DUI Lawyer Roanoke VA

Need a DUI Lawyer in Roanoke VA?

If you have been charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Roanoke, Virginia, an experienced DUI lawyer can help protect your record – and your rights.

Even if this is your first offense, a DUI/DWI may carry fines, and potentially jail time, depending on the charge, your prior criminal history, your prior history, and the circumstances of the case.

A DUI case involves three elements: pre-stop behavior, field sobriety tests, and lab tests. The government will combine some or all of this evidence to meet is burden that you were driving intoxicated. A DUI lawyer in Roanoke, Virginia, may be able to raise a number of defenses on your behalf to obtain a favorable result and cast reasonable doubt upon the charge.

DUI Law in Roanoke: Elements

What is driving while intoxicated? Under Virginia Code Section 18.2-266, a DWI charge is defined as operating a motor vehicle on a public highway while intoxicated.

For example:

  1. Operating
    1. Driving
    2. Sitting in a parked, operable car with a key in the ignition.
  2. Public Highway
    1. Public street
    2. Parking lot
    3. Local ordinance for private road
  3. Intoxicated
    1. Over age of 21, blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in excess of 0.08
    2. Under age of 21, blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in excess of 0.02
    3. “Under the influence of alcohol” if proven through circumstantial evidence
    4. “Under the influence of” narcotic drug, or any other self-administered drug, “to a degree which impairs his ability to drive or operate”
    5. Combination of drugs or alcohol
    6. Under influence cocaine in excess of 0.02
    7. Under influence methamphetamine in excess of 0.1
  4. Motor Vehicle
    1. Automobile
    2. Moped

Fight a DUI Charge in Roanoke

When a DUI case is charged in Roanoke, the officer will follow the protocol below: pre-stop behavior

Pre-Stop Behavior

A DUI case begins with a traffic stop. The police officer must have reasonable, articulable suspicion to stop your car, either because you are speeding or violating some traffic law. Or, the officer must have probable cause to stop your car on suspicion of drunk driving. Erratic driving, crossing the center dividing line, driving slowly, or swerving in your lane are all considered factors to determine whether the officer met the legal standard for a traffic stop.

A skilled DUI defense lawyer will evaluate the basis for the traffic stop to determine whether the Roanoke police officer was legally justified in stopping your car. Sometimes, the officer makes an error, and if the stop is not valid – then you can argue that the the charge must be dismissed.

Field Sobriety Tests (FST’s)

After your car is stopped, you may be ordered out of the car and asked to complete a series of so-called field sobriety tests (FST’s) to determine whether you were intoxicated while you were operating the car. None of these tests, by themselves, are enough to support a charge. But the government will argue they provide additional evidence to support probable cause for an arrest.

There are four common tests used by Virginia officers in a DUI traffic stop: walking heel to toe along a line; walking and turning; standing on one leg; and assessing horizontal gaze nystagmus. The tests must be conducted according to accepted procedures, or you can argue that the tests are inaccurate and unreliable.

Laboratory Results

During the traffic stop, the officer may ask you to perform a preliminary breath test (PBT). The result of the breath test is not admissible at trial, but it may be the basis for probable cause for the arrest. The officer can obtain a blood or breath test to determine if you were driving above the legal limit of 0.08.

These tests are not perfect and there may be a number of ways to cast doubt on their results. For example:

Test Procedures – The blood/breath test has to be completed within three (3) hours of operating the vehicle. The Virginia Department of Forensic Sciences has issued guidelines for the operating of blood and breath testing equipment, and if these procedures are not followed, then the test results may be dismissed.

Certification Errors – The breath test operator operator, i.e. the officer, must be properly certified. The machine must be properly calibrated. Then, the certificate showing the test results must be filed according to Virginia law. If any of these steps are not properly followed, then the blood or breath tests may be excluded at trial.

Penalties for DUI in Roanoke

Under Virginia Code Section 18.2-270, the various penalties for a DUI conviction depend on the level of blood alcohol content (BAC) and prior record. Here is a brief summary of the penalties for a DUI conviction.

DUI First Offense: Class 1 Misdemeanor (confinement in jail for not more than twelve months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both). Additionally:

  • BAC > .20 < .25: Mandatory minimum 5 days
  • BAC > .25: Mandatory minimum 10 days
DUI Second Offense, w/in 5 years: $200-$2500 fine, 1 month to 12 months in jail, mandatory minimum of 5 days.
DUI Second Offense, 5-10 years: $200-2500, 1 month to 1 year.
  • BAC > .20 < .25: Mandatory minimum 10 days
  • BAC > .25: Mandatory minimum 20 days
Three or more within 10 years: Class 6 felony (a term of imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than five years, or in the discretion of the jury or the court trying the case without a jury, confinement in jail for not more than twelve months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both), and mandatory minimum 10 days.
Three or more within 5 years: Class 6 felony, mandatory minimum 30 days.
Fourth or more within 10 years: Class 6 felony, mandatory minimum 1 year
Given the various penalties, it’s apparent why challenging the BAC reading can be crucial to your case. A variation of only a few points can be the difference between active jail time, or a less severe penalty.

Contact a DUI Lawyer Roanoke VA

The bottom line is that a DUI/DWI charge carries serious consequences and requires a skilled, experienced lawyer who can fight for the best possible result in your case. Contact a DUI lawyer in Roanoke, Virginia, for more information.