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.

I am arrested for DUI in another state, how does that affect my Virginia Driver’s License?

I am arrested for DUI in another state, how does that affect my Virginia Driver’s License?

You hold a VA Drivers' License and you are arrested for DUI in another state - Contact Bedford VA DUI Law Firm Pack Law Group

If you hold a driver’s license in Virginia and get arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in other state, that state will promptly inform Virginia of your transgression. That is because Virginia participates in the national Driver License Compact, a database for inter-state driving offenses. It also reports people who commit a driving offense in Virginia but live elsewhere.

It is important to understand that Virginia will treat you as though your DUI happened here. You can expect an immediate driver’s license suspension of one year once Virginia knows about your out of state drinking and driving conviction. In some cases, the consequences you face in your home state are more severe than they would have been in the state where your arrest occurred.

Possibility of a Restricted Virginia License

A restricted driver’s license allows you to drive to and from work or school, to obtain healthcare deemed medically necessary, and a few other necessary destinations. Although this type of driver’s license is severely limited, it at least allows you to remain employed. However, the state won’t issue you a restricted driver’s license automatically. You must petition the court at the local jurisdiction where you reside and show proof that a full license suspension would cause undue hardship.

You must also be prepared to meet all requirements for a restricted driver’s license in Virginia. These include:

  • Install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. This requires you to blow into a breathalyzer each time you try to start your car. The engine won’t start if the device measures alcohol in your breath.
  • Complete the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP). This may be one of the few places you’re allowed to drive with your restricted license.
  • Pay a driver’s license reinstatement fee
  • Provide proof of financial responsibility

Keep in mind that these requirements are in addition to anything imposed on you by the local court. Depending on your level of intoxication and previous DUI history, punishments for a DUI in Virginia may include additional fines, up to one year in the county jail, and the potential for the state to seize your car. Additionally, the DUI from out of state will count as a prior offense if you’re ever stopped for impaired driving in Virginia.

Fighting an Out of State DUI

You are not automatically guilty of driving under the influence in another state just because a police officer arrested you for it. In fact, you may be able to successfully argue in Virginia’s Circuit Court that the laws in the state of your arrest are not similar enough to Virginia’s laws to warrant any punishment. However, you need an experienced DUI lawyer to successfully make this argument. Matthew Pack and W. Cameron Warren of the Pack Law Group in Bedford, Virginia have many years of expertise representing those charged with DUI, both in and outside of Virginia.

Should a Circuit Court judge agree that DUI laws between the two states are too dissimilar, it may be possible to reverse your driver’s license suspension in your home state of Virginia. The state where you originally received the DUI may still suspend your license there, but that may have no effect on you if you have no reason to visit there again.

Our experienced Virginia DUI attorneys can also challenge the legality of you being pulled over on suspicion of drunken driving in the first place. The arresting officer must have had a valid reason for the traffic stop, and your DUI attorney can and will challenge this. Another possible defense is that the arresting officer used faulty equipment when measuring your blood alcohol level, resulting in a false reading.

Contact an Experienced Virginia DUI Attorney

Drunk driving is a serious offense with consequences that follow you for years. At this stressful time in your life, you need an attorney that will aggressively defend you in and out of Virginia on your Virginia DUI case. Please contact our aggressive DUI attorneys today at (540) 586-7225 or by using our website contact form to arrange a free review of your case.