Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney
Some people make decisions that end up incriminating themselves because they don’t know certain myths related to DUI stops and arrests. A Fairfax DUI lawyer understands that there are always uncertainties in DUI cases, especially when it comes to the evaluation of impairment through devices like breathalyzers or portable breath tests.
If someone had nothing to drink at all, it’s probably in their best interest to blow into the machine. With that being said, a person does not know how the alcohol is going to affect them, or how it enters their blood stream. They do not want a false reading on the preliminary breath test that allows the police officer to arrest them because of some alcohol in their system. The code in Virginia states if there is any alcohol present on the preliminary breath test, the person can then be arrested. If a person has any alcohol in their system at all, even if they think they are below 0.08, they should hesitate before blowing into the machine. An attorney would advise against blowing into the machine.
With breathalyzers, it depends on the machine. The one back at the station can be a pretty reliable indicator of intoxication. Obviously, there are flaws like any other machine or device. But typically, breathalyzers are pretty reliable. More importantly, judges think they’re reliable and prosecutors think they’re reliable. Some judges rely on the results and that is all that really matters in court, so there is truth to that statement. That being said, a person should not take them as true about the blood alcohol content. There are ways to help fight these results and to show that they were inaccurate. But for the most part, they are reliable devices.
There are studies that demonstrate that at certain levels of intoxication, and particularly at above a 0.08, a person has a certain deficiency that will impair their ability to drive. At 0.08, the studies show that there is slower and worse motor coordination, slower response time, inability to concentrate, and things of that nature. That being said, different people handle alcohol differently. Someone might be at 0.10 and is able to handle the alcohol and not show the same effects as someone at 0.08 who drinks less frequently and therefore shows a lot more signs of intoxication.
BAC is reliable and is something to consider. It’s not infallible because some people are better or worse than others at a certain level. But it is an indicator of impairment. However, in Fairfax, if someone is at 0.10 and show no signs of impairment, they can be convicted for DUI. Even if the BAC is not an adequate or a reliable indicator of intoxication, it doesn’t really matter because in Fairfax, someone can be convicted of DUI at 0.10 or 0.08 or 0.17, even if they are completely fine otherwise.
Officers only need probable cause to believe a person is under the influence of alcohol or that they are above a 0.08 if they blow into a breathalyzer. They use a preliminary breath test. If there is any alcohol in the preliminary breath test, the Virginia code allows them to arrest that person. Any indicator the police have that someone is under the influence but not necessarily falling down drunk can possibly be enough to arrest that person. Arresting is a lower standard than conviction at trial. The officers just need probable cause, enough proof beyond a reasonable doubt, anything that suggests someone is under the influence of alcohol or impaired is enough for an arrest.
It depends on the officer, their training, and how the person is behaving. Officers are trained to look for people who are under the influence of alcohol of any kind. They are looking for indicators that someone may not even be aware of. A person might feel fine but that might be because of the alcohol. Officers look at a person’s eyes that may show involuntary jerking of the eyes. A person could be slurring their speech and not know it. Their coordination may be worse than they think. Their attitude may be looser than if they had not been drinking. Police are trained in these observations. They’ve gone to school for them. They make arrests every day. They know what they’re looking for and can determine that based upon a person’s actions, even if the person thinks they are doing well.
In Fairfax, a person can be arrested on private property. If they were on a public road and drive into a garage or their driveway, they can be arrested. If the person is in their driveway or garage and their car is running and they are intoxicated, they can be arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol even if they haven’t moved the vehicle. Fairfax County has very broad rules regarding operation of a vehicle. A person can be convicted of a DUI while operating on private property. That is not necessarily a way to beat a DUI charge.