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Fairfax & Northern Virginia

Fairfax DWI Lawyer | Virginia DUI Attorney

Defending in Fairfax, Arlington, Prince William, Loudoun, Alexandria & beyond

Fairfax, Northern Virginia DWI/DUI lawyer Jon Katz recognizes the real jail, employment, security clearance, lifestyle and reputational risks posed by DWI charges, and defends these and all other criminal cases to the hilt. DWI accounts for approximately 40% of Jon’s law practice.

In 2000, federal highway legislation shoved mandatory criminalization of a 0.08 blood alcohol level down the states’ throats under the penalty of otherwise losing federal highway funding.

A 0.08 blood alcohol level is so easy to reach that anybody who drives after consuming alcohol is a potential victim of the draconian drunk driving laws.

Do not take a DWI/DUI stop, arrest, or prosecution lying down. Too much is at stake if convicted of DWI, including potential jail, loss of driving privileges, and increased car insurance costs. DWI convictions harm people’s reputations; can set back non-U.S. citizens, to say the least; and can threaten security clearances, employment with the military, and health care licenses.

The best defense against DWI charges starts with not getting behind the wheel less than 24 hours after consuming alcohol. Short of that, if you feel any effects of alcohol, stay away from the wheel; unfortunately, plenty of people with a 0.08 or higher blood alcohol content do not feel the effects of alcohol to know to stay away from the wheel. Also, it is important not to drive with defective equipment nor to violate any moving violation laws; to do otherwise gives police a free pass to stop and investigate even otherwise innocent drivers and passengers for a whole host of crimes going even beyond DWI.

If you are stopped, remember the importance of maintaining your right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment, and to refuse field sobriety tests and the handheld/roadside preliminary breath test. Even though Virginia caselaw allows judges and juries to know when a defendant has refused field sobriety tests, even plenty of stone sober people can perform poorly on such tests both because few people practice standing on one leg with the foot in front of the body for thirty seconds, walking heel-to-toe out and back, counting backwards in the presence of a police officer, reciting but a portion of the alphabet, just to mention some common field sobriety tests.

Beware blowing into the officer’s handheld/roadside preliminary breath test machine. Those machines are all the more inaccurate than the breath test machines offered at the jail or police station after one is arrested.

A tough question is whether to agree to submit to a post-arrest breath test at the jail or police station, or to a blood test when asked to submit to such a test. In Virginia, refusing a post-arrest breath or blood test can be charged as a separate offense and mandatory loss of driving privileges if so convicted. However, submitting to such testing only makes the prosecutor’s job easier for obtaining a conviction if one has been consuming alcohol or if one has drugs in his or her system.

Upon being hired to defend a person charged with DWI or drugged driving, Jon immediately goes to work to obtain the forensic evidence in the case, to obtain information about performance and accuracy issues about the equipment and machinery used for the testing, and to oppose the introduction of alcohol and drug testing evidence in the first place.

Repeatedly over the years, Jon has worked with forensic toxicology experts to challenge the accuracy of breath and blood alcohol testing, making Jon all the more familiar with the science of such testing even when a client does not hire such an expert, whether because of the client’s budget or instances where an expert is not likely to add value to the defense.

A key point to remember is that all DWI and other criminal defendants are presumed innocent under the law unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that breath and blood testing results are not sacrosanct, and can be attacked. This means that the question in such cases does not begin and end with asking the result of a breath or blood test, but to challenge the results of such testing, and to acknowledge (usually needing the testimony of an appropriate expert witness) that blood alcohol levels can be rising, falling, or staying somewhat in a holding pattern between the time a police officer stops a driver and has the driver submit to breath or blood testing for alcohol.

For charges of drugged driving, it is important to know that mere presence of drugs in one’s blood does not automatically mean that said drugs impaired one’s driving. For instance, marijuana from smoking today can stay in one’s bloodstream for weeks. Additionally, a credible forensic toxicologist testifying for the prosecution will acknowledge when a defendant’s blood does not show worse than therapeutic and safe levels of prescription drugs.

When a DWI/drugged driving defendant is accused of mixing alcohol and drugs to result in an allegedly even more dangerous combination, it is important to be ready to show the extent to which the evidence is lacking about whether the medicine was taken so long before any alcohol intake as to be irrelevant, and the extent to which the particular medicine and/or its dosage and ingestion time would not have caused a dangerous drug-alcohol interaction.

In 1933, alcohol prohibition was repealed in the United States, only to be replaced with the draconian prohibition of the DWI and drugged driving laws. A full court press is essential for this and all criminal defense.

RELEVANT LINKS

– Virginia’s main DWI statute and statute for repeat convictions and elevated alcohol levels

Virginia’s ignition interlock law, including the roadmap for applying to drive work vehicles without the interlock

Virginia’s restricted license law

 

RELEVANT UNDERDOG BLOG ENTRIES: 

– Court Of Appeals Permits Warrantless Blood Draws By Silence

-The intersection of Birchfield, Wolfe, D’Amico & § 18.2-268.3

– A Virginia refusal conviction is not available for DWI activity on a non-highway

Mere weaving is not enough for police to stop a car

– Challenging horizontal gaze nystagumus testimony

Attacking claim of substantially similar criminal convictions

– The Illusion Of Needing To Hire A Former Prosecutor For Criminal Defense – Part I

Part II- Pausing Before Hiring A Former Prosecutor/Former Member Of The Opposing Army