux cause stomach acid or stomach content to flow back into the esophagus and the mouth, mouth alcohol content can lead to a breathalyzer test measuring overall alcohol content as much higher than the person actually consumed. As such, a person may blow a percentage over the legal limit of .08 percent, even if their BAC is really much lower, such as .05 percent.

How Our Lawyers Can Use Your Medical Condition as a Defense to a DUI Charge

If you suffer from GERD or acid reflux and experienced a flare up right before you were asked to blow into a breathalyzer, there is a very good possibility that your condition negatively affected the results of your breathalyzer test. At the Pack Law Group, our Virginia DUI Attorneys strongly believe that a person should never be convicted on faulty evidence, which is why we will work diligently to have the results of your breathalyzer test dismissed if you do indeed suffer from a gastrointestinal disorder. In order to do this, we will not only obtain the results of your breathalyzer and any other forms of evidence that provide proof of how much/how little you had to drink before operating your vehicle, but we will also call on your doctor to provide testimony of your condition. We can also hire medical experts who can testify regarding the relationship between a higher breathalyzer BAC reading and gastroesophageal reflux disease/acid reflux.

Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation

If you want to learn more about how to build a defense to a DUI and what your options are after being charged with a DUI in Virginia, do not hesitate to contact our law firm. We are professionally trained to represent your best interests during a Virginia DUI case, and know how to fight aggressively to have charges against you dropped or reduced. For a strong legal defense for your Virginia DUI that you can count on, contact the knowledgeable Virginia DUI attorneys at Pack Law Group today to schedule your initial consultation. We can be reached at (540) 586-7225.

What Is the Definition of a DUI in Virginia? 

What Is the Definition of a DUI in Virginia?

Definition of DUI in Virginia - Virginia DUI Law Firm - Pack Law Group

In every state in the nation, driving after consuming a certain amount of alcohol is illegal. While states have the autonomy to determine the limit that is illegal, all states maintain a .08 blood alcohol concentration limit. The following considers the definition of a DUI, or driving under the influence, offense in Virginia, how the offense is penalized, and how our experienced Virginia DUI attorneys can help you if you are charged with a DUI.

Defining a DUI in Virginia

You are considered be legally operating under the influence if you are operating a boat, engine, train, a motor vehicle, or a watercraft in Virginia and your blood alcohol concentration level is .08 percent or above. However, while .08 percent may be the legal limit, the Code of Virginia section 18.2-266 continues to read that it is unlawful for a driver to operate a vehicle while “under the influence of alcohol,” while under the influence of any narcotic drug or any other self-administered intoxicant or drug, while a person is under the influence of any combination or alcohol or drugs to the point where the ability to operate a motor vehicle is impaired, or when a person has any of the following substances in the blood in the following concentration levels:

  • Cocaine (0.02 mg/liter of blood);
  • Methamphetamine (0.01 mg/liter);
  • Phencyclidine (0.01 mg/liter); or
  • 3,4-Methylenedioxyamphetamine (0.01 mg/liter). 

Can I Be Charged with a DUI for Having an Open Container in My Vehicle?

You cannot be charged for a DUI based on the fact that you have an open container in your vehicle alone, which refers to a container of alcohol that has been opened. However, you may be charged for a DUI if you are pulled over and have an open container of alcohol in your vehicle, some of the alcohol is missing, and police believe you to be intoxicated based on your behavior.

Will I Be Charged with a DUI if a Refuse to Submit to a Blood or Breath Alcohol Test?

The easiest way for the prosecution to secure a DUI conviction is to present evidence that the defendant had a blood alcohol concentration level at .08 percent or above when apprehended by police. As such, if you are pulled over and suspected of committing a DUI offense, you will almost surely be asked to submit to a blood or breath alcohol test. Under Virginia’s implied consent laws, you are required to submit to testing when requested to do so. If you refuse to take the test, you will not automatically be convicted of a DUI, but you will face an automatic license suspension of one year if this is your first time offense, and three year license suspension for subsequent offenses.

What Happens If I Am Convicted of a DUI? 

