In Alexandria, misdemeanor DUI cases, including the first and second offense DUIs, are tried in the general district court. Felony DUI cases begin in the General District Court with the preliminary hearing and the trial occurs in the Circuit Court. Misdemeanor DUI trials are typically bench trials and heard before a judge in the General District Court. For any DUI case tried in Circuit Court, the accused has a right to request a jury trial as does the prosecutor. Alexandria DUI cases could be as short as 30 minutes and as long as two hours. If an individual wants to know more about how to prepare for their own case, they should consult an intelligent DUI lawyer that could answer their questions.
Alexandria prosecutors prosecute these DUI cases aggressively because they are considered a serious threat to public safety. Even though no accident or injury has occurred, the law enforcement and prosecutors treat them seriously.
In Alexandria DUI cases, a prosecutor needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is operating a vehicle as defined in Virginia law and that they were under the influence of alcohol or some other drugs as defined by Virginia law. Evidence typically presented in DUI cases includes the observations of the law enforcement officer that led to initiating a traffic stop and the observations by the officer during the investigation for possible DUI arrest. Additional evidence includes usually forensic analysis, either through a breath test or blood test of the accused and occasionally testimony of other witnesses.
Some of the trends in DUI cases relevant are that there has been an increase in DUI cases for individuals with drugs in their system, including prescription drugs, and that they are driving against the warnings that come with prescriptions. In some instances, a person may be driving within the legal limit for alcohol, but in combination with their prescriptions drugs against warnings that come from the prescriptions.
The trends that are locally prevalent in Alexandria tend to follow the trends nationwide. They are that certain substances are increasing and prescription drug use is increasing, as well. Often times, especially for those who use prescription drugs do not feel that they are using illegally obtained prescriptions and might feel comfortable driving while not expecting adverse side effects.
Sentencing for most Alexandria DUI cases is typically handled by following standard guidelines related to whether it is an individual’s first offense, whether there is an elevated blood alcohol content, et cetera. There could be aggravating factors in certain cases and there could be mitigating factors, as well. The sentencing is determined after an individual has been found guilty of the DUI. Sentencing is always a case-specific scenario.
Factors that are considered by the court or by the jury include the blood alcohol content of the driver, other substances that might have been in the driver’s system at the time of arrest, observations by the law enforcement officer of the driver during the field sobriety tests, and observations of the driver’s ability to operate the motor vehicle if that evidence is available. In addition to the driver’s demeanor at the time of the arrest, their criminal record and driving history are factors considered.
The top things everyone should know about Alexandria DUI cases are that they are extremely serious charges that carry serious consequences, including the loss of one’s ability to drive for an extended period of time, the expense of an alcohol safety program, and the expense and inconvenience of having the ignition interlock installed on the person’s vehicle.
There are court costs as well as DMV expenses, and people should be aware of those consequences. People should also be aware of their right to refuse testing if they are suspected of a DUI. They should be aware of the immediate consequences of jail time and the administrative suspension of their license for the first seven days following an arrest. If an individual wants to know more about their rights during a DUI case, they should speak with an intelligent attorney that could answer their questions while protecting their rights.