Winter Driving and Car Accidents


Even the most experienced driver can find winter roads and conditions challenging. It’s simple to forget that the pavement is slippery or that you need to drive or maneuver slower to account for these conditions. But, when a lack of care leads to an accident on winter roads, the results can be devastating.

How Common Are Winter Car Accidents? It might seem logical that more road accidents would happen during the winter, but this isn’t necessarily the case. In fact, most accidents happen during the summer months and on weekends, when there are more drivers on the road. But that doesn’t diminish the threat of a car crash during the winter months. The Federal Highway Administration reports that about 70% of the roads in the U.S. are in snowy regions, and Virginia certain has its fair share of snow in the winter. Each year, there are more than 156,000 crashes due to icy or snowy roads, resulting in over 116,000 injuries and more than 1,300 deaths.

Common Causes of Winter Car Accidents Each year, 24% of weather-related vehicle accidents happen on icy, slushy, or snowy roads, and 15% occur during times of sleet or snowfall. Poor winter conditions not only create slippery pavement but will also reduce visibility and cover up markings, which can create additional hazards.

Here are some of the most common causes of winter car crashes:

Driving Too Fast for Conditions Speed is the most common cause of motor vehicle accidents in the Commonwealth of Virginia, but speed and winter conditions don’t mix. Drivers with a habitually “lead foot” are more likely to cause accidents at any time, but this can be deadly on icy and snowy roads. The speed limits are set at a certain level for a reason, and exceeding them can result in a vehicle hydroplaning or sliding into the path of another car, causing serious harm.

Obstructed Windows It can be tough to see when snow or sleet is blowing across the road. But when a driver fails to properly and fully remove ice and snow from their windshield and windows before getting behind the wheel, this can spell disaster. A proper scraper and de-icer are a must to maximize visibility.

Speeding It’s a fact that it will take a driver longer to get from one place to the next during a blizzard than it will during a sunny spring day. Drivers that don’t consider this basic math are more likely to speed in the worst conditions possible and become a danger to themselves and everyone else on the road.

Following Too Closely It makes sense that stopping on slippery roads can be treacherous, but that doesn’t seem to stop many drivers from clinging to the bumpers of the vehicles in front of them. AAA says that the normal following distance in dry conditions is three to four seconds. But, this should be increased to eight to ten seconds in winter conditions. So, when a vehicle passes a landmark, the next driver should be a minimum of eight seconds behind them.

Braking Issues Braking in winter conditions is a skill that every driver should learn. Instead of jamming on the breaks, they should be slowly pumped. If the driver behind you isn’t following too closely, there should be plenty of room to stop safely. If a driver doesn’t brake properly, it can lead to fishtailing and dangerous crashes.

What to Do After a Car Crash in the Ice or Snow Winter car accidents are dangerous and frustrating. No one wants to be out in those conditions. And now you’ve been hit by another vehicle and have to deal with an accident scene. If this happens to you, follow these steps to stay safe and protect your rights:

  • Get to safety. Secondary accidents are more common during the winter because of poor visibility and reduced braking ability. Either move your car, if it’s driveable, or yourself to a safe spot.
  • Call 911. Get immediate medical attention for yourself and anyone else that has been injured. Also, request that the police come to the scene for documentation.
  • Preserve evidence. If possible, take some photographs of the accident scene and damage. Collect the details of everyone involved as well as any witnesses. Report the accident to your insurance company, but don’t give anyone a recorded statement.
  • Speak with an attorney. Car accidents are frustrating enough, and winter weather can make everything more challenging. A skilled personal injury attorney can handle every aspect of your accident claim while you focus on getting better.

Contact an Experienced Virginia Car Accident Attorney If you have been injured in a snow or ice-related car crash due to another party’s negligence, The Pack Law Group will aggressively fight to safeguard your rights. We will investigate your claim and help you pursue the parties responsible for fair and just compensation. Contact our Bedford office today at 540-586-7225 or reach out to us online to schedule a free consultation. We never collect a fee from you unless we obtain a favorable outcome in your case.

