If you’ve been charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Virginia, you need to hire a skilled lawyer as soon as possible. You may think a conviction is inevitable because you failed a breathalyzer test. Or, on the flip side, you think you can represent yourself successfully. Often, neither is true. James E. Short is an experienced DUI defense attorney who will fight to protect your legal rights.
How a Skilled DUI Defense Lawyer Can Help You
An experienced Virginia criminal defense lawyer is invaluable to your DUI case. They can help in several crucial ways.
Knowledge of Virginia DUI Laws
The reality is that Virginia DUI laws are incredibly complex. It is unreasonable that an average citizen would fully understand them. However, an experienced lawyer like James Short will have in-depth knowledge of local laws and how they may apply to your case.
For example, blood alcohol tests are a common practice in Virginia. If the test results show a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or above, you are presumed intoxicated. In some cases, you may be found guilty of drunk driving even if your test shows a BAC of under 0.08%. However, you can challenge the validity of the test results with the help of an experienced DUI defense lawyer.
A Strong Defense Strategy
Your DUI lawyer will take the time to understand your Virginia DUI charges. With this information, they can identify possible weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case. For example, the arresting officer may have lacked probable cause to arrest you in the first place. Or, they may have administered the field sobriety test incorrectly. James Short will develop a strong defense strategy to fight your DUI charges. This may take a multi-faceted approach, introducing several points of doubt in the prosecution’s case.
Critical Evidence and Expert Testimony
It is essential to present evidence in support of your innocence if you want to beat a DUI charge. You may introduce a reasonable doubt in your alleged guilt. By working with a skilled DUI defense attorney, you gain access to more evidence than you may be able to gather yourself. This may include getting video evidence from the scene or details about the breathalyzer test.
Furthermore, your Virginia lawyer is well-connected in the local legal community. They can tap into a network of experts. This means they may be able to retain specific experts for your trial. The experts can provide testimony to support your claim, like challenging the results of field sobriety tests.
Proven Negotiation Skills
Most DUI cases are not cut and dry. They are open to interpretation, which is where proven negotiation skills can work in your favor. In one specific case, we were able to reduce a DUI charge to reckless driving for a client. He was able to avoid additional mandatory jail time and other lifelong consequences, like losing his job. Through skilled analysis of the case and effective negotiation, the Commonwealth further reduced other charges he was facing. The Commonwealth dropped the refusal charge and gave him a suspended sentence on a hit-and-run charge. He may not have received such a favorable outcome without skilled legal representation.
Legal Representation in Court
Should your DUI case reach the courtroom, your defense attorney is also a vital asset on your side. Your lawyer can present witnesses and evidence, challenge the Commonwealth’s case, and protect your legal rights. Should it come to it, they can also guide you through the DUI appeals process.
Risks of Proceeding Without a DUI Attorney
You may be tempted to represent yourself in your DUI case, but this is not a prudent decision. There are many risks in choosing to proceed alone without legal representation.
Ill-Prepared to Defend Yourself
When your case goes to court, you will be going up against professional lawyers acting on behalf of the Commonwealth. This is rarely a fair fight, as they will aggressively prosecute DUI cases with all their knowledge and experience.
Lack of Evidence
DUI lawyers know about the process needed to acquire evidence. For example, they may be able to get dashcam footage from the officer’s vehicle. Non-lawyers likely do not know how to get this kind of evidence that may be able to support their defense.
Lack of Legal Knowledge
The average layperson will not have the same legal knowledge as a professional attorney. They may not know if a police officer violated their rights at a police stop, for instance. They may miss opportunities to challenge evidence, like field sobriety tests, that could otherwise help them win a case. A skilled lawyer won’t let these chances slip through the cracks.
Without extensive knowledge of the law, years of experience in the courtroom, and the ability to identify opportunities for more favorable outcomes, people representing themselves in DUI cases often face harsher penalties. A DUI conviction can have life-altering consequences that affect employment, education, insurance, and more. A lawyer can help to reduce or even avoid that fate.