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles explains that the state is tough on DUIs. If you are convicted of a DUI, the penalties could include:

  • First offense: $250 fine; driver’s license revocation for one year. 
  • Second offense: $500 fine; possible jail time of up to one year; three-year license revocation.
  • Third offense: $1,000 fine, mandatory jail time of 20 days; indefinite driver’s license revocation; and prosecution as a class 6 felony.

How Our Experienced Virginia DUI Attorney Can Help If You Are Facing DUI Charges

Understanding what constitutes a DUI in Virginia, how to fight DUI charges, and what your penalties may be if you are convicted can all be confusing. At the law offices of the Pack Law Group, our attorneys are highly experienced in Virginia DUI law and defending those charged with DUIs throughout our state. We work hard for you to file motions to suppress evidence that was illegally obtained or is faulty, to gather evidence that supports your innocence, and to negotiate with the prosecution to reach a plea bargain if necessary.

We know being charged with a DUI can be scary, and we have also seen how the consequences of a DUI conviction can change a person’s life. If you are facing DUI charges in Virginia, please contact us today for an initial consultation where you can learn more about building a strong defense. We can be reached at (540) 586-7225 on online by using our website contact form.

If I’m pulled over in Virginia for DUI, do I have to take a field sobriety test?

If I’m pulled over in Virginia for DUI, do I have to take a field sobriety test?

Can I Refuse a Field Sobriety Test in Virginia - Contact Bedford, VA DUI firm Pack Law Group

When you are pulled over on suspicion of drunken driving in Virginia, one of three things may happen. The officer may let you go if he or she can readily determine that you are sober or arrest you on the spot if you’re clearly intoxicated. The third possibility gets you more into the gray areas of DUI law. If the police officer is uncertain of your sobriety, he or she can request that you take a field sobriety test.

You do have the legal right to refuse to take the field sobriety test. When exercising this right, it is best to be as non-confrontational as possible. You can simply state that you need to talk to your attorney before complying with the officer’s request. One reason you may want to decline is that these tests are highly subjective. Whether you pass or fail depends solely on the judgment of the police officer.

Unfortunately, a police officer can still place you under arrest if he or she suspects you are driving while impaired and you refuse the field sobriety test. If you decide not to risk it, keep in mind that failing a field sobriety test doesn’t automatically make you guilty of a DUI in Virginia.

What to Expect When Submitting to a Field Sobriety Test in Virginia

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has authorized the use of three field sobriety tests. Each of these tests measures a specific reflex or response that should be altered if the person is truly impaired. These include:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test: Also called an eye test, this portion of a field sobriety test measures whether your eyes track an object normally. People who are intoxicated should display involuntary jerking of the eyes during this test. To complete it, a police officer will hold a pencil, finger, or a similar object approximately six inches away from your nose. He or she then moves the object slowly from side to side while observing how your eyes track it.
  • One-Leg Stand Test: For this test, the police officer tests your balance by asking you to stand on one leg. If it appears the test may give inaccurate results due to sloped pavement, your footwear, or any other reason, he or she may substitute another reflex test. These may include bending over to retrieve an object from the ground, counting or saying the alphabet backwards, touching your finger to your nose several times, or keeping your focus on a specific object that the officer selects.
  • Walk and Turn: This test measures both balance and motor skills. The officer starts the test by having you stand on a line, walk several steps forward, turn around, and then walk back towards your vehicle. The steps must be heel to toe, meaning the heel from one foot needs to touch the toes of the other with every step. You could fail the test if you lose count of your steps, fall over or sway, step outside of the line, or leave any space between your heel and toes while walking.

 What to Do if You Fail the Field Sobriety Test

It’s common for people to fail one or more of these tests when they are completely sober. You could have poor balance from a medical condition, problems with normal eye tracking, or difficulty with bending and turning due to sore muscles. Sometimes police officers refuse to hear these simple explanations if they have pre-conceived notions of your sobriety.

Contact an Experienced Virginia DUI Attorney Immediately

If you feel that you have been unfairly charged with a DUI in Virginia, it is imperative that you seek experienced legal help right away. The experienced DUI attorneys at Pack Law Group have many years of experience challenging these subjective tests and getting charges dropped against their clients. While we can’t guarantee any specific outcome, we’re happy to offer you a free consultation to learn more about your case. Contact our office by calling (540) 586-7225 or by using our website contact form.