Any time an officer responds to a scene for the purposes of investigating an accident and they become suspicious that a DUI or alcohol might be involved, the investigation about the evidence for DUI transitions to a DUI criminal investigation.
If you are involved in a car accident in which the presence of alcohol has become an important factor, you may wish to consult with a DUI lawyer. Even investigations into civil car accident claims can lead to criminal charges in Fredericksburg, and it is important to be aware of your full legal rights.
The tests that Fredericksburg or Virginia officers conduct to detect the presence of alcohol in individuals injured in an accident are the nationally standardized methods for conducting DUIs. For the most part, officers use the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) standards.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is a nationwide scientific body that conducts a series of tests in laboratory environments to determine whether or not they can use indicators to detect the presence of alcohol in somebody’s blood without taking their BAC or without taking a blood test. These tests what officers are trained to use during roadside traffic stops.
There are three main tests: the walk-and-turn, the one-leg stand, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. These are the only three NHTSA approved standardized tests that are in use for the purposes of DUI cases in the State of Virginia. Other tests that a person might see are the ABCs, counting backward, the finger-nose test, or finger-thumb dexterity test. None of those tests are standardized. Certain counties still use them to try to determine whether or not indicators are present for DUI purposes.
An experienced attorney could help determine whether a specific test that a police officer conducted complies with NHTSA standards and whether it should be barred from evidence during the course of a trial.
A person’s statements made during a crash investigation are never going to be constitutionally protected while they are on the scene of a crash. Statements are only protected under someone’s “Miranda rights” if 1), a person is under arrest and 2) if a person is being interrogated. If one of those things is not present a person does not have to be given a Miranda warning before they take a statement.
In most cases, a driver will be asked questions at the scene before they are placed under arrest. Only once a person has been placed under arrest will they be read their Miranda rights.
In the event of both a civil and criminal investigation into a certain accident, a defendant may consider not making statements to their insurance or anybody else about what happened. A defendant should view an investigation as a cautionary warning against potential testimony that they might give in their defense for their criminal case because whatever they say in a criminal case could be used against them for their civil case.
An experienced DUI attorney could use the criminal case as the groundwork for defense in a civil case, as well as use the same cross-examination questions to try to get information out of the prosecution’s witnesses that would be potentially helpful in the civil case. A Fredericksburg lawyer should be thinking of both civil and criminal issues if they think there is a reason that the defendant might be sued or in the process of a civil lawsuit at the time of the incident.