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What to Expect From Prince William County DUI Charges

If you are expecting trial from DUI charges from Prince William County, you need the assistance of an attorney. DUI lawyers familiar with the state’s prosecution could help you bolster your chances of a favorable outcome in court. Not only this, but attorneys could work with you when you are at a vulnerable point in your life. Peace of mind is hard to come by, but having an attorney guide you through a trial could be invaluable. Reach out to an attorney today.

How DUI Charges Are Regarded in Prince William County

The reason that DUI charges are considered so seriously in Prince William County is because of the danger that they pose. There have been several instances that have become widespread and well-known stories of bad DUIs in which people were injured severely or killed. This has led to great pressure put on prosecutors and on police officers to err on the side of charging people more seriously for DUI cases.

The prosecutors and judges involved do not want a situation in which they have gone light on someone or have agreed to reduce the charge or to let someone out of jail early on a charge and then later see that person involved in an accident where someone is seriously injured or killed. They want to avoid that and err on the side of caution.

The worst-case scenarios have come to influence decisions that are made in every case and have made it difficult for people charged with a DUI to work their case out without proceeding to trial. Consequentially, what to expect from Prince William County DUI charges is nothing short of a serious trial.

DUI Cases and Courts

DUI cases in Prince William County almost always begin in the general district court. In a typical DUI case, someone is arrested and taken to the detention center for processing. They go through the fingerprinting process and discuss the possibility of having a bond set with a magistrate.

Someone who has not been charged with a DUI before is often granted a bond and is able to be released the same day or in a reasonable period of time, whereas some people who have a previous DUI charge are not able to have bond set right away and end up having to go in front of the judge in the district court to argue for a bond motion in front of the court.

Once a case is set for trial in Prince William County, the individual’s attorney would file notices for the evidence held by the Commonwealth–referred to as “discovery”. However, this evidence is sometimes limited and not always of the best quality for the defense team to use. Additionally, attorneys may also receive some information about the police report.

Even though discovery is extremely limited in Virginia, the police officers and prosecutors in Prince William County, for the most part, are willing to work with defense attorneys to make sure that they are able to view evidence as early on in the process as possible. In most cases with a DUI, an attorney would be able to view the videos, reports, and other forms of evidence for a case, subpoena information, or file a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request for information about the breath test or blood test that was involved in a case well before the first court day.

In general district court, attorneys often discuss the possibilities of reaching an agreement with the prosecutor, but most DUI cases proceed to try in general district court because the prosecutor’s office does not have an incentive to negotiate on those charges or to reduce them in any way.

Once the trial is finished, the accused person could decide whether they would want to appeal that decision or whether they are happy with the general district court’s decision.

Why Are DUI Charges so Intimidating?

One of the main things that makes DWI charges or DUI charges so intimidating in Virginia as a whole, and in Prince William County in particular, is the great amount of political pressure that is put on prosecutors and on judges alike to reach convictions and have charges dealt with seriously. In that same vein, the General Assembly in Virginia, the legislature, has consistently enhanced the penalties for DUI, and the courts have consistently made it easier for prosecutors to convict people of DUIs.

Over the last dozen years, some of the defenses that people had to DUIs such as that they were not actually driving the car or that they were not operating the vehicle at all have been taken away, and the courts have said if they are simply in the car and there is a key in the ignition, then they are guilty of operating the car whether it is turned or not.

At the same time, the penalties for DUIs have increased so that at this point in time anyone in Virginia who is convicted of a first DUI offense has to complete ASAP, the Alcohol Safety Action Program and pay associated fines and have their driver’s license suspended for a full year. Not only this, but now, anyone who wants to receive a restricted license just to go to and from work, to and from school, and other limited situations that are enumerated in the Virginia Code, may have to have ignition interlock installed on their car. Ignition interlock is not only costly and time-consuming but means every time accused individuals start their cars, they would have to blow into the ignition interlock and would have to do several other follow-up tests as the day goes on.

Any negative test that occurs with an ignition interlock forces the person to appear in court and to try to explain to the judge why one should not be put in jail for having the negative test from the ignition interlock.

To make matters more dire, there are also severe enhanced penalties for DUIs, and the minimum penalties are always increasing. Someone who has an elevated blood alcohol content faces a mandatory minimum jail term, and anyone who has a previous DUI and is convicted of a second or third offense faces a mandatory jail term. Someone could expect from Prince William County DUI charges life-altering consequences.

Speak to a Personal Defense Attorney Immediately

If you are wondering what to expect from Prince William County DUI charges, you need to speak with an experienced attorney. The county has zero incentive to be lenient on accused individuals, and the consequences of these charges often have life-altering impacts on everyday life. You need an attorney who could help you take proactive steps prior to court so that a judge could see that your charge was a simple mistake. Call today.

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