Know Your Rights When You’re 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.