DUI -Choosing the Right Attorney



Your MOST Important Decision.

Consider this: An old lady approaches two Boy Scouts and requests their help to cross a very busy city street. From her purse she shows these two Boy Scouts $1000, which will be theirs if either one will attempt to get her safely across this treacherous city street loaded with zooming cars and trucks and no traffic signals to slow or stop them.

One Scout greedily eyes that $1000 and thinks, “I’ll just recklessly jump into that street, do my best to keep myself safe, and if the old lady gets killed, well, I’ll still take that $1000 for my efforts.”

The other Scout goes to work measuring the road, timing the traffic, eyeballing the braking distance of different cars and formulates a plan to dodge those speeding cars and takes every precaution in his attempt to bring this old lady safely to her destination.

Now, YOU are the Old Lady. Which “Scout” do you want working for you?

What You NEED to know… NOW!

For most people in Virginia, their DUI charge will be the first time they’ve EVER been charged with ANY crime, let alone a DUI.The reason for this is simple: People from all walks of life, the rich, the poor, the professional, the blue-collar worker, the student, the teacher, the business executive, the administrative assistant, the military soldier, the Army General with the highest Top Secret Security Clearance, the sports superstar and the Hollywood celebrity ALL have found themselves needing to drive home after dinner at a restaurant, a house party, or having enjoyed a game at the local sports bar. ALL knew that they had something to drink and ALL felt that they were sober enough to drive until some police officer said otherwise. In short, you are in good company and all is not lost.

First: The GOOD News…

There is some immediate GOOD news, even if everything goes wrong for your case First-Offense DUI convictions in Fairfax County, Prince William County, Loudoun County, Arlington County, and the City of Alexandria generally do not result in an active jail sentence. Instead, if you are convicted of a First-Offense DUI, the Virginia Traffic Court Judges in these areas will likely impose a “suspended” period of jail time.

What is a “suspended” jail sentence? Glad you asked. A “suspended” jail sentence is a period of time in jail, for example “30 days” which will never have to be served so long as you don’t commit any other crimes within a specific period of time (usually 12 months) and comply with some requirements from the court. Most of these requirements are mandated by Virginia DUI law and include:

  1. Enrolling into and completing the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (“ASAP”).Virginia ASAP consists of a battery of classes and assignments, which are geared toward preventing those convicted of DUI from repeating the offense.
  2. Surrendering your Virginia Driver’s License privileges for a period of 12 months except during periods explicitly allowed by the Virginia Traffic Court Judge.These allowances will be detailed in a Court-Issued “Restricted Driving License” and generally include the continuing ability to drive to and from work, during work hours (if required), medical appointments, school classes, church, and child-care related activities.
  3. Installing an “Ignition Interlock Device” into your personal vehicle for aperiod of no less than 6 months.Ignition Interlock Devices require that you provide a breath sample before your car will start.They are computers which will also require a periodic breath sample while you are driving.IF the computer detects alcohol on your breath, a report is sent to the Traffic Court and further consequences can be imposed against you by the judge, including that “suspended” jail sentence.Ignition Interlock Devices are meant to ensure that no alcohol is in a driver’s system while operating a vehicle.
  4. Paying all required court costs and fines as ordered by the Virginia Traffic Court Judge.Remember the Virginia ASAP program above?That program, alone, will cost approximately $350.00 or more.Court costs can start at $72.00 and most Northern Virginia County and City Traffic Courts will add a fine to your “punishment” normally ranging from $250 to $500 or more.

In addition, first-time Virginia DUI convictions in Fairfax County, Prince William County, Loudoun County, Arlington County, and the City of Alexandria, where the alleged “Blood Alcohol Content” or “BAC” is .14 or less seldom result in any active jail sentence at all.

Remember that short story above about the Old Lady and the Boy Scouts?

Here is the MOST IMPORTANT consideration when hiring a DUI Defense Attorney in Northern Virginia: In most first-time DUI prosecutions in Northern Virginia where the blood alcohol content is lower than .14, you will eventually be given a choice:

EITHER

(a) Plead Guilty

or

(b) Go to Trial and fight for the chance to be found “Not Guilty” or otherwise get the charge entirely dismissed.

If you choose (a) above, YOU AUTOMATICALLY LOSE and you can expect to receive that “suspended” sentence as detailed above along with those requirements listed there.By pleading guilty so easily, you will learn too late that you hired that first Boy Scout in our story.

If you choose (b) above, and GO TO TRIAL, your DUI Defense Attorney will do all the hard work necessary to prevent the prosecutor from proving to a judge that

  • The police officer had a justifiable reason to pull you over; and
  • The police officer properly conducted his field investigation to determine if you were “more probably than not” DUI; and
  • The police officer did EVERYTHING correctly at the police station related to obtaining a valid breath or blood test from you; and
  • The police officer remained in full compliance with the laws of Virginia at all times during your investigation and arrest; and
  • The police officer never violated any of your rights under the Virginia and United States Constitution

And if, through proper preparation, careful and skillful cross-examination, and knowledgeable arguments in your favor advanced by an experienced hard-working DUI Defense Attorney, the court finds that the police officer did make a mistake,

YOU WIN!

At that point you will know that you hired the right Boy Scout to avoid an unnecessary amount of long term pain and suffering.

BUT WHAT IF YOU MAKE THE PROSECUTOR DO ALL THAT HARD WORK AND YOU STILL LOSE?Well, you still get that same “suspended” sentence as detailed above with those same requirements listed there but you will always know that you hired the right Boy Scout who did all he could to get you to the destination you desired.

SO it should be obvious:BY GOING TO TRIAL YOU CAN POSSIBLY WIN WITH VERY LITTLE TO LOSE IN MOST CASES.BY PLEADING GUILTY YOU AUTOMATICALLY LOSE AND YOU’LL ALWAYS WONDER IF YOU COULD HAVE WON –not to mention wondering what exactly did you pay your DUI lawyer to do for you in the first place!Bad Boy Scout!

Eric Clingan
About the Author: Eric Clingan
Eric Clingan is an experienced Criminal Defense attorney and the founder of the NoVA Law firm. He focuses his practice on defending residents of Northern Virginia charged with DUIs, reckless driving, drug charges, and other criminal accusations.