It is relatively well known across criminal, DUI and traffic law firms in Virginia that the Commonwealth has some of the strictest drunk driving laws in the country. Most criminal and traffic charges, such DUI and DWI, are treated the same across Virginia’s jurisdictions. However, criminal defense attorneys and DUI lawyers who practice near Alexandria will have a much better idea of what to expect with an Alexandria DUI charge in court, how the prosecutors and judges will react, and how to build the best possible defense for an Alexandria DUI or DWI.
Less than ten miles outside of Washington DC, the City of Alexandria is situated along the western side of the Potomac River. If your DUI or DWI charge occurred in Old Town, Del Ray, North Ridge, Rosemont, Eisenhower Valley, or any of the surrounding neighborhoods, your case will be heard at the Alexandria General District Court. Many of Alexandria’s residents work in government and those who have been charged with DUI wonder if their security clearance is at risk. This is one of many questions you may have during your free consultation with one of our Alexandria DUI defense lawyers.
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ALEXANDRIA DUI DEFENSE LAWYER EXPLAINS WHAT TO EXPECT IN COURT
DUI and DWI cases in Alexandria are typically heard at 9:00am or 9:30am Monday through Friday. If you were not arraigned by a magistrate shortly after your DUI arrest, you will receive an arraignment hearing date at the Alexandria Courthouse. If you retain a DUI lawyer prior to your arraignment date, your lawyer should be able to have your appearance at the arraignment waived. Likewise, if the court gives you an attorney review date or an “information on attorney” hearing, your DUI lawyer will most likely have your appearance for that date waived as well. Of course, plan on attending every court appearance unless instructed otherwise by your Alexandria DUI lawyer.
After your arraignment and/or attorney review hearings, your DUI charge in Alexandria will be scheduled for either status or trial. If your case involved a blood sample taken at the hospital, your case will be set for status. If you provided a breath sample at the police station or were charged with refusal in addition to your DUI in Alexandria, your case will be set for trial. The purpose of a status hearing is to determinewhether or not the lab is back to show what your blood alcohol concentration or “BAC” was at the time of your DUI arrest. The prosecutor must show that a search warrant for your blood was properly executed for the evidence to be permissible (brought into evidence at your hearing).
Each jurisdiction within Virginia handles DUI cases differently. Although the penalties for a Virginia DUI are the same in every area within the Commonwealth, prosecutors’ offices handle the discovery (evidence collecting) process differently. In Virginia, the prosecution is obligated to hand over three pieces of information to your DUI defense lawyer: the statements you made during your DUI arrest, your criminal history, and any information pertaining to expert witnesses. However, there is also a possibility that your DUI arrest in Alexandria was recorded by the officer’s dashcam. If this is the case, most Alexandria prosecutors will provide your DUI defense lawyer with a copy.
Once discovery has been reviewed, it is time for your DUI lawyer to begin strategizing your defense that is specific to your DUI. Your DUI case in Alexandria could have occurred on the same street, with the same arresting officer, at the same time of day or night as another Alexandria DUI case – but it is important to understand that your DUI case is unique with its own set of facts. Your DUI charge cannot be compared to any other DUI charge, no matter the similarities. Once your Alexandria DUI lawyer is aware of the facts of your case, he or she is equipped to build the strongest possible defense for your case.
ALEXANDRIA DUI & DWI: BLOOD CASE VS. BREATH CASE
DWI breath cases are more common than DWI blood cases in Virginia, but our law firm sees more DWI blood cases in Alexandria than in any other jurisdiction in Virginia. If you took a breath test at the police station after your DUI arrest, you have been charged with a standard DWI. It is your DUI lawyer’s duty to request the certificate of analysis (showing your blood alcohol level) in your case and to send the certificate to the Department of Forensic Science (DFS) once it is received. Your DWI lawyer sends the certificate along with a Freedom of Information Act request to DFS in order to study the specifics of the breath machine used in your DWI case. These machines must be calibrated and certified properly in order for the certificate to be validated.
