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First Offense DUI in Arlington

While Arlington county may not be the largest county in Virginia, it has a very large number of bars and restaurants where locals getting off work or visitors exploring DC can grab a drink. There are more happy hour deals and late night bar options in Arlington county than most other counties in the area. For this, among other reasons, DUI enforcement is strict in Arlington County, Virginia.

If you’ve been charged with a DUI or a DWI in Arlington County you might have questions and concerns about the court process, potential defenses, and consequences that you might be facing. Because Virginia does not have a first offender DUI disposition program like other states such as Maryland and the District of Columbia, a lot might be at stake.

If you are charged with a DUI in Arlington County, one of the smartest things you can do is consult with a skilled Arlington County DUI lawyer who will provide you with a free case assessment. Doing this will likely provide you with some peace of mind, and a DUI attorney might be able to improve your outcome.

If you are in need of help, don’t hesitate to contact S&R Law Firm, PLLC for a free consultation on your case.

What am I Facing?

If you’re facing a DUI charge, you’re likely charged under Virginia code section §18.2-266 or §18.2-270. These code sections lay out the elements and consequences of a DUI in Virginia. Under these code sections, the maximum penalty you are facing for your first offense is 12 months in jail, a maximum fine of $2,500, and a loss of your privilege to drive in Virginia for 12 months. Additionally, the courts require that a 12-week Virginia Alcohol and Safety Awareness Class (VASAP) be completed.

That said, these are the maximum penalties. Quite often, DUI cases resolve with a $250 fine and no active period of incarceration. If convicted, however, one must enroll and complete ASAP (VASAP) classes, lose their privilege to drive in Virginia for 12 months (with the ability to petition the court for a restricted license), and have an ignition interlock device installed on any vehicle you own or operate. Because DUIs are taken seriously in Arlington County, prosecutors in Arlington are not likely to amend your DUI or DWI to a lesser offense unless there is an issue regarding the stop, arrest, or breath machine that was used to examine your breath sample. Accordingly, without a legal justification, prosecutors will want to proceed on the charge as it stands with some variation of the consequences listed above. The consequences associated with your case will depend on several factors.

Jail Time

If you provided a breath sample at the station and your blood alcohol level (BAC) was less than .15, you are not facing mandatory jail time. Aggravating circumstances – for example, an accident – might incline a judge or prosecutor to seek an active jail sentence. If your BAC was greater than .15 but less than .20 then you are facing a mandatory 5 day jail sentence. If you provided a breath sample greater than .20, you are facing 10 days of mandatory incarceration. During your free consultation, our Arlington County DUI attorney will help you determine whether active incarceration is likely, what defenses you have, and how to avoid mandatory time if you provided an elevated breath alcohol content in excess of .15.

Prosecutors in Arlington look not only to whether there is an elevated blood alcohol level when determining if jail time is appropriate, but they will look to other aggravating factors in your case. Aggravating factors can include high speed, dangerous driving behavior, an accident, or combative and/or aggressive behavior when interacting with the officers on scene.

Loss of License

If you are found guilty of a first offense DUI in Arlington County, you will lose your privilege to drive in Virginia for 12 months; however, this does not mean that you will have to go 12 months without driving. If you are an out of state driver, Arlington County cannot suspend your license but can instead suspend your ability to drive in Virginia. Because of the interstate compact and reporting agreements between states, your ‘home state’ might be notified that you were convicted of a DUI in Arlington, Virginia. Your home state may choose to implement that suspension, so be sure to ask your Arlington DUI lawyer about whether this will potentially impact your out of state license.

This does not mean that you have no other option but to walk or take the metro. Depending on your driving record, Arlington county judges can authorize a restricted license. If you are authorized to drive on a restricted license for 12 months you will most likely have additional requirements to complete. With the authorization of a restricted license, Arlington county will require you to get an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle. You must have that installed for at least 6 months before you can petition the court to have it removed. You will be required to pay for and regularly maintain that device for the duration of its installation. During your free consultation, ask our Arlington County DUI attorney whether you qualify for a restricted operator’s license and what restrictions you may have imposed upon you.

If you’ve been charged with a first offense DUI in Arlington, or for a second or subsequent DUI offense, contacting a DUI attorney in Arlington County is typically in your best interest. At S&R Law Firm, PLLC, our Arlington County criminal defense attorney offers free consultations where we will explain your rights and tell you whether you may be able to get your charges reduced.

What are My Next Steps?

