How Are DUI Cases Handled in Arlington, Virginia?
After a driver is stopped by the police for suspected DUI, maybe they were weaving or driving erratically, the officer will conduct an investigation which will include speaking with the driver. The officer will likely ask for their driver’s license, ask where they’ve been and if they had anything to drink, while observing their demeanor, observing their eyes whether they observed glassy or bloodshot eyes, their manner of speech, and finding out how much they have had to drink.
Field Sobriety Tests and PBTs
If there are some reasons to suspect that they’ve had too much to drink then the officers will ask the person to exit the vehicle and to engage in field sobriety tests. They also may ask them to submit to a preliminary breath test which is a test in which they blow into a portable Breathalyzer machine in order to establish probable cause to make an arrest for DUI. If the driver submits to it, they will get a reading, and the officer will take a look at that reading to decide if they should arrest this person or not.
Generally, if an officer has already had enough reason to take the driver out of the vehicle and to engage them in field sobriety tests, then they probably have enough to arrest somebody at that point. So really whether or not the person is going to take that PBT or not, they’re going to get arrested.
DUI Arrests and the Magistrate
Next, they arrest the person, put them in handcuffs, put them in the cruiser, and transport them down to the magistrate’s office. They will call a tow truck to tow the person’s car. The person will be presented before a magistrate and the magistrate will issue a DUI warrant. If there are other charges, then those would be issued as well. The magistrate will determine if there are any prior DUIs because that could affect the charging decision. Then the magistrate will decide whether a bond is appropriate. The person will then get a date to appear in court. If it’s a misdemeanor offense, they will appear in the General District Court which will be their arraignment. They will appear at their arraignment if they haven’t hired an attorney and then they’ll get a trial date in the General District Court. That is generally how a case starts.
When Should An Individual Contact An Attorney for a DUI Case?
I would say immediately because the quicker someone can consult with an attorney, the quicker the attorney can start working on a defense. It doesn’t hurt to get some preliminary advice and consultations from different attorneys. Then when you finally settle on one that you’re comfortable with you’re ready to go and the attorney can start fighting the case for you. So, the sooner the better.