After a DUI arrest in Virginia, there are a number of things that happen within the criminal system and a few things to do to protect yourself. Below is a brief overview of what these "things" are so you are well-informed and aware of what to expect.
Trusted criminal defense attorney S.L. England wants to make sure you get the kind of defense you deserve in the D.C./Virginia metropolitan area. Contact his law office if you have been arrested for a DUI in D.C. or Virginia.
What to Expect After a DWI/DUI Arrest in Virginia
A DUI arrest involves a separate administrative process and criminal procedure. The administrative process deals with the automatic suspension of your driver's license, which you can (and should) appeal by requesting a hearing. Apart from the administrative process, there are certain criminal procedures and court appearances you should expect directly or soon after an arrest for a standard DUI. Here is a summary of what the latter entails.
Upon your arrest, your vehicle will be inventoried and then towed. Information regarding the whereabouts of your vehicle will be provided to you. You will have to pay a fee before you are able to retrieve your vehicle from the towing agency.
Directly after you are taken into custody under the suspicion of driving under the influence, you will be booked. Booking involves the taking of your personal information, like:
- birth date
- physical features.
When you are brought to the jail, an observation period begins with a breath test. If you refuse the breath test, the police may request a warrant for a blood test. The blood test is more invasive and produces more accurate and reliable results.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may spend the night in jail or you may be released on your own recognizance.
An arraignment in Virginia is more appropriately known as a first appearance. The arraignment is necessary so that the court can advise you formally of your rights and the charges made against you. During the arraignment, you plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
An arraignment can be held the very next day or it can be held 7 - 10 days after an arrest if you posted bail or were released on your own recognizance, the latter means you promise to appear for all future court appearances – when required – and to not engage in criminal activity during the duration of your case.
Paperwork from the arresting officer must first be sent to the court to create a case number.
If you fail to appear in Virginia for your arraignment, you will forfeit your bond and a bench warrant may be issued for your arrest. Failure to appear is a crime and is a separate offense. You can be convicted of this offense and, regardless of whether or not you are convicted of the DUI, you will face penalties like steep fines and jail time.
You may be released on your own recognizance. If you are not released on your own recognizance, a bond hearing may be set (or you may have to request one). The court will then decide on the facts and circumstances what amount is sufficient for your release. Fortunately, most alleged DUI offenders, especially first-timers, are not a flight risk or a safety risk to the public.
If bond is set, you should know there are two types of bonds:
- secured bond, which is a bond paid in the form of cash or property; or
- unsecured bond, which is a bond where you promise to pay a certain amount of money if you fail to meet the bond conditions.
What to Do After a DWI/DUI Arrest in Virginia
What you do after a DUI arrest can make all the difference in your Virginia criminal case. There are three basic things you want to do after your DUI arrest.
1. Record everything from the arrest.
You want to make sure you write everything down that you can remember. This includes:
- where the traffic stop occurred (if it was a traffic stop that led to the DUI investigation)
- the reason for the traffic stop
- the time of the traffic stop
- what happened during the DUI investigation (field sobriety tests, etc.)
- whether or not you were you read the Miranda warnings
- any conversations you had with the police or anything that struck you as odd, intimidating, abusive, etc.
- anything that seemed out of the ordinary.
No detail is insignificant but can be the piece that finishes the puzzle.
2. Hire an experienced DUI attorney.
At your arraignment, you should plead not guilty and then hire an experienced Virginia DUI defense attorney. If at all possible, hire the attorney before the arraignment – but most times this is impractical, e.g., you may want to research DUI attorneys to hire the right one. A conviction of a DUI – though not the end of the world even if it feels like it – can lead to serious consequences, the least of which are the fines and jail time following a DUI conviction.
A DUI on your criminal record can cause problems with things like jobs, careers, loans, housing, child custody, professional licenses, etc. It's important to fight the charge with the aim for dismissal before trial or an acquittal after trial. Only an experienced DUI attorney can help make sure your defense strategy aims for the best outcome available to you.
3. Keep in mind that you are not alone.
Many law-abiding citizens make the mistake of having a drink too many and then getting behind the wheel. In fact, many law-abiding citizens are arrested for DUI even when they did not commit it, and that's because much of what goes into supporting probable cause for an arrest is based on subjective observation and faulty and unreliable preliminary breathalyzers.
Remember: you are not alone, and a good attorney will make sure you don't feel like you are.
Contact an Experienced DUI Defense Attorney Serving the D.C. / Virginia Metro Area
If you have been charged with a DUI in Virginia, contact S.L. England today. He is a trusted and resourceful DUI attorney in the Virginia and DC metro area who will develop a defense strategy designed to return the best outcome per your unique circumstances.