Our Attorney Experience – Knowing the Law
Our criminal defense lawyers have tried dozens of DUI cases to verdict and we strive to be on the cutting edge of the law. Firm lawyers have taught DUI defense to other lawyers and we have developed our own DUI and traffic defense outline, which has served as the basis for written materials provided at DUI and traffic defense courses sponsored by the Alexandria Bar Association.
We defend DUIs in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. courts and have significant federal DUI experience in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
In assessing and advising clients facing DUI charges, we believe that it is important to provide an honest assessment of the case. While we have obtained many favorable outcomes in DUI cases, including not guilty verdicts, dismissals due to suppressing evidence, as well as negotiated lesser offenses such as reckless driving, there are cases where there are few, if any, defenses with merit and defendants should know where they stand.
In preparing a defense, we consider factual, technical and constitutional issues. And while there is no limit to factual scenarios or defenses related to a DUI allegation, it is important to analyze a checklist of common issues in preparing a defense, including:
- whether the stop was supported by reasonable suspicion, or in the case of a traffic infraction, probable cause?
- if a roadblock or DUI checkpoint, did the police have a constitutional plan to ensure that the roadblock was neutrally and fairly administered? If so, were the police adhering to the plan?
- if an accident case, can it be established that the defendant was driving, arrested within three hours of the offense (where Virginia Code 182-268.2 is applicable), and/or did not consume alcohol or drugs after the accident?
- after a stop, did the defendant validly consent to field sobriety tests and were the field sobriety tests properly administered?
- did the defendant validly consent to a preliminary breath test at the site of the arrest, and if so, was it reliable and otherwise admissible in a pretrial hearing to establish probable cause for arrest?
- whether probable cause exists based on all the facts and circumstances to justify a defendant’s DUI arrest?
- if a defendant is validly arrested for DUI, and submits to a breath or blood test, did the breath test technician or nurse (in blood cases) follow the proper methods and procedures to ensure the test’s validity?
- was a blood alcohol result (breath or blood) obtained in accordance with the strictures of the Fourth Amendment?
- particularly with breath tests, whether the defendant has any medical or other individual circumstances that could render the test less reliable or result in an artificially high reading?
- are there any other constitutional or procedural challenges that can be mounted against field sobriety tests and/or blood alcohol tests?
- if a second or felony DUI offense, what challenges can be made to the alleged prior offenses?
The above-list is not all inclusive as there are limitless factual scenarios that might apply to any particular case.
Other Constitutional Challenges
Constitutional questions are present in essentially every DUI case. In this regard, we have challenged the constitutionality of officers mandating field sobriety tests, whether defendants due process rights are violated when officers, to obtain a blood or breath sample, provide misinformation about the consequences of refusing a blood alcohol test, and similarly whether defendants’ Fourth Amendment rights are violated when officers’ pressure a defendant to provide a blood. Additionally, and especially in light of the 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision Missouri v. McNeely, which decision suppressed the results of a blood sample forcefully taken from a defendant, the firm has briefed and litigated constitutional challenges to Virginia’s implied consent statutory scheme.
Birchfield v. North Dakota
The latest U.S. Supreme Court decision affecting DUI cases, Birchfield v. North Dakota (2016), has changed the Constitutional landscape with regard to challenging breath tests. In Birchfield, a breath test was found to be a search incident to arrest, an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against warrantless searches. This decision has refocused our efforts in challenging breath tests obtained as a result of a DUI arrest to determine whether proper procedures were followed and DUI suspects’ due process rights were honored when submitting to a breath test.
Motions to Dismiss, Suppress and Limit Evidence
We have developed a significant bank of motions to draw on in defending DUI cases. We develop new motions to dismiss and suppress or limit evidence based on the circumstances of particular cases rather than file boiler plate motions.
Presenting Expert Testimony
Though constitutional issues often arise and can be definitive defenses in DUI matters, we also consult with toxicologists and other experts as needed in preparing an aggressive defense. We have presented expert toxicological testimony in numerous drunk driving cases. In preparing to litigate any DUI case involving expert testimony, it is our practice to both understand the science at issue and review scientific literature or journal articles that support it.
Feel free to contact us at email@example.com or (703) 683-7070 if you would like to confidentially consult on a DUI matter.