Distracted Driving and Teens

Distracted Driving and Teens


If your teenager has an accident while driving, the first suspicion by law enforcement will be that he was distracted. That’s because when you combine an inexperienced driver with distraction the combination can have deadly results. And that officer understands that teens are also involved in three times as many fatal crashes as other drivers, according to AAA.

Distracted Driving Distraction can take many forms and includes anything that takes your attention away from the primary task of driving. Examples of common distractions that drivers encounter include adjusting the radio, eating food, putting on makeup, and talking to those in the back seat. Perhaps the most dangerous of all driver distractions is electronic activity such as text messaging. AAA in its Guide to Teen Driver Safety writes young drivers are the most avid users of smart phones while behind the wheel. It’s Foundation for Traffic Safety reports more than half of teens say they use a cell phone while driving. More than 25% admit they send a text message while driving. Using a smart phone to text distracts drivers in several ways:

* Manual – Taking your hands off the wheel to adjust a radio or pet the dog

* Visual – looking at kids in the back seat, carrying on a conversation or checking out an accident

*Cognitive – Daydreaming, looking at a list, thinking about work According to a study by Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute, a texting driver is 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash. The 6 seconds it takes to look at a text is enough time to drive the length of a football field. And the teens don’t seem to be getting it.

Distracted Driving Statistics State Farm Insurance surveyed 697 teens nationwide. It finds that many teen drivers, inexperienced behind the wheel, do not think texting while driving is as dangerous as drinking and driving.  The survey finds just over half of teen drivers, ages 14 through 17, strongly agree they could be killed if driving under the influence. Only 36 percent believe that can happen if they text while driving. Not only teens can be injured in a crash. Other innocent parties can as well and the statistics show:

  • Driver distraction is responsible for more than 58% of teen crashes – AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
  • 25% of teens respond to a text message at least once every time they drive – DOT
  • In 2015 there were 3,477 people killed and an estimated 391,000 injured in crashes involving distracted drivers – NHTSA
  • Ten percent of fatal crashes and 15% of injury crashes in 2015 were affected by distracted driving – NHTSA
  • The Department of Transportation blames distracted driving for 3,166 vehicle crashes in 2017
  • iPhone users had a significantly higher trend of distracted driving activities behind the wheel as Android users – Survey March 2019, The Zebra

These are preventable injuries and deaths! Put down the phone while driving.  Most major carriers now have an app that tells a caller that you are driving and disables your phone. Use it! Parents should also understand that when they drive distracted their teen is two to four times as likely to also drive distracted.

Virginia Law Enforcement In Virginia, a young driver under the age of 18 is banned from using any kind of wireless communication while behind the wheel. That includes handheld and hands-free cell phones. Virginia has a graduated driver license system. It allows one non-family teen passenger under 21 in the car during the first year of driving. By midnight they are to be off the road. That is intended to reduce all distraction in the vehicle. Ultimately, all drivers are prohibited from texting and emailing in Virginia where it is a primary traffic offense. That means you can be pulled over for that alone if an officer sees you texting. Violate the law and you are likely to face a ticket, a fine, suspended driving privileges, court, attorney fees, and an increase in your insurance rates. A penalty can include a traffic ticket and a fine of $125 for the first violation and double that for the second.  A texting violation can also lead to a reckless driving conviction.

Injured in a Distracted Driving Accident in Virginia? Contact the Pack Law Group The Pack Law Group is always available to discuss any injuries you suffered in an auto accident. Let us help you seek the justice you deserve. Call our offices a (540) 328-2886 or message us online for a free consultation and case assessment.

Am I Allowed to Carry a Handgun in Virginia?

Am I Allowed to Carry a Handgun in Virginia?


We often get this question from residents of Virginia because the laws vary state-to-state. Be sure to check before you make any decision about carrying a handgun in Virginia or elsewhere, as the laws change frequently. The short answer is yes, you can carry a gun in Virginia, even without a permit. Virginia does not require a permit for what’s known as “open carry,” which means the gun is in its holster and visible and is in the possession of someone at least 18 years of age. The same law applies to a gun carried in a vehicle as long as it is in plain view on the seat. There are exceptions that apply to the average citizen, not law enforcement, military, or a licensed security guard:

  • A semi-automatic rifle or pistol that holds more than 20 rounds of ammunition cannot be carried in public.
  • A silencer attached gun cannot be open carry.
  • Shotguns equipped with more than seven additional rounds cannot be open carry.
  • Some facilities and stores may discourage or ban open carry.

