Our office has a wealth of experience representing individuals charged with first time and repeat offenses of DUI/DWI. We start each case with an in depth interview that allows us to best determine the options available for you and your family.
At The Law Office of Charles F. Koehler, P.C., we believe that anyone can find themselves in a difficult situation. You shouldn't have to face DUI or DWI charges alone. We specialize in DWI/DUI law and are prepared to fight for your rights from start to finish.
A conviction for first time DUI/DWI offense in Virginia is a Class I Misdemeanor. To convict an individual of this charge the court must find that the accused was operating the car at which point the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the extent he was incapable of safely driving.
The Commonwealth must prove two things to sustain a conviction for DUI: (1) That the defendant operated a motor vehicle on a public road, way or parking area; and (2) that the defendant did so under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is usually done through blood tests and so long:
Driving while intoxicated as a first offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor that carries a mandatory minimum fine of $250. However, if the DWI is based on blood alcohol concentration, the punishment may be harsher. When a person's blood alcohol concentration is at least 0.15, but not more than 0.20, there is an additional consequence. Virginia law requires people convicted with a blood alcohol concentration within this range serve a mandatory minimum of five days in jail for the offense. In cases where the blood alcohol concentration is greater than 0.20, the consequence is an additional mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail.
Upon conviction, the court will also suspend the defendant's license, order a driver to enter into and successfully complete an alcohol safety action program, order the defendant to attend a victim impact panel class and may also order the defendant to install an interlock ignition device on all cars registered to his or her name.
If a person completes the assessment for an alcohol safety action program, the court may, for good cause, decline to order participation in the program. This only occurs if an intervention is not appropriate for the driver.
When you are ready to drive, the ignition interlock will test your breath for alcohol. In order for your car's ignition to be started, you must blow into the system before accelerating or driving in any way. Once you've gained operational privileges, your interlock begins working every time you drive. You are required to blow into the system 80 times per month in order for it to operate. Failure to do so within 10 minutes of being behind the wheel may lead to a driver's license suspension or revocation.
The objective legal basis is a real question, and often one of the great questions in DUI/DWI cases. But a cop's subjective thoughts are not admissible evidence at trial. The reason is simple. If a cop sees a car with a certain bumper sticker or display and decides that the driver is drunk, then he or she can't be accurate unless the DUI/DWI test incorporates those same biases.
Additionally, challenges can be mounted to the conclusions of the officer. Particularly in cases where the blood alcohol concentration does not rise to the mathematically required legal limit, an allegation of intoxication may be challenged.
Law Enforcement uses standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs) in an effort to determine, roadside, whether someone is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These tests commonly include:
The validity of the test results can be challenged on several levels. The integrity of the urine specimen can be challenged from collection procedures to chain of custody. Instrumentation should be well maintained and calibrated. Without proper maintenance, the instrumentation may indicate a positive result when it shouldn't. Interpretations of the test result must also be analyzed to determine if they are accurate and relevant.
Even though you have been charged, this is not necessarily a slam dunk conviction. There are ways to fight a charge, particularly if the identity of the driver is in question, and there are other factors which can help to build a defense. You need to call us today.