Why should Virginia drivers hire a lawyer after a drunk driving arrest?

Working with a drunk driving attorney may help drivers in Virginia mitigate the potential consequences and long-term effects of their arrests.

Each day, numerous drivers are stopped by law enforcement officers on suspicion of drunk driving. In fact, the Virginia Department of State Police reports there were 21,264 adults arrested across the state for driving under the influence in 2015 alone. Many who find themselves facing DUI charges consider acting on their own behalf in court, but there are numerous benefits to obtaining legal counsel to assist them with their cases.

Familiarity with the procedures

From having probable cause to conduct their stop to Mirandizing drivers the decide to charge with drunk driving to performing the breath test, there are specific procedures that law enforcement officers must follow. Attorneys who primarily handle criminal defense cases are generally aware of these protocols. They may use their knowledge to help ensure their clients' rights were not violated at any stage through their stop and arrest, and argue for a dismissal of the charges if such an infringement occurred.

Understanding the laws

There is more to DUI laws in Virginia than drivers simply facing criminal charges if they are found with a blood alcohol content level of 0.08 percent or higher. People may face heightened charges and more severe penalties under certain circumstances, such as having prior drunk driving convictions or aggravating factors at the time of their arrests. Further, motorists' actions during their stops may result in additional charges. For example, they might face a Class 2 misdemeanor for refusing a breath test, on top of their drunk driving charge.

Drunk driving lawyers are generally familiar with the intricacies of the laws. They may use this understanding to help make certain their clients are appropriately charged or to seek a reduction or dismissal of the charges when there is room for negotiation.

Calling the evidence into question

The authorities often rely on the results of breath tests to prove drivers were under the influence of alcohol at the time of their arrests. Knowing their results, many feel they have no choice but to accept the potential consequences. However, there are several factors that may cause inaccurate readings. These include certain medical conditions, the temperature, the atmospheric pressure, motorists' activities prior to being tested and eating some types of foods. A DUI attorney may know how to find and present experts or other evidence that explains the falsely high results, which may help reduce the weight they might otherwise have carried with the court or a jury.

Dealing with the potential penalties

Drunk driving is punished harshly in Virginia, and depending on various factors, people may face consequences including fines, a revocation of their driver's licenses and a jail term. The law assigns mandatory minimums and maximums for sentencing, leaving room in the middle for attorneys to help mitigate the potential penalties their clients might face as a result of a DUI conviction. Lawyers who primarily handle cases involving alcohol-related offenses are generally aware of the sentencing options, as well as when it is appropriate and how to go about seeking lessened consequences.

Long after they have served their time in jail or on probation and have paid their fines, the effects of DUI arrests may endure for people in Virginia. Working with an attorney may help those facing drunk driving charges to protect their futures. A lawyer may help look out for their interests and aid them in developing a strong criminal defense.