Below is information you should know regarding vehicle searches in Virginia. If your vehicle has been searched unlawfully consult with a Leesburg DUI lawyer today to discuss your case and how to proceed.
In order to successfully prosecute a Leesburg DUI case, a prosecutor must prove all the elements of the alleged offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Beyond a reasonable doubt means that it must disprove all reasonable theories of innocence in proving their theory of guilt. Virginia Code Section 18.2-266 points out a specific elements of the offense of driving under the influence and the Commonwealth works hard to prove all of these elements beyond reasonable doubt.
In a Leesburg DUI case, the most typical evidence is presented through the form of direct testimony and circumstantial evidence. Direct testimony is typically presented through the arresting officer. The arresting officer typically discusses what he or she observed at the time of the arrest. This may include driving behavior, observations and performance in field sobriety tests.
After this evidence is presented, there may be video evidence or photographic evidence.
Finally the Commonwealth will seek to introduce a certificate of analysis, if one exists. This means breath or blood evidence, this may require other witnesses and potentially even expert witnesses to lay a proper foundation for its introduction.
If you’re stopped and the officer asks for permission to search your vehicle you do not need to consent. In fact, it is your right not to consent pursuant to the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution as recognized in the Virginia State Constitution. The Fourth Amendment grants the right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures.
However, an officer is completely within his or her rights to ask for your consent to search. There is no reason why you would give an officer consent to search and nothing they can find that can be helpful to you, it can only be used against you.
Therefore, it is in your best interest to politely decline a request to search. If the officer believes there is probable cause to search your vehicle and exercises the probable cause exception, you may have the ability to challenge that later on. If you consent in the beginning you will lose your ability to challenge the reasonableness of your search.
After you are arrested for an offense, your ability to resist a search changes. In Virginia, this doctrine is known as a “search incident to arrest.” There is a significant amount of Virginia and federal case law regarding what may be searched within the scope of an arrest.
Typically, in Virginia this means that if you’re arrested for DUI, your vehicle is subject to search. Most often the officers will do an initial inventory search of your vehicle to make sure there’s no contraband. Your vehicle is then typically towed and impounded if there’s not a licensed driver to come and pick it up.
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