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Getting stopped for a DUI is all too common on holiday weekends. This upcoming 4th of July weekend, you should expect to see a large police presence as DUI/DWI laws are strictly enforced. As COVID-19 restrictions are lifting, the Virginia Beach area should see a large amount of motor and pedestrian traffic for the holiday weekend. Virginia Beach Police Officers and Virginia State Police will be strictly enforcing the DUI/DWI laws at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, Interstate 264, and all surrounding side streets in the Virginia Beach area. If you are going to drink, you should get a designated driver or pay for a ride sharing service. The small price of an Uber is nothing compared to the cost of defending a DUI charge in Virginia Beach.
It doesn’t take much for a police officer to have enough evidence to stop your vehicle to perform a DUI investigation. If you drive too fast (or even too slow!), if you touch a solid yellow or white line, if you weave in your lane, or don’t fully stop at a stop sign, an officer has “reasonable suspicion” to stop your vehicle. Once your vehicle is stopped, the officer is allowed to perform routine investigations if the officer believes you show “clues” that indicate impairment from drinking or drugs, or both. So, what do you do if you’ve been stopped for a DUI?
If you get stopped for a DUI investigation this July 4th weekend, there are certain things the law says you have to do, and certain things you do not have to do. However, as any Virginia DUI attorney will tell you – there is no straightforward answer to the best way to handle a DUI stop.
If the officer suspects you have been drinking and driving, you will be asked to step out of your vehicle to perform some “Field Sobriety Tests” or FST’s for short. You must exit the vehicle and follow other safety related commands from the officer, but you are not required to perform any Field Sobriety Tests, no matter what the officer tells you. Some officers do not make it seem like you have a choice, but you have the ultimate right to decline any and all FST’s. These tests include the Walk and Turn Test (WAT), the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (HGN), and the One Leg Stand Test (OLS). An officer may also ask you to perform the ABC test, or touching your finger to your nose – but these are not approved tests!
The officer will ask you if you have been drinking. You do NOT have to answer any of the officer’s questions! Many people believe if they are cooperative and honest with officers, the officers will let them go with a warning. But, if an officer determines that you have been drinking and driving, you are most certainly going to be arrested and charged with a DUI. Being polite and cooperative is helpful, but volunteering all the evidence the officer will use against you in court is not helpful!
One of the main tools that police officers use to prosecute a DUI charge is called the Preliminary Breath Test (PBT). It is very important to know that there are two types of breath tests. One is the PBT, and is administered on the side of the road during the officer’s DUI investigation. You do not have to take this test. Savvy officers will tell you “if you just take this PBT and it comes back clean, I will let you leave.” This is a trap! The results of the PBT can help you if you have not been drinking at all, but they will be the nail in the coffin of your DUI case if you have been drinking.
The second type of breath test is the test you take at the station after you have been arrested. If you are suspected of drinking and driving in Virginia, you are required by law to take this test. If you refuse to take this test, and the refusal is not considered legally reasonable (i.e., due to a proven medical condition, you are physically unable to blow hard enough for the machine to register), you will be charged with a Refusal. A refusal charge can result in an additional loss of your driver’s license on top of the license suspension from your DUI charge.
The best advice we can give is don’t drink and drive! But if you do, and you are charged with a DUI in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, or Chesapeake, we can help! We offer free initial phone consultations for all DUI charges. We can help you navigate this very complicated area of the law, and determine your best options moving forward.