Criminal Justice Attorney Helping You Win Your DUI Case And Keep You Out Of Jail
Johnson Law Firm, PC uses expert-level trial techniques to represent DUI clients.
If you have been charged with DUI or DWI, your best chance of a positive outcome requires you finding a top defense attorney immediately. You can spend weeks visiting lawyer websites who claim to be the best , but what you need to do is call Johnson Law Firm, PC. Not only have we been representing clients in DUI and DWI cases for over a decade, but attorney James Johnson is a Nationally Accredited Instructor for Standardized Field Sobriety Test Administration and DUI Detection. He finished top of his class and is able to use he expertise in Field Sobriety Tests to win numerous DUI trials that other attorneys deemed unwinnable.
Unlike many firms who pass their clients down from their partners to the lesser experienced associate attorneys, at Johnson Law Firm, PC attorney James Johnson will handle your case from start to finish. This is a scary time and you have a lot at stake. We will answer you questions and be there to help make this chapter of your life a little more bearable.
We are highly rated with over 30 5-star reviews on Google. Call us today so that we can begin working on a winning strategy for your DUI case.
DUI DWI Attorney for Woodbridge, Virginia
At Johnson Law Firm, we have a unique advantage when it comes to helping our clients fight DUI and DWI charges.
In addition to being a skilled and experienced lawyer representing clients all over the Woodbridge area, Mr. Johnson has also received advanced training and certifications in Standardized Field Sobriety Tests from the NHTSA. This training is the same that police officers get during their time at the police academy.
Further, Mr. Johnson’s DUI training has also made him an accredited instructor to teach other officers how to conduct Field Sobriety Tests. This training means he knows where officers are bound to trip up, and it could spell the winning advantage for your case.
Because of Mr. Johnson’s familiarity with the process and his insider information, he is better equipped than most to represent you in a DUI/DWI case.
If you’ve been pulled over for drunk driving or a DWI, you probably have a lot of questions. We’ll answer the most common questions we get in our office here. You already know that the penalties for a DUI are severe, so we encourage you to get in contact with us right away to discuss your case.
What is the Difference Between a DUI and a DWI?
From a practical and legal standpoint, there’s no difference. A DUI and a DWI equate to the same charge. A DUI is short for “Driving Under the Influence,” and a DWI stands for “Driving While Intoxicated.”
On court documents, you’ll often see DWI in writing; however, in conversation, most people refer to it as a DUI. This is usually because the letter U flows more smoothly in speech than the letter W.
Again, both refer to driving or operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including prescription medication. To be charged with a DWI or a DUI, you don’t necessarily have to be driving, either.
The law is that if you have control over a vehicle, even if the engine is not on, you could find yourself in trouble. Logically, if you are sitting behind the wheel with the keys in your hand or the ignition, you could theoretically operate the vehicle and cause a danger to the community.
In addition to cars and trucks, you could also receive a DWI for operating a train or boat if you’ve been drinking and are impaired.
What Are the Penalties for a DUI in Virginia?
The penalties for a DUI in Virginia depend on a couple of factors, including:
– Your BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration); and
– Whether the DUI is your first offense, or if you’ve been previously charged.
There are black and white legal requirements if your blood alcohol is .15 or above. For BACs of .15 to .20, you must spend at least five days in jail, and there’s no time off for good behavior. If your BAC is over .20, the minimum jail sentence is at least ten days.
As a Class I misdemeanor, the penalties for a first offense are:
– Minimum Fine of $250 with a maximum of $2,500
– Up to 12 months in jail (however, jail time is unlikely if your BAC is under .15)
– Administrative license suspension of 7 days upon arrest
– 1-year license suspension upon being found guilty (achieving a restricted license status is possible for first offenders)
– Enrollment in a course called VASAP, which stands for Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program
If you are charged with a second DWI, especially within five years, the penalties become more severe. Guilty parties are subject to jail time, higher fines, and more extended license suspension periods.
A third DUI conviction within ten years is a felony charge, and it could also require you to forfeit your vehicle.
