First time DUI charges in Alexandria are heard in the General District Court. That is a court not of record, meaning there is no transcript of the proceedings there. In that courtroom, there are only judge trials; there are no jury trials. When you’re first charged with a DUI, you’ll be directed to report to the general district court for arraignment. At an arraignment, a court date will be selected for your DUI trail.
In the meantime, you will either be appointed an attorney or you will hire your own. In between arraignment and the trial date, after you hire an attorney, they should be reviewing the state’s file and making any pretrial motions that are necessary. On the trial date, you should expect to do either of the following:
This will all be heard by a General District Court Judge. In rare cases, the Commonwealth may dismiss your charges due to a lack of evidence.
The general district court is the first place your case is heard. If you’re unhappy with the outcome you have an automatic right to appeal to circuit court, which is a court in the same courthouse in Alexandria, but on a different floor. It is also a court of record, meaning the proceedings will be recorded. Additionally, the court will hear the case “anew”, meaning whatever happened in General District Court will not be considered by the judge in Circuit Court. Also in Circuit Court, you are entitled to a jury trial of you want one, even for a traffic infraction.
There are numerous ways to try to attack a DUI charge. One of the first things that your attorney should do with you is to obtain all possible information surrounding your arrest.
Your attorney should get the information not only from the client, but also from the Commonwealth or the state. One of the first avenues of defending a DUI case for a 1st DUI attorney in Alexandria is to ensure that the traffic stop and subsequent arrest were done in accordance with the Constitution. If the stop of your vehicle was not based upon reasonable suspicion, or if your arrest was not supported by probable cause, your attorney can move to suppress the evidence against. If successful, critical evidence can be excluded from trial.
If however, the police conduct appears to be in line, then the next line of defense is to show that the officer’s assumptions regarding your level of intoxication were inaccurate or have been clouded by the passage of time. Or that the field sobriety tests were performed inaccurately or don’t necessarily lead to the conclusion that you were intoxicated.
There are also ways to attack the intoximeter (breath testing machine) that police used to measure your blood alcohol content. DUI laws in Virginia are very detailed and nuanced and there are many ways to build a successful defense even if it seems that the evidence against you is insurmountable.