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Last fall, Fairfax County introduced a new nine-officer unit that specifically focuses on catching drunk drivers throughout the area. How were these officer’s selected, you ask?
Officers were hand-picked for the unit after an analysis of their history of DWI arrests. The officers who were chosen averaged 241 DWI arrests per officer over the last seven years. They’ve received advanced training in areas like DWI detection, drug recognition and clear and effective testimony to improve the quality of DWI prosecution. These are professional DWI/DUI Hunters!
When and Where do they patrol?
The squad is currently on duty between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. every day in four-day rotations, spread throughout the county. Their assignments and locations are based mostly on statistical data, requests from station commanders and tips and requests from citizens.
The formation of the squad and the salaries and equipment provided to officers were made possible through a federal grant. Renewal of that grant will likely be dependent on the conviction rates that these officers produce! So, is there a financial incentive for these officers to increase their conviction rate? Who knows? This is what we call “Institutional Bias.”
Those accused of DUI have options
Law enforcement agencies and lawmakers throughout Virginia continue to crack down on drunk driving, implementing programs like highway checkpoints and passing laws mandating tough penalties for those convicted of DUI.
However, you still have certain rights as a defendant, along with numerous strategies you can use to reduce the potential penalties you might face after an arrest. How can an attorney protect your constitutional rights?
A common strategy defendants and their attorneys use in this situation is to challenge the circumstances surrounding the stop. Police officers may not pull over drivers without “reasonable suspicion” that a crime has occurred. An officer must have seen you doing something wrong, such as driving recklessly, speeding, ignoring traffic signals or failing to obey another traffic law. Often, police officers act wrongly on hunches and lack a reasonable suspicion that you were driving while intoxicated.
Defendants are also often subjected to improper testing!
In some cases, police officers fail to follow the proper protocol for field sobriety tests, such as giving the wrong types of tests, acting in an overly intimidating manner, improperly testing your breath for alcohol content and failing to store blood samples correctly.
To learn more about your rights when accused of drunk driving, speak with a skilled Fairfax DUI lawyer at The NoVa Law Firm.