When it comes to defending DUIs in Arlington County, timing is everything. We cannot stress this enough.

Once you’ve retained our firm, we create a defense strategy for your case. A well thought out plan for representation will require time and meticulous planning. Our firm will get a copy of the police report and any video evidence that is available. In most counties, copies of the videos and/or police reports are not made available to us until your first court date.

However, Arlington is one of the few counties that allows access to videos and police reports prior to court. That is partly why it is so important to speak to an Arlington DUI lawyer regarding your DUI as soon as possible. The faster we can get working on your case, the faster we can review the reports, video, and create our defense strategy. Arlington County has open file discovery. Open file discovery allows our Arlington lawyer to reach out as soon as a prosecutor is assigned to your case and have them place the police report and video out for us to review. If you would like to review your video with us, you will be able to view it in the Arlington County Commonwealth Attorney’s office with your attorney as they do not distribute copies.

What Will Happen on My Court Date?

Since Arlington County allow for review of discovery material (i.e. police reports and video) ahead of time, judges expect your lawyer to be ready to proceed with trial on the first court date. That does not mean that they will not grant a continuance if needed, but it is all the more reason to hire a skilled Arlington DUI lawyer early. On your court date, make sure you arrive to court at least 30 minutes early. This extra time allows to you to find parking around the building and get through security. The Arlington County courthouse is one of the stricter courts in the area and does not allow any form of electronic devices: you are not allowed to bring computers, cell phones, or smart devices into the Arlington County courthouse. If you and your Arlington criminal defense attorney decide to go to trial, your case will first be heard in front of a judge only. If you are found guilty, you have 10 days to appeal that decision to the Arlington County Circuit Court and it is then that you can speak to your attorney about having the case heard in front of a judge or a jury.

If you need help after being charged with a DUI in Arlington County, the Virginia DUI lawyers at S&R Law Firm, PLLC may be able to help you get your charge reduced or dismissed. Get in touch with us today for a free consultation at 703.273.6431.

What if This is not My First Offense?

During your free consultation, be sure to mention any prior DUIs that you received within the last 10 years. Your Arlington attorney will be able to inform you how they will affect your new charges. Generically, Virginia code section §18.2-270, lays out in detail the consequences of subsequent DUIs / DWIs.

DUI / DWI 2nd Offense Within Five Years

If this is your second offense within five years, then please contact an Arlington DUI lawyer at our office to discuss the consequences of a second conviction. Arlington prosecutors take second offenses even more seriously and there is a higher likelihood of jail time. Any conviction of a DUI/DWI 2nd within five years will require a mandatory minimum fine of $500 and a mandatory jail sentence of 20 days. This does not include the mandatory jail time required if you blew an elevated blood alcohol level at the station. Additionally, your right to drive in Virginia will be suspended for 36 months and you are not eligible to apply for a restricted license for at least a year. You will still be required to have ignition interlock installed and maintained on your vehicle for at least six months.

DUI / DWI 2nd Offense Within Five to Ten Years

If this is your second DUI offense within five to ten years, then any conviction will require a mandatory minimum fine of $500 and a mandatory jail sentence of 10 days. Again, this does not include any mandatory jail time associated with an elevated blood alcohol level documented at the station. Additionally, your right to drive in Virginia will be suspended for 36 months and you cannot apply for a restricted license for at least four months. You will still be required to have ignition interlock installed and maintained on your vehicle for at least six months.

If it’s my Second Offense, What Can I Do to Avoid the Mandatory Jail Time?

Please contact a criminal defense attorney at the S&R Law Firm if you have been charged with a DUI 2nd offense. For you to be found guilty in Arlington of a DUI 2nd within 5 or 2nd within 5 to 10 years, the prosecutor needs to prove that you were convicted of a DUI/DWI 1st. There are legal requirements that must be met in order to show that you were convicted of a previous DUI. If your previous DUI conviction was out of state, it may not qualify as a prior conviction. Our Arlington DUI/DWI attorneys can discuss your specific case strategy and what consequences you are facing and how to potentially avoid them.

Need Legal Help? Contact a Virginia DUI Attorney

If you are in need of legal help after a DUI charge in Arlington County, the team at S&R Law Firm, PLLC may be able to help with a free consultation. During this conversation, you will discuss your case with an experienced DUI attorney serving Arlington, who will tell you more about your rights, the pros and cons of fighting the charge, and how we may be able to help. Once they give you more details on what to expect in court.

Contact us today at 703.273.6431.

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