Second-Time DUI Defense in Arlington
In Virginia, DUI charges are punished very seriously and a second-offense DUI is actually a misdemeanor. This means that any penalties you receive from a conviction would be harsher than a first-offense DUI.
An Arlington DUI lawyer can help you fight your case in court. They can help you find inconsistencies in the State’s case against you and even look into your first DUI to see if it is legally viable. Call to schedule a consultation now to start building a strong defense.
Where Second-Offense DUI Charges are Heard in Arlington
Second-offense DUI charges are also misdemeanors. However, similar to first-offense DUIs, they are heard in General District Court. The General District Court in Arlington is on the third floor of the courthouse, which is located at 1425 North Courthouse Road.
The DUI second offenses handled just like a DUI first offense, except there are enhanced penalties because you’ve been convicted before. General District Court is a no-jury court, so your case will be set for trial and you’ll have a trial by judge only.
If you are unhappy with the judge’s ruling, you have an automatic right to appeal to Circuit Court, which would be the second court that you can go to. In Circuit Court, you can have another judge hear your case or have a jury hear your case. The first place your case is heard, if you have a second DUI or subsequent offense in Virginia and in Arlington, is General District Court.
How Courts Treat Second-Offense DUI Charges
Courts treat second-offense DUI charges very severely, very harshly. In their minds, this person is a danger to the community that they selected to represent. The judges are worried about it. They treat second-time offenders harshly because they want to discourage future similar actions where someone might drive under the influence and put themselves and innocent bystanders in potential physical danger. They include mandatory jail sentences, longer loss of license, higher fines and alcohol education programs.
Building a Defense for Second-Time Arlington DUI
Crafting a defense against a second DUI offense proceeds exactly like you would in a first offense. The first thing an Arlington DUI attorney looks for is whether there was reason to stop your vehicle. If police have stopped your vehicle, they must have reasonable, articulable suspicion to do so and that suspicion must be that you’ve committed a traffic offense or that you were driving under the influence of alcohol.
If they fail to show that they pulled you over under reasonable suspicion of committing a traffic offense or driving under the influence, then the stop might be suppressed and all the evidence that came from that illegal stop would not come into evidence. This should lead to the dismissal of your case.
Then an Arlington DUI lawyer looks to see whether there’s probable cause to arrest the individual. If you have been arrested, the police must have probable cause that you’re driving under the influence of alcohol. They must point to specific factors that they can say in court that led them to believe that you were under the influence.
They usually perform some field sobriety tests for coordination, and look for indicators of intoxication in your eyes, the smell of alcohol, and any admissions you might make. If the police do not have probable cause to arrest you, then the evidence from that illegal arrest must be suppressed. This is a good way to get the charge dismissed.
If a lawyer is unable to win a motion, he or she will then turn to the certificate of analysis that shows that your blood alcohol content was above the legal limit. The Arlington DUI lawyer will then determine whether that was obtained in error or whether there was some problem with the machine or the operation of the machine. If there was, perhaps that would be another way to win the case.
Differences From First-Time DUI Defense
Lastly, if everything mentioned above fails to work, it is up to the Arlington DUI lawyer to look at your first DUI offense and make sure that it is legally valid. He or she would make sure that, if you were previously convicted in a different state, it’s substantially similar to the laws of Virginia and that the judge filled out the form correct. Sometimes, if a judge in the previous case doesn’t check a certain box, you may have a potential defense that you were not rightfully convicted of the previous offense.
Attacking a DUI second charge is a lot like attacking a DUI first charge. Facts vary from case to case and no two cases are the same, but the additional line of attack would be to look at the previous conviction to see if there’s any problem to the previous conviction.