Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney
Vienna officers look for a multitude of indicators before they pull somebody over for a DUI. They look for driving behavior that is generally associated with driving under the influence, such as swerving, braking, driving too slowly, and driving through red lights and stop signs. Law enforcement in Vienna will also be looking for minor traffic infractions. Any excuse to pull you over enables them to see if you have any of the indicators for DUI. For example, if you are driving late at night and not showing any of the major indicators of a DUI, such as swerving, but you have a brake light out, they might pull you over because they want to see why you are driving so late. It is within their right to do so, as it is for other types of traffic infractions that they are trying to investigate drivers for.
If you have been charged after a DUI stop in Vienna, a Vienna DUI lawyer will be able to go through the events that occurred during the stop to ensure that the police respected your rights and begin preparing your defense.
The typical DUI stop process in Vienna starts with the officer alerting the driver, which means they are going to put their lights on, and sometimes, they may put their sirens on. Upon pulling the driver over, the officer will park behind the stopped vehicle and leave their lights on as they approach the stopped car. Depending on where the driver has been pulled over, the officer will approach either the driver or passenger side window and ask for license and registration before inquiring as to whether the driver has been drinking, and the answer may provoke them to ask that the driver step out of the car. If the officer smells alcohol, they will also ask the driver to step out of the car.
Once the driver is out of the car, the police officers will ask them to perform a series of field sobriety tests. These are standardized tests that are issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The three most commonly used tests are the walk-and-turn, the one-leg stand, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus, which is where they track the driver’s pupils back and forth.
Upon completion of these tests, the officers may ask the driver to blow into a breathalyzer. They take the information gathered from the tests, breathalyzer, and their observations to make a decision as to whether or not there is probable cause to arrest the driver for DUI and take them to the police station.
An individual maintains rights at a DUI stop, which include, but are not limited to:
Miranda rights do not need to be read until an individual is under arrest. When doing the field sobriety tests (FST) or the preliminary breath test (PBT), an individual does not have to have their Miranda rights read to them because it is considered to be voluntarily done and an individual can rightfully, and should, refuse to do the FST and PBT. Miranda rights do not have to be read to a person until they are under arrest.
At the point where you a person is arrested for DUI and they are taken to the station, their Miranda rights apply, which include:
If there is probable cause for a DUI, the driver has to give a breathalyzer sample at the station. There is a law in Virginia that says if there is probable cause for the DUI arrest, an individual has to submit a breath sample at the station by virtue of driving on the roads of Virginia. However, beyond that people do not have to offer information.
The officer may want to search the vehicle; however, law enforcement does not have an independent right to search the vehicle on the sole basis of stopping a driver for DUI. They have to see some kind of evidence within the vehicle that leads them to believe that there is evidence to find, unless there is another sensory indicator of the presence of evidence. For example, the police officer either has to see marijuana, or be able to smell it. If there is contraband in the car, the police are able to search, but they do not have the independent right to search the vehicle just because its driver is being arrested for DUI.
If a driver is arrested for DUI, their car is impounded as a result of the arrest. When the police take the car in, they are allowed to conduct an inventory search at the impound lot, which is different than a search on the side of the road. An inventory search is done later, and includes a series of procedures that the police must go through in order to inventory the car, but they cannot search simply on the basis of a DUI arrest.
Drivers do not need to consent to a search of their vehicle during a traffic stop, and it is highly recommended that they do not consent to search of their vehicle.
The officers still need to be given consent from the driver to search their vehicle after a DUI arrest unless the vehicle is being impounded. If the vehicle is impounded, law enforcement is able to do a search whether or not they have the driver’s permission. This is called an inventory search and it is done at the impound lot, not on the side of the road.
Law enforcement officers typically decide whether to charge someone drug-related DUI based on either the statement that the person makes or observations that the officers make about the presence of contraband.
A drug related DUI is interesting because there are not any standardized measures yet decided by the court that will determine whether a certain level of drug use in a person’s system is sufficient for a DUI. That means any presence of a drug, when combined with the driving behavior, could lead someone to think that an individual is under the influence, could be enough for a DUI arrest for drug-related offenses.
This will vary by officer and case, but a drug related DUI is a complex area of law and there is no straight answer that has been established by the court as to when they are going to arrest you for a drug related DUI.