If you refused to submit to a breath test at the police station after your DUI arrest in Alexandria, or if the breath machine was not in service, the officer will likely request a blood draw from the nearest hospital. You may still refuse to submit to the blood draw, but you will receive a refusal charge in addition to your DUI. It is your arresting officer’s duty to ensure that the search warrant for your blood is executed properly, otherwise this creates problems for the prosecutor’s case. An experienced DUI lawyer in Alexandria will be able to recognize any issues with the warrant for your blood draw and will use those issues strategically in your defense. Our Alexandria DUI lawyers have represented numerous adults and juveniles who have been charged with DWI and DUI in Alexandria and they know how to study each piece of evidence in your case for the best possible defense.
IMPLIED CONSENT: DUI & REFUSAL IN ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA
As a licensed driver in the Commonwealth of Virginia, you have already consented to the chemical testing of your blood in the event of a lawful DUI arrest. Because possessing a driver’s license is a privilege rather than a right, you are obligated to take either a breath or blood test after your lawful DUI arrest in Virginia. This is commonly referred to as implied consent. You do not have the option of choosing which test you would prefer – this decision is up to the arresting officer. Typically, the breath test at the police station is offered after a DUI arrest unless the defendant is unable to submit to a breath test or if the breath machine is not in service. If you are convicted of refusal in Virginia, you will lose your license for one year. You will not be eligible for a restricted license.
Many individuals are offered the preliminary breath test (PBT) at the scene of their DUI arrest in Alexandria. Many people who have been arrested for DWI believe the PBT and the breath test at the station are one in the same. This is not the case – The PBT is voluntary, but if you consented to it, the result is only used as probable cause to arrest you for DWI. The PBT result is inadmissible (meaning it does not come in to evidence) in court, but is used as probable cause for a DWI arrest. The only way the result of a PBT would come into evidence is if your Alexandria DUI lawyer believed there is reason to challenge it.
ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA COURTHOUSE INFORMATION
If you have been charged with DUI or DWI in Alexandria, Virginia, your case will be heard at the Alexandria General District Court. The courthouse is located at 520 King Street Alexandria, Virginia 22320. Cell phones are permitted inside the courthouse. The traffic clerk’s office phone number is (703) 746-4041 and the criminal clerk’s office phone number is (703) 746-4030. Your DUI case will likely be heard at 9:00am or 9:30am on the second floor of the courthouse.
VIRGINIA’S ONLINE JUDICIAL SYSTEM: ACCESS YOUR ALEXANDRIA DUI CASE INFORMATION
The Commonwealth of Virginia provides an online “case system,” which may be helpful to both Alexandria DUI lawyers and their clients. You may use this site to look up individual court information, such as phone numbers, addresses, and policies as well as information on your specific case.* Please note that if your case is being handled in the Juvenile & Domestic Relations District Court, you will not be able to access your case information online.You may check the status of your case at www.courts.state.va.us any time. Locate the tab on the left-hand side of the home page, and then click the following:
Case Status and Information
General District Court (you will be asked to enter the reCAPTCHA)
Under the “Court” tab, select Fairfax County or Fairfax City
Under Traffic/Criminal, click Name Search
The ability to check your case status online may be helpful for several reasons:
- You forgot your court date or time
- You want to check in advance which courtroom your DUI hearing is in
- You want to check your previous charges
- You want to confirm that your attorney is on record
- You want to know the name of your arresting officer
- You want to know your case number
*If you do not see your case posted, do not be alarmed. Some cases are not posted online until a week or even a day before the court date. If your case is in the Juvenile & Domestic Relations District Court, you will not have access to your case information online.
EXPERIENCED DUI LAWYER EXPLAINS UNDERAGE DUI AND DWI IN ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA
It is a common misunderstanding that an underage DUI charge in Virginia faces less harsh penalties that a standard DUI. The Commonwealth of Virginia has a strict zero tolerance policy when it comes to drinking and driving, and that policy is the same for underage DUI charges. If you have been charged with underage DUI in Alexandria or Northern Virginia, you are facing the same penalties as someone who is 21 or older and charged with DUI.