Not all municipalities agree with open carry. Some disallow the open carry of assault weapons that carry multiple rounds or are equipped with a silencer. Check the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Newport News, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Richmond, Virginia Beach, and the counties of Arlington, Henrico, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William. On the other hand, with no permit, a gun can be carried in a vehicle as long as it is in a container or compartment within the vehicle, such as a center console, glove box, or trunk. It can be loaded and available to the driver. There is an exception. A county may make it unlawful to carry a loaded rifle or gun on any public street as may a place of employment.

Concealed Carry For a concealed weapon, however, the law is completely different. According to the state Code of Virginia, 18.2-308, for a concealed weapon, the owner must have a license or permit, be at least 21 years old, pass certain training, and may not have any disqualifying criminal convictions. After paying a fee of $50 to the circuit court in their county of residence, the applicant must undergo a background check. The applicant is also required to take a class on gun safety and some areas will require fingerprints. The permit should last for five years and may be honored by other states, but check before you travel cross-state. A violation of the concealed weapon statute is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia.  A second violation is a Class 6 felony, while a third is a Class 5 felony.

Shall Issue While many assume gun laws have made carrying more difficult in Virginia, the opposite has happened. Until 1995, it was up to the discretion of the locality whether or not to issue a permit after the applicant made a request to carry. Virginia is a “shall issue” state, meaning that unless there is a compelling reason why a permit should not be issued, it will be.  According to The Virginian-Pilot, the “shall issue” concept is catching on and now 36 states grant permits to carry a concealed weapon to almost everyone who asks.

Private Property and Guns Not everyone is in favor of guns on their premise, so private businesses and landowners can prohibit firearms on their property, whether a concealed weapon or open carry. Whether a bar, a hospital, a bank, church, a store, or restaurant, all have the discretion to ban guns or make them off limits. Assume a school, airport, military base, courthouse, or any other federal property will not welcome a weapon, whether open carry or concealed. Look for any prominently posted signs to let you know the rules.

Stand Your Ground Although it is controversial, Virginia is a “Stand Your Ground” state. That means as long as you are not involved in a conflict, if you feel threatened you can stand your ground and use your gun to defend yourself. There are varying scenarios and each side will have a different story to tell. Contact the Pack Law Group in our Bedford, Virginia offices at (540) 586-7225 if you have the need to discuss your questions with an experienced team of criminal defense attorneys.

What is a Protective Order?

What is a Protective Order?

Arrest in Virginia

Someone feels threatened by another person. Maybe they feel like they are being stalked or they have been threatened physically. It could be a stranger, an ex-spouse or someone from the workplace. It could be a threat issued in person or over the phone. The victim feels her safety is being threatened by another and fears assault, bodily injury, or even death. Regardless, the person threatened is frightened. There is something she can do to help protect her safety. In Virginia, the person who feels threatened can go to a judge to have a protective order issued. If the judge approves it, a legal document, a Virginia Protective Order, is then issued. At Pack Law Group we advise and represent clients in central Virginia providing criminal defense when you are accused.  If you are the subject of a protective order, you will need to know your rights, and what is necessary to fight the allegations.

Protective Orders

A protective order puts some protections in place. And even though it is just a piece of paper, a violator can be arrested. There are three types of protective orders in Virginia.

Emergency Protective Order (EPO)

This is an order that protects you for three days only. An Emergency Protective Order (EPO) can be sought if someone feels that there is imminent danger of harm. If after three days the claimant is still in fear, they can seek a Preliminary Protective Order.

