Have you heard the phrase, “innocent until proven guilty?”
If you haven’t, it basically means that until the prosecutor has presented enough evidence to convict you of a charge, you are considered innocent. Unfortunately, when you’re arrested for a DUI, it seems to be the opposite.
Once you’ve been charged with driving under the influence, it can feel like you are guilty until proven innocent. Because of this, it is important to consider a DUI attorney to help walk you through the process.
We’re going to take a quick look at when you should consider hiring an attorney specializing in DUI charges. Keep reading to find out more!
BAC is blood alcohol content, and it can be a determining factor in how “guilty” you are. The legal limit for driving is 0.08% and the higher yours climbs, the worse your outcome will be.
Even if your BAC hasn’t surpassed the 0.08% limit, you can still wind up with a DUI charge as the arresting officer has this discretion. This means that if you are slurring words or functioning unsteadily, a BAC below the limit won’t save you.
Should your BAC be double or triple the limit, you may be looking at increased fines and jail time. There is also the possibility that the judge will hand down the maximum sentence in regards to classes, community service, license suspension, and any other consequence.
Hiring an attorney for a first offense DUI can often be seen as optional. Often, the consequences are quite similar across the board, but a DUI attorney can help the process move along smoothly.
However, should this charge be a second or subsequent offense, hiring an attorney isn’t an option. Your attorney will be able to take a closer look into your last case for any technicalities that may help reduce the new charge.
An attorney may also be able to plead your case with the prosecutor for a deal that may include rehabilitation, substance abuse counseling, or extra community service.
No matter if this is your first, second, or eighth DUI charge if it resulted in bodily injury or death to someone else, an attorney is necessary. We hope you did not injure anyone while driving under the influence, but if you did, the penalties will be tough.
Causing harm to someone else is an ‘aggravating’ circumstance which means that in addition to the penalties of a DUI charge, you will face enhanced punishments.
Minors in the Vehicle
Another aggravating circumstance is if there were minors in the vehicle at the time of your arrest. You can be charged with a DUI or a DUI with a child in the car.
There is also a chance of a child endangerment charge which can carry other penalties and may even affect your custody.
Commercial Driver’s License
The standard BAC is 0.08% unless you are a CDL holder. When you hold a CDL, the maximum is a 0.04%. This means that you have less leeway when it comes to negotiating your charge and penalties.
It also means that you will probably need an attorney to help you retain your license. For a first offense, you will see a suspension period, but for more than one DUI arrest, you will permanently lose your license.
Because your CDL is part of your source of income, it is imperative to retain your privileges. This is where a DUI attorney will be able to help!
Charged Under 21
If you were under 21 at the time of your DUI arrest, your BAC limit was 0.02%. This means that there is basically a zero-tolerance policy in effect and if you had any alcohol in your system, you will face the full penalties of a DUI.
Many judges want troubled youth to make the right choices and walk the right path. This means that there may be options available to help the offender move past this major charge.
One of these options may include a pre-trial diversion program. This program could require rehab, working with others, or have requirements for completing a high school equivalency diploma or staying in college. Generally, these leniencies are at the discretion of the judge but are designed to reduce recidivism among young adults and give them second chance.
As stated, having a DUI means you are guilty until proven innocent. In the event that you have been mistakingly charged and you were, in fact, sober at the time of arrest, speaking with an attorney may save you a huge headache.
There are several factors that may have lead to your arrest. If you know that you had no mind-altering substances in your system, there is a fair chance you can beat the charge. A DUI attorney that is familiar with all possible arguments will greatly benefit you.
Calibration & Other Technicalities
Every breathalyzer should be calibrated periodically in order to give a true reading of blood alcohol content. If the unit has not been maintained and calibrated properly, it may have shown a higher BAC reading than what was in your system.
Additionally, if the officer was not trained to use the breathalyzer or give a field sobriety test, your tests may be inadmissible in court.
Your DUI attorney will also be able to obtain the videos of your arrest during the discovery period. This will allow a closer look at the officer’s behavior, the reason for pulling you over, and if there were any extenuating circumstances resulting in a failed field sobriety test.
Hiring the Best DUI Attorney
Driving under the influence is a serious charge with harsh and costly penalties. Choosing to fight it alone could result in the judge ‘throwing the book’ at you, or handing down the toughest penalties possible.
When you choose to hire a DUI attorney, you can trust that they will walk you through the court proceedings, help you with obtaining a hardship license, and negotiate the best deals possible.
If you are dealing with a DUI charge in Fairfax County and would like to speak with an attorney, contact us!