What Is a Per Se DUI?
Often, we think of people getting pulled over and arrested for a DUI because they were driving erratically. However, in Virginia, you can get a DUI even if you were driving normally and showed no signs of intoxication or impairment.
A Per Se DUI means that when the officer conducted a breathalyzer or blood test, your readings were over the legal limit. This violation means you can still be convicted of a DUI even if your driving was not impaired.
Can I Still Drive to Work After Getting a DUI?
Sometimes. In the case of your first offense, and if your BAC was not excessively high, we can argue that the judge should grant you a restricted license. This restriction allows you to drive, but limits where you can go. You would be allowed to go to work, school, church, and attend other necessary activities.
Can I Get my DUI Reduced to “Wet Reckless?”
Some states, including Virginia, have a charge called “wet reckless,” which is categorized as reckless driving that involves alcohol or drugs.
This violation is a lesser charge than a DUI, and it carries less stigma. The consequences are also less severe. Typically, a wet reckless charge allows the driver to keep his or her license, avoid jail, and prevent job loss. It also saves you from having to install the Interlock Ignition Device (IID) on your car.
Often, our firm can reduce a charge from DUI to wet reckless if the BAC is near the legal limit of .08. Or the prosecution might not have enough proof to convict the driver of a DUI confidently.
If there was an accident or injury associated with this charge, however, the wet reckless option is typically not available.
What Proof Does the Officer Need to Have for a Conviction?
There are two pieces of evidence that the police need to provide the courts to convict someone of a DUI:
- The police must show that the defendant was driving the vehicle or had control of it; and
- There must be proof of a BAC (or other illicit substance) above the legal limit.
Except for a DUI checkpoint, the police must also be able to demonstrate probable cause for stopping your vehicle. It can be difficult for the defendant to prove there was no probable cause, however. The courts tend to take the word of the officer at face value. So, having skilled representation is vital if you feel that you were stopped for an invalid reason or no reason at all.
What if I Refuse a Breath Test?
Though a breath test might be damaging, it’s worse for your case to refuse it. Here’s why: when you operate a vehicle on public Virginia roads, you have already expressed consent for breath or blood tests if you get arrested for a DUI.
If you unreasonably refuse to comply, then you face mandatory license suspension for one year. If this scenario happens a second time, the license suspension will last for three years. This also compromises your eligibility for receiving a restricted driver’s license.
The Officer Never Read Me My Rights. Do I Win the Case?
Not usually. The police officer only needs to read you your Miranda rights when you are being arrested. However, during a routine traffic stop, the officer is bound to get all the information needed to make an arrest. For example, the officer is obliged to observe erratic driving behavior. The officer might smell alcohol on your breath and then issue a Field Sobriety Test, which you could fail.
At this point, the police officer has enough proof to make the arrest, and further questions aren’t likely to be required.
However, once you’ve been taken into custody, the police can no longer ask you incriminating questions or force you to make a statement that implies guilt. If that occurs, any information you provide may not be admissible in court against you.
Can I Get My License Back Before Going to Trial?
There is often a window between when the 7-day administrative license suspension ends and the date of your trial. Keep in mind that for a second offense, the administrative suspension period is 60 days.
Between this date and your trial date, you will be able to pick up your license at the clerk’s office. In some cases, the license will be mailed to you. If for some reason, you do not receive your license in the mail, you can go to the Woodbridge, Virginia, DMV office to get your license reissued.
What Happens If I Get a DUI and I’m Under 21?
Virginia is a zero-tolerance state when it comes to underage drinking and driving. The legal limit, if you’re under 21, is a BAC of .02, which is approximately what your reading would be if you ate a dessert with alcohol in it. If convicted of a DUI and you’re under the age of 21, you could face a substantial fine and mandatory license suspension. Community service hours may also be added to the punishment.
If you’re pulled over for a DUI, it doesn’t necessarily mean an automatic conviction. Get in touch with Mr. Johnson at Johnson Law Firm in Woodbridge, VA, to discuss your case today. You may have more options than you realize.