Prince William County is a great place to call home. But last year, we saw the highest number of traffic fatalities that we’ve seen in a decade, and law enforcement is still trying to figure out why. And even though speeding appears to be the biggest cause of crashes, police are trying to keep our residents safe by cracking down on drivers who commit traffic infractions at all levels. This includes keeping a sharp eye out for people driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Aside from getting into an accident, the blue-and-red lights of a police cruiser are most drivers’ worst fear. And for a good reason. A DUI conviction can result in spending time in jail and losing your license for a year or more. But just because you face DUI charges does not mean that you are guilty, and it certainly doesn’t mean you will be convicted. There are many potential defenses to Prince William County DUI charges; it’s just a matter of determining which ones apply in your case. At the Law Offices of Michael A. Pignone, our Prince William County DUI defense attorney can help you fight your charges and avoid the serious consequences that come along with a conviction.
Virginia DUI Law
In Virginia, it is against the law to drive with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher. It is also illegal to drive with any amount of illegal drugs in your system. In the case of a BAC over .08% or a positive drug test, it doesn’t matter if the drugs actually impaired your driving ability.
It is also illegal to drive while under the influence of prescription or over-the-counter medication. However, in these cases, the prosecution must show that the drug impaired your ability to operate a vehicle. Prosecutors may try to prove impairment through a combination of police officer testimony and proof of the amount of drugs in your system. For example, prosecutors may point to any of the following when trying to show you were impaired:
- Slurred speech;
- The presence of alcohol or drugs in the vehicle;
- Red, bloodshot or glassy eyes;
- The smell of alcohol, marijuana, or another drug; and
- Statements you make to the police officer.
Of course, a police officer’s testimony is just one type of evidence allowed in a DUI trial. There are often innocent explanations for some of these factors, and an experienced Prince William County DUI defense lawyer can help explain that to the judge or jury.
Punishment and Sentences for Prince William County DUI Offenses
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a violation of the state’s criminal laws. Thus, unlike some other types of traffic tickets that you can pay and forget about, a DUI conviction exposes you to some pretty serious consequences.
The seriousness of a Prince William County DUI offense depends on a few things:
- Your blood-alcohol level;
- Whether you have any prior convictions;
- If your license was suspended at the time;
- Whether you caused an accident; and
- Whether a child was in the car.
After a DUI conviction, the judge has discretion in sentencing. However, there are limits to a judge’s discretion. For example, a first-time DUI in Prince William County requires the judge to impose at least these minimum penalties:
- A fine of at least $250;
- 12-month license suspension;
- Installation of an ignition interlock device for six months (if you request and obtain a restricted license); and
- Alcohol education class.
On the other hand, the maximum penalty a judge can impose for a first-time DUI includes all of the above, plus up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
Regardless of the sentence imposed, the court will also notify the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) of your conviction. The DMV then adds demerit points to your driving record. In most DUI cases, the DMV adds six demerit points for a DUI conviction. If these points put you over your limit, the DMW imposes a separate administrative suspension. This suspension doesn’t begin until after the court-imposed suspension ends.
How Much Does a Prince William County DUI Lawyer Cost?
After a DUI arrest, it’s common to wonder what the whole ordeal is going to cost you. A significant part of the cost of a DUI comes from the money you pay a lawyer to represent you. Lawyers differ in how they charge clients in DUI cases. Some attorneys use flat fees while others charge by the hour. According to one source, DUI lawyers charge in the range of $1,000 to $5,000 to handle a case. Of course, this is a wide range, and the exact amount that an attorney charges often depends on the complexity of the case. It can also depend on whether your case settles at the plea bargain stage or not. That just makes sense because taking a case to trial is labor-intensive, and therefore, typically costs a bit more.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Veteran Prince William County DUI Defense Attorney
If you face DUI charges in Prince William County, reach out to the Law Offices of Michael A. Pignone for immediate assistance. Prince William County DUI Attorney Pignone has extensive experience handling DUIs from both the defense and prosecution side. Therefore, he knows what it takes to defend against even the toughest cases. For more than 10 years, Attorney Pignone has successfully represented clients charged with all types of DUI offenses and looks forward to discussing how he can help you with your case.
Our experienced legal practitioner also handles other types of cases, including:
To learn more and to schedule a free consultation today, call us. You can also reach us through our online contact form.