Preliminary Protective Order (PPO)

In this case, the judge will issue a protective order that is in effect for 15 days or until a full hearing can be held. The person seeking the PPO makes a sworn statement to the court that s/he is in fear of of abuse or violence, and that s/he has the option to seek the PPO. The PPO can be done in a written form or in an oral ex parte petition. That means you do not necessarily get to present your side of the story. An ex parte motion means for the benefit of one party only. The PPO remains in effect until another hearing takes place before each party, so the judge can hear about the particulars of this case. The Pack Law Group suggests you have representation upon your first appearance before the judge to help you gather the best evidence on your own behalf. With a PPO, the accused will have to be legally served.

Protective Order (PO)

This is the longest form of protective order and it can last up to two years. Just like the others, this is issued by a judge after listening to the issues. The accused does not have to attend, but it is always suggested that they do. If it is necessary to continue to have contact with the other person, the accused should tell the judge why at the hearing.

Violating the Protective Order

The Pack Law Group strongly suggests you follow the language of the protective order and do not violate it. For example, if you are ordered to stay away from the person’s home or work place, they have the right to call law enforcement.  If they do so, you are subject to an immediate arrest. Once arrested, you will be charged with a crime.

My Husband Continues to Violate a Protective Order – What Can I Do?

Sadly, our attorneys are faced with this question often. Not everyone will follow a protective order. Instead, the accused will violate the terms by contacting the victim or even visiting them. There are two options in Virginia to handle the situation where your husband continues to violate the protective order against him. The first option is to file a violation petition with the court that issued the protective order and request for your husband be held in civil contempt. The other option is to call the police and have your husband arrested. Your husband can be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor if any of the following violations apply to the situation:

  • He remains on the property, in the premises, or on the land he is restricted from
  • He commits family abuse
  • He commits a criminal offense
  • He contacts you or anyone else who lives in your home

Your husband can be charged with a Class 6 felony if any of the following violations apply to the situation:

  • Enters your home secretly while you are home
  • Enters your home secretly while you are not home, but remains until you arrive home
  • Causes bodily injury to you via assault and battery
  • Begins stalking you
  • Violates any provision in the protective order while carrying a firearm or any other type of deadly weapon
  • Is convicted of a third or subsequent violation of the protective order within 20 years of the initial conviction and the offenses are violent in nature or include a threat

Seek an Experienced Criminal Defense Law Firm

We are here to provide you with a strong defense when facing a protective order. We advise you to always have one our experienced criminal lawyers by your side to provide skilled guidance before speaking to law enforcement or before the judge in a hearing. As trained officers, law enforcement will attempt to elicit a confession from you and we are here to minimize damage to your reputation and standing in the community. You have a right not to answer questions and we need to guide you in that regard in order to have any charges reduced or allegations minimized. This is when you need the experience of the Pack Law Group. With so much at stake, you need representation by attorneys who are dedicated to getting you the most favorable results during this difficult time. Call now for immediate assistance, at 540-586-7225. We serve clients in Bedford, Lynchburg and Roanoke counties and throughout central Virginia. Sources: Virginia State Courts on Protective Orders Virginia Code on Emergency Protective Orders Virginia Legal Aid

How is Child Support Calculated in Virginia?

How is Child Support Calculated in Virginia?

Child Support Calculations

When a marriage is no longer viable, couples often choose to divorce. It is a tragedy and not the way you expected your life to unfold. It is also wise to be informed and know your rights in order to preserve them, especially when children are involved. We will help you decide if you want to file a fault or no-fault divorce.  If children are involved or you do not have a written agreement, you will have to wait one year before you can file for a no-fault divorce. You may want to enter into a legal separation which is available on the grounds of a fault divorce. Others want a complete break and choose a “complete” divorce.

When Children are Involved

When you have children, things become a bit more complicated. When children are involved and there are issues of support or alimony and you do not agree with your spouse, you will have to opt for a contested divorce. In that case, expect the assets of both sides to be assessed as well as the liabilities. We will want to know the relative worth of each of the parents. Some property is jointly owned, some individually. That may include items or property that was acquired before the marriage. You will need skilled legal help during this phase when the court considers the division of assets and how long you were married to determine the level of support. What is the earning power of each spouse? Who should the children live with? The custodial spouse may have the children live with them while the other partner receives a visitation schedule. How liberal that is depends, in part, on the couple. Is the separation friendly or is there animosity? You generally want to work these things out with your former partner, rather than have a court decide these important matters.

