Defending a DWI in Virginia
While there are many defenses that will help one avoid a Fairfax DWI conviction, there are other cases where these same defenses can be used to reduce the imposed punishment for that offense. At the Law Office of Faraji Rosenthall, our skilled Virginia DWI attorneys always review all the facts of a DWI arrest to see if some or all of these defenses can be used to help get a good result in your case.
The most common Fairfax DWI defenses deal with:
- Reason for the stop
- Administration of the field sobriety tests
- Breath or blood test
- Breath or blood sheet (test results)
Reasons for the Fairfax DWI Stop
Typically, the classic scenario for a DWI in Fairfax involves a police officer that has pulled over the suspect. To protect motorists, the law limits the reasons an officer can stop a driver–in order to pull them over, the police must have reasonable suspicion. It is required that he or she articulates to the judge that the traffic stop was for a valid, legitimate reason. Our Virginia DWI lawyers will take the necessary steps before a client’s court date to learn the reasons the officer initiated the stop. Should there be cause to suspect that the defendant was pulled over for some invalid reason, our experienced legal team will investigate that defense and use it to improve the outcome of a client’s case. return to top
Field Sobriety Tests in Virginia
Once police stop a driver suspected of driving while under the influence of alcohol, officers will generally ask the motorist to perform a series of field sobriety tests. Typically, these tests are voluntary are designed to be used against the driver at trial. Additionally, they are also used to help determine whether the officer has a valid reason for making a DWI arrest. Field sobriety tests administered by the Fairfax police tend to include: the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test, the one-legged stand, the walk and turn, the alphabet test, the number count, the finger-to-nose test, the finger count test and the preliminary breath test.
Regardless of which test is ordered, there is a very specific manner in which they are to be administered, based on standards established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In other cases, field sobriety tests have been developed based upon standards implemented by the Fairfax police themselves. No matter which examinations are performed, the law enforcement official is required to follow the standards exactly. Should the officer fail to administer the field sobriety tests according to protocol, their mistake could be a potentially powerful defense to a Virginia DWI charge.
Lastly, should the police officer make an arrest after performing field sobriety tests, it is required that they have probable cause to do so – or in other words, the belief, based on available evidence, that the motorist is operating their car while intoxicated. For defendants, this is another aspect of Fairfax DWI cases that can be attacked. For example, if a driver performs well on the field sobriety tests but is still arrested anyways, a judge may find the arrest invalid and dismiss the charges against the defendant. return to top
Fairfax DWI Arrests
Should an officer decide to make an arrest on the suspicion of intoxicated driving, he or she must follow a series of regulations dictating how it is supposed to be made. Beyond the reasonable suspicion and probably cause arguments, law enforcement officials must ensure that the actual arrest is done in such a way that is guarantees the accuracy of any alcohol test that is later taken. return to top
Breath or Blood Tests in Virginia
After being arrested, a Virginia DWI suspect is usually taken for a chemical test to determine his or her blood alcohol content (BAC). In Fairfax, this testing usually takes place at the jail. Regardless of where it is performed, it is a very difficult process to accurately measure a defendant’s BAC. As the breath test machine is a sophisticated piece of equipment, special training is required to properly operate it. Our knowledgeable Virginia DWI attorneys will examine the history of the machine to ensure that it has been properly maintained and that it was functioning correctly at the time of the test. Should a problem with the way the test’s administration be discovered, defendants can use that fact to their advantage.
Blood tests in Virginia present additional defenses. The nurse who took the blood and the toxicologist who analyzes it must be appropriately certified and comply with several requirements, facts that both individuals must testify to in court. The law enforcement official must also make sure to take blood in a way that it ensures the accuracy of the test. Anytime the Commonwealth is planning to use a blood test to prosecute a DWI, there are likely many defenses that exist. Even if mistakes made by the state of Virginia aren’t the most helpful, they always make it more difficult for the prosecutor to secure a conviction. return to top
Examining VA Blood or Breath Test Results
In any DWI case where a blood or breath test is done, one of the most powerful pieces of evidence is likely to be the sheet of paper that shows the results. It is the goal of the Fairfax DWI lawyer to prove why the sheet is inaccurate, or try to prevent the sheet from being used in the prosecutor’s case if possible.
Every time our skilled legal team handles a Virginia DWI case, the conversation begins with the breath sheet. Even during an initial consultation, our attorneys will review the sheet from the clerk’s office, giving us a preliminary idea if there is a deficiency on the document that can be used to craft a successful DWI defense strategy. return to top