Three Key Pieces of Evidence in a Virginia DWI Case
If you’re pulled over for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) under Virginia law, police will attempt to get all the evidence they can to accomplish two goals:
- Arrest you; and,
- Help the prosecution convict you in court.
The bar is set pretty low for an arrest, but the burden of proof in your DWI criminal case is higher: A prosecutor must establish that you’re guilty beyond reasonable doubt. If the prosecution meets this standard, you could face serious penalties. Even a first-time offense could lead to 12 months in jail, a minimum fine of $250, and driver’s license suspension.
The evidence officers collect at the scene will be important, but sometimes it’s not enough for a conviction. With help from a Virginia DWI defense lawyer, you can point out weaknesses in the three main types of evidence in a DWI case.
- Police Report: Officers complete an incident report after any encounter with an individual, so there will be documentation regarding your arrest for drunk driving. In it, you can expect a narrative describing why you were pulled over, your demeanor when interacting with police, and many other details. While the police report may seem to be damning evidence against you, it’s important to remember that it’s a highly subjective account of the officers’ experience. An experienced attorney can attack the credibility of this evidence as being self-serving for police – and unfairly prejudicial against you.
- Field Sobriety Tests: There’s a good chance police will request that you take field sobriety tests when they pull you over. A failed performance could lead to an arrest, but FSTs have questionable value as evidence in court. There are numerous problems with these tests, and DWI defense lawyers know how to point them out. For instance, you could fail the One-Legged Stand test because of an injury. You may perform poorly on the Walk and Turn Test because rainy weather made the surface slippery.
- Chemical Tests: Under Virginia’s law on implied consent, you’re required to submit to a blood, breath, or urine test to determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) once you’ve been arrested. As the most scientific form of evidence, you’d probably assume that the results of a chemical test will seal your conviction.
However, even these tests are subject to attack by your defense lawyer. You’re providing a biological sample to police, so the rules regarding test conditions are extremely strict. The breathalyzer equipment must be meticulously maintained, and only a properly licensed official is allowed to operate it. Any violations of these rules can lead to inaccurate BAC results – providing you with a potential defense.
Schedule a Consultation with a Virginia DWI Defense Attorney Today
For more information on defense strategies in a drunk driving case, please contact Del Rio Law, PLLC. You can reach our Glen Allen, VA office by calling 804.286.0770 or visiting us online to set up a free consultation. Our team serves clients in Henrico County and throughout the Richmond area, and we can answer your questions about DWIs in Virginia.