How to Determine Child Support

Each parent is expected to contribute financially to support the minor children. The calculations come down to math and are laid out under the child support guidelines in the Virginia Code. For example, say a non-custodial parent has an income of $5,000 a month. He has an obligation of $755 a month for one child, $1,136 a month for two children and it goes up from there. Any custody arrangements would be considered in determining the payments. In a sole custody case, the child support is determined by adding the monthly support obligation to costs for health care coverage and child care costs. The child support depends on what percentage each parent pays into the combined income. Shared custody will determine how much each parent pays. The support is based on how much time the child spends with each parent. Exemptions might include a person who is disabled, institutionalized, or in prison. If a parent is poor, the court has an option to set a payment below the statutory minimum provided that it does not impair the parent’s ability to support a livable housing and provide for basic necessities. If your salary is lowered through no fault of your own, the court may take that into consideration, if it is not deliberate. Conversely, if one’s income increases, the child support payments are likely to increase. Fail to pay child support and in Virginia you are guilty of a Class U misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 and a year in jail or both. Child support continues until the child reached the legal age of adulthood at 18, unless the teen is still living at home. The custodial parent can then petition for child support beyond the age of 18, at least until the child graduates from high school or reaches the age of 19. If the child is disabled mentally or physically, child support can continue beyond the age of 18 if the child lives in the home of a custodial parent. The lawyers at the Pack Law Group can explain divorce and child support issues during a complimentary consultation. We can be reached at our offices in Bedford, Lynchburg, Roanoke and central Virginia at 540-586-7225.  Let us help lighten the load on you as the divorce proceeds. We can help you work toward finalizing your divorce and child support matters.

What to Expect If You Are Arrested in Virginia

What to Expect If You Are Arrested in Virginia

Arrest in Virginia

It’s not uncommon for good people to get caught up in unfortunate situations. If you are like most people who get arrested, you’re confused about the process and terrified about how this event is going to impact your future.

What to Expect If You’re Arrested in Virginia

When the Virginia authorities arrest you for a criminal offense, there are a variety of things that can happen, but the most common is that the police will put you in handcuffs, place you in a police vehicle, and take you before a magistrate. That magistrate will listen to the police officer read the charges against you and will then issue a warrant against you. The next step is to take you to a detention center or the sheriff’s office for booking. This is where you’ll be asked a series of routine questions. These include your name, address, occupation, and any medical conditions or medications you take. You’ll then have your booking picture and fingerprints taken. After this, that same magistrate will address bond, either in person or over video. For many criminal charges, the individual will be released quickly and without bond, with an order to appear in court at a specific date and time. If the charge is more serious, there may be a bond set for your release. Whether you are out on bond or not, failing to appear at that assigned court date is going to result in another charge and your re-arrest once the police catch up with you.

Miranda Rights During Your Arrest

If you watched any of those police shows on television or paid attention in school, you know that the police are required to read you your Miranda Rights. These refer to your right to have an attorney and most importantly to your right to avoid self-incrimination. In other words, you don’t have to provide evidence to the police that can harm you or answer their questions if the answers could be used against you. The common misunderstanding about Miranda Rights is that they are in force whenever and wherever you interact with the police. This isn’t the case. The rights do not go into effect until after you are under arrest. This can also be subjective, however. Miranda Rights will apply after the police have placed you in handcuffs and even possibly when you are in a situation in which you feel you aren’t permitted to leave. For Miranda Rights to apply, you have to assert them. This means that, if you decide to begin speaking about your case to the police without an attorney present, it’s assumed that you have “waived” your rights. Instead, the best course is to clearly tell the police, “I don’t wish to speak with you without an attorney present.”

