Virginia Beach DUI Defense
First, you should know that you can overcome your Virginia DUI Charge. If you were recently arrested, you may feel a little overwhelmed or confused, and you may have a lot of questions about the process you went through. Hopefully, we can answer some of your questions on this page, but most of all be assured that with some time and investigation into your case, we can help you move past this charge. As experienced Virginia criminal defense attorneys, our firm is prepared to answer your questions and guide you through the process.
About Your Virginia Driver’s License After a DUI
When you are arrested for DUI, your privilege to drive in the Commonwealth of Virginia is automatically and immediately suspended. Due to being charged with DUI, your license is initially suspended for:
- 7 days – for a first offense
- 60 days (or until trial, whichever comes first) – for a second offense
Anytime after the suspension period ends, you can pick up your license at the office of the Clerk of the General District Court in which your case is scheduled to be heard. If you were charged in Virginia Beach, this will be the Virginia Beach General District Court Clerk’s Office, at 2425 Nimmo Parkway, Virginia Beach, VA 23456. The Clerk’s office is open from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM on business days, but you should not wait until 4pm to arrive as the line might be long and you may not make it to get your license before they close. Remember that you cannot drive until you have your license in hand.
Your First Court Date for a DUI Charge
Your very first court date will be what is called an Arraignment. This is often scheduled very quickly after your arrest; you should look closely at your paperwork. The arraignment date might be 3 – 15 days after your arrest. If you hire a lawyer before your arraignment, you might be able to avoid going to court on your arraignment date, but you must check with your lawyer first to be sure. If you don’t have a lawyer, you will need to go to your arraignment.
On a DUI charge, the arraignment is a brief hearing where the judge will see whether you intend to hire a lawyer or ask that one be appointed to represent you. He will then set a trial date, and tell you what it is. You should hire a skilled DUI lawyer at this point, as quickly as you can. Like most Virginia Beach DUI Attorneys, our calendar fills up very quickly, so to be sure we have plenty of time to investigate your case, you’ll want to give us a call right away.
What To Do When Charged With a Virginia DUI
Everyone realizes how critical it is to hire an experienced Virginia DUI Attorney if you have been charged with Driving Under the Influence. But for many people, this is the first time they’ve ever had to hire a lawyer or defend against a serious criminal charge like DUI. When you hire a good DUI Defense Attorney, he or she will obtain the dash cam or body cam footage from your traffic stop and review it carefully. That video often has revealing details about what officers did or failed to do, and can support the dismissal of your DUI case. We also obtain logs from the Virginia Department of Forensic Science that show when the breathalyzer you were tested with was last calibrated. These machines are highly complex, and require procedures and tests to be performed and documented on a regular basis. When this isn’t done, their results cannot be trusted and this provides a great area for DUI defense.
Local DUI Lawyers Are Best
The judges, prosecutors, officers, and clerks are unique in every jurisdiction. Even something as simple as obtaining a continuance to change the court date can be difficult if your attorney isn’t familiar with the court’s normal procedures. Our skilled DUI Lawyers practice regularly in the courts of Hampton Roads: Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Newport News, and Hampton. It is always wise to hire attorneys who have regular practice in the particular court where your trial will be. While some lawyers would be willing to go to courts all over the state, we limit our practice to the local courts that we know best.
What Has To Be Proven on a DUI Trial
The Commonwealth has to prove essentially three things:
- They had a legal reason to pull you over.
- You were operating a vehicle.
- You were under the influence of alcohol or drugs of some type.
Within each of those three points, there are numerous sub-elements that must be proven. These include technical requirements related to alcohol or drug testing, and procedural requirements in making the traffic stop, administering tests, and making the arrest. Any mistakes or errors in this process can provide grounds for a defense to the DUI charge.
What the punishment for a conviction depends on a few different factors, including whether or not this is your first offense, what your specific blood alcohol level was, and how cooperative you were with the police officers.
However, here are the general guidelines (but remember the judge can impose up to 12 months in jail on any DUI Case, these are the minimums).
- First offense with a blood alcohol level below 0.15 – mandatory minimum fine of $250.
- First offense with a blood alcohol level of 0.15 to 0.20 – five days mandatory minimum jail time.
- First offense with blood alcohol level greater than .20 – ten days mandatory minimum jail time.
- Second offense within 5 years – mandatory minimum jail time of 20 days.
- Second offense within 10 years – mandatory minimum jail time of 10 days.
In every first offense conviction, you also face:
- License suspension for 12 months Ignition interlock for a restricted license VASAP.
- For second offense convictions, the license suspension is three years, and you cannot get a restricted license for at least the first four months.
The above is not a complete list of all possible consequences, it’s just a sampling of the various possibilities. To get a better handle on what you might be facing in your specific case, contact us for a free consultation with one of our DUI Attorneys.
Your Virginia DUI Trial
Your DUI trial will be heard in the General District Court where the offense occurred. The initial trial will be handled solely by a judge (no jury). When you arrive at court, you’ll discuss any final plea negotiations with your attorney and make a decision about how to proceed. In most DUI cases, you’ll have two choices:
- Accept a plea agreement your attorney has worked out for you
- Plead not guilty and have a trial
Our goal for clients is to have all the information we need before the trial date, so we’ll know what we’re going to do ahead of time. But this is not always possible due to the lack of full evidence sharing in some jurisdictions in Virginia. So there are times when we’ll have to make critical decisions on the morning of court.
Getting a Virginia Restricted Driver’s License After a DUI
For any conviction of DUI, you’re facing suspension of your Virginia license (or privilege to drive in Virginia). Fortunately, if this is your first offense, you should be eligible for a restricted license immediately upon conviction.
Expediting that restricted license is one reason I always recommend working with a DUI attorney who is local to the court. With some courts, you might be able to get your restricted license on the day of court. However, others have specific days when you have to return to apply for your restricted license. We can walk you through this process depending on which Hampton Roads Court your case is in.
When you get a DUI restricted license, you are required to have an ignition interlock on any vehicle that you operate. The interlock is only required for the first six months.
If this is your first offense, you’re eligible to fully reinstate your license after 12 months. If you have a restricted license, you’ll already have done most of this. To reinstate, you’ll normally have to
1. Pay the DMV reinstatement fee.
2. Have an insurance company file an FR-44 with DMV.
3. Take any required written/road/eye exams.
4. Complete VASAP.
In most cases where you get a restricted license, these things will be done well before the 12 months ends. In those situations, you should be able to go to DMV on the 366th day to get a brand new regular license.
For Experienced Legal Representation, Contact the Virginia Beach DUI Attorneys at East Coast Trial Lawyers
At East Coast Trial Lawyers, our Attorneys are prepared to handle your DUI Defense in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Hampton, or Newport News. Our consultations on criminal cases are always free, contact us today by calling 757-352-2237 or via our online contact form.