Thanksgiving is a time for celebration, and marks the start of the holiday season that runs through New Year’s. But this season is also DUI season. Being arrested for DUI at any time is a nightmare, but it’s even worse during the holidays. Thanksgiving is a day notorious for DUI because of the celebrations, and because people frequently travel. But the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is even more notorious for DUIs. Police will be on the lookout throughout the week and weekend across the Commonwealth of Virginia. Below is some information you should know if you are arrested for DUI on Thanksgiving in Virginia.
A Thanksgiving DUI is a Class One Misdemeanor
DUI is a Class One misdemeanor. This means it carries a maximum possible sentence of up to one year, and a maximum possible fine of $2,500. However, depending on the facts of your case, mandatory minimum jail time may be involved – up to 20 days for a second offense, and more for a third or fourth offense.
Penalties for a Thanksgiving DUI
Virginia takes DUI seriously, even on Thanksgiving. A DUI will carry penalties beyond the general criminal sanctions like possible jail time and a fine. First, a DUI arrest will result in an administrative suspension of your license for 7 days for a first offense. Upon conviction of DUI, even a first offense, your license will be suspended for one year. Depending on the facts of your case, and your needs, you may be able to get either a restricted license in order to drive to e.g; work, church, school, and doctor’s appointments. Or, with an Ignition Interlock Device, you may be permitted to drive anywhere, so long as you provide a negative breath sample when you drive. You will also need to register for and complete Virginia’s Alcohol Safety Action Program (“ASAP”).
Field Sobriety Tests
One common issue in DUI cases revolves around Field Sobriety Tests. These consist of the roadside tests, such as the Walk and Turn, One Leg Stand, and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus – where the officer passes a pen in front of your eyes looking for involuntary movement. The tests are COMPLETELY VOLUNTARY. You are NEVER required to do them. The purpose of these tests is for the Officer to find probable cause to arrest you. If the Officer has probable cause, then he or she will arrest you whether you do the tests or not. If the Officer does not have probable cause, then performing the tests can only give them a reason to arrest you.
Another voluntary test is the Preliminary Breath Test. This is the “breathalyzer” test that is done on the side of the road with a handheld device. These devices are not particularly reliable, and the results cannot even be used in Court to prove your guilt. But the results can be use to justify your arrest. This test is never required in Virginia.
While the above tests are voluntary, there are mandatory tests that you may have to comply with. If you have been arrested for DUI, you are required to do the breath test at the police station through their “Intox EC/IR II” machine. This is required under Virginia’s implied consent law. If you are unable to complete a breath test, you may be offered a blood test. If you refuse these tests, you may be charged with Refusal as well as DUI. A first offense Refusal charge is a civil infraction, but also results in suspension of your license for one year. A subsequent refusal is a criminal charge.
Defending a DUI in Virginia
Our Client Focused Criminal Defense Team is experienced in criminal cases across Northern Virginia, including DUIs. Defending a DUI case can be technical, and there may be defense that your attorney can present to beat a DUI charge, or your attorney can work out a plea agreement to mitigate the consequences you may face. Contact Us to learn how we can help if you have been arrested for DUI this Thanksgiving.