Avoid These Mistakes During an Arrest in Virginia

It might not seem as if there is a right and wrong way to get arrested, but there is. We’ve already thoroughly covered your Miranda Rights. Avoid saying anything about your circumstances without having an attorney present. In other words, don’t try to give your side of the story or explain yourself. It’s also never a good idea to resist arrest or do anything short of cooperating with the police. They are just doing their jobs, and a poor attitude on your end could result in even more charges that you’ll have to dispute. Simply be polite and keep your eyes open for any mistakes that can be exploited for your defense. Finally, it’s never wise to hold back basic information about yourself during the arrest process, such as your name, address, and date of birth. These are simple identifying factors and refusing to give them or lying about them can result in additional charges.

Arrested in Central Virginia?

If you’ve been arrested in the Bedford or Central Virginia area, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney in your corner. At Pack Law Group, our knowledgeable legal team can answer questions about the process for getting released from jail or any other matter related to your case. Whether you are facing charges for DUI/DWI, drug crimes, theft and property crimes, assault, or a serious traffic violation, we are dedicated to protecting your rights and liberty and will be aggressive legal advocates on your behalf. Contact our office today at 540-586-7225 for immediate assistance.

Accidents that Result from Tailgating

Accidents from Tailgating

One of the most common forms of aggressive driving, as recognized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is tailgating. Tailgating is a driving practice where one vehicle follows another too closely. Tailgating often leads to rear-end accidents, some of them severe based on the speed of travel of both vehicles. Being involved in any type of accident is always a hassle, even if there are no injuries. There’s still a lot of paperwork, dealing with insurance companies, and filing police reports that cause a lot of anxiety. And an accident that results from tailgating is no different.

Common Accidents Caused by Tailgating

The rear-end collision is one of the most common vehicle accidents in the United States, occurring 28 percent of the time when there is a crash, according to data from the NHTSA. When one vehicle follows too closely to another it often leads to a rear-end collision, because the vehicle following too closely has a lowered reaction time. For example, if a car cuts off the vehicle in front and that vehicle slams on its brakes, the trailing vehicle will likely have trouble stopping before it hits the lead vehicle. Another common accident caused by tailgating is the accident involving road rage. Road rage often comes into play with tailgating because the lead vehicle driver gets frustrated with the vehicle following too close to them. The lead vehicle will sometimes brake check the trailing vehicle, which is slamming on the brakes for no reason at all but to upset the trailing driver or let them know that they are not happy with the tailgating. When the lead vehicle brake checks, it often causes an accident that results in an angry feud. Tailgating accidents are also the result of weather issues, such as snow, sleet, rain, fog, or ice. It is recommended that during inclement weather drivers leave plenty of distance between their vehicle and the vehicle in front of them. Inclement weather can prevent drivers from being able to see the vehicle in front of them clearly, which can affect their judgment or depth perception. Tailgating might not be done on purpose in bad weather, but it can still lead to a tragic accident.

Injuries Caused by Tailgating Accidents

Every motor vehicle accident can result in a range of injuries that are either minor or severe. Cuts, scrapes, bruises, broken bones and head trauma can be caused by any type of crash. The injuries that can be caused by a tailgating accident include the following:

  • Fractures
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Neck injuries
  • Damage to internal organs
  • Whiplash
  • Death

The extent or severity of the injuries will depend on the speed at which the two vehicles collided, the angles at which they made impact, and other factors. Many believe that tailgating couldn’t cause a tragic accident resulting in TBI or another serious condition or death because of the lack of distance between the two vehicles. The sad fact is that a tailgating accident can lead to catastrophic results if there is enough speed and force involved.

What to Do if You Are Being Tailgated

If you ever find yourself being tailgated in Virginia, you need to know how to handle the situation. First and foremost, you should never brake check the vehicle behind you. This can cause an accident and even a fight if the trailing driver exhibits road rage. Try to change lanes, if available, to get away from the driver tailgating you. If you do not have another lane available, turn off the road and wait for the vehicle to pass before resuming travel. Tailgating can turn into a serious situation if not handled appropriately.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

Were you or a loved one injured in a tailgating accident in Virginia? If so, it is important that you protect your legal rights immediately by contacting an experienced personal injury attorney. There is so much that can go wrong when you try to handle the aftermath of an accident on your own, especially in a state like Virginia, where a plaintiff can be barred from recovering damages if they are found to be even 1% at fault for the underlying accident. This makes it all the more important to secure strong legal counsel as early as possible. Call the office of the Pack Law Group today at 540-586-7225 to schedule a free consultation or send us a message through our online contact form.

My Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) was above the Legal Limit (.08), so Why do I Need to Hire an Attorney?

My Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) was above the Legal Limit (.08), so Why do I Need to Hire an Attorney?

DUI Arrest in Virginia - Pack Law Group

Driving under the influence (DUI) in Virginia is a serious offense that no one should take lightly, even if it is your first offense. There are harsh consequences for a drunk driving conviction, which may include heavy fines, loss of driving privileges, and even jail time. If you are pulled over for suspicion of DUI or directed into a sobriety checkpoint, you will encounter police officers who are looking for signs of intoxication. Should you exhibit these signs and/or blow higher than .08 on a breathalyzer test, you will be placed under arrest for DUI. In Virginia and all other states, the “per se” BAC legal limit for DUI is .08. This means that if your chemical test measures a .08, you can be convicted for DUI. Even if your eyes weren’t dilated, you weren’t slurring your words, you didn’t stumble while walking or didn’t exhibit any other signs of inebriation, a BAC that is above .08 is all that is needed to determine your guilt. Knowing this, you might wonder why you need to hire an attorney if your BAC was already over the legal limit. After all, the police already have the proof they need, right? So, how is a DUI lawyer going to be able to help me? Even if the state has your BAC recorded at .08 or higher, there are several ways an experienced DUI attorney can help to mitigate the circumstances:

Assistance with Plea Bargaining

One of the biggest advantages of hiring a DUI attorney following an arrest is for assistance with plea bargaining. This is never something you should do on your own. Experienced DUI lawyers know the prosecutors assigned to the case, the judges, and how to argue in a courtroom. If this is your first arrest and charge for DUI, you might be able to negotiate a plea deal. This could mean a reduction in charges, or having the charges dismissed altogether. Your attorney will be familiar with the local courts and they will know what it takes to successfully negotiate a plea bargain. It is important to understand that many Virginia courts are bogged down with heavy caseloads, and if a prosecutor took every case to trial, the courts would be backlogged by several months or perhaps years. For this reason, it is in the prosecutor’s best interests to negotiate plea deals, even in many cases in which they have solid evidence to obtain a conviction. A skilled DUI lawyer will be able to thoroughly assess the case and put together a solid strategy for negotiating with the prosecutor.

Defending Your Innocence

It is possible that you were wrongfully arrested for DUI. But, how can you prove this to a judge? It is virtually impossible to prove your innocence by yourself when it comes to a DUI charge. This becomes increasingly difficult when trying to show that the arrest and investigation into your reported drunk driving was done in bad faith by the officer or officers involved. Some of the questions your lawyer can answer with an investigation of their own include the following:

  • Was the traffic stop valid (i.e., did the officer have reasonable suspicion to initiate the stop)?
  • Was your arrest valid (i.e., did the officer have probable cause to arrest you)?
  • Did the officer follow department procedure for the investigation?
  • Was the chain of command for evidence followed?
  • Was the field sobriety test conducted according to standard protocol?
  • Was the chemical test after the arrest properly administered?

Negotiating a Reduced Sentence

Negotiating a plea deal and negotiating a reduced sentence are two different ways an attorney can help after being charged with DUI. Negotiating a reduced sentence happens after you’ve been charged and convicted for DUI prior to the judge issuing a sentence. Depending on the number of times you’ve been convicted, your lawyer might be able to secure a sentence reduction. This can include less time spent in jail, lower fines paid to the court, and other reduced penalties.

Speak with a Seasoned DUI Attorney

If you were arrested and charged for DUI, either a first offense or subsequent offense, you need to protect your rights and speak with a seasoned DUI attorney. Contact the Pack Law Group at 540-586-7225 to schedule a consultation about your situation. The sooner you consult with an attorney, the sooner you can begin mapping out your defense.