Decades Of Successful Representation

Northern Virginia Attorneys Helping You Fight DUI Charges

A DUI charge can have substantial consequences. However, there are plenty of ways you can fight one, even when breath or blood tests show you are over the legal limit.

The lawyers at Robinson Law, PLLC, have been helping people in northern Virginia fight DUI charges for years. We bring our experience and knowledge to each case we handle and use it to help you strategically and effectively challenge the validity of your charges. We can also assist in negotiations to reduce your charges in exchange for community service or treatment programs. In some cases, we may be able to get your charges dropped or reduce your fines and jail time.

How Accurate Are Breath And Field Sobriety Tests?

Studies vary on the accuracy of breath tests. And the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says field sobriety tests are more than 70% effective. However, sometimes these evaluations can be flawed. Here’s how:

Breath Test Technology Can Be Unreliable

In many cases, a breathalyzer test may show someone is over the legal limit, even when they aren’t. Here are a few reasons why that can happen:

  • A breathalyzer picks up other items in your system, like certain foods and medications – even mouthwash can throw off its accuracy.
  • An officer conducting the breath test did not calibrate the breathalyzer properly.
  • The breathalyzer the officer uses needs to be fixed or updated.
  • You have a medical condition like asthma, liver/kidney disease, diabetes or a respiratory illness, which can throw off breathalyzer readings.

While breath tests can seem accurate, it’s important to treat the results of these tests with healthy skepticism.

Police Officers Can Make Errors On Field Sobriety Tests

Police officers are human: They can be biased and prone to mistakes. Unfortunately, these mistakes can have lasting consequences for those facing DUI charges, as their evaluations during field sobriety tests can be inaccurate. Here’s how it can happen:

  • HGN (the eye test): This is when police shine a light in your eye and hold a pen in front of you while asking you to follow the movement of the pen with your eyes. They use this test to see if your eyes dart around, which they claim can be an indication of substance use. However, officers don’t always move the pen at the speed they should and can be jerky in their movements, causing even sober drivers to fail the test.
  • The walking test: This is when officers ask you to walk in a straight line to see if you can balance yourself. However, not everyone is physically capable of walking in a perfectly straight line. Physical ailments, nervousness or even cognitive disabilities can make this task extremely difficult and cause even sober drivers to fail.
  • The balancing test: This is typically when officers ask you to stand on one leg, touch your finger to your nose or tilt your head back and forth. They may do this to determine your sobriety by your ability to respond to their requests. Like the walking test, the balancing test can be challenging, even if you are sober. It can be especially challenging for those with physical or mental impairments or those who feel anxious about engaging with police.

Field sobriety tests can sometimes be unfair and inaccurate assessments of your sobriety level, and many police departments have not updated their protocol for them. We can help you challenge the validity of these tests during your case.

Was The DUI Traffic Stop Legal?

It is very important to note that, in most cases, the police need to have reasonable suspicion to pull a driver over. For DUI purposes, this means that the officer would not yet know that the person was impaired, but would need an initial reason for the traffic stop. This prevents officers from randomly stopping vehicles and giving out breath tests just to see if they can find someone who is under the influence.

In the past, officers would often cite minor, unrelated issues for traffic stops. But new laws were established in Virginia back in 2021 that limit their ability to do so. For instance, if an officer stops your car for any of the following reasons and then searches the vehicle, they cannot use any evidence they find in court:

  • Objects dangling from the mirror
  • Broken headlights or other defective equipment
  • An expired registration
  • Window tints that are too dark
  • The smell of marijuana
  • Having a loud exhaust

This doesn’t mean you will never get pulled over for these reasons, but just that the police can’t intentionally use them as an excuse to stop and search your vehicle.

What If I Wasn’t In Actual Physical Control Of The Vehicle?

You need to be in actual physical control of the vehicle to be accused of operating it under the influence. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the car has to be in motion. You could also face arrest if you’re impaired while sitting in the driver’s seat, sleeping on the side of the road, stopping in a parking lot, or sitting in the vehicle with the engine on. Just because you aren’t moving doesn’t preclude you from DUI charges.

That being said, you may be accused of being in actual physical control when you know that was not the case. This is just one reason why you need to understand all of your defense options in Virginia.

Don’t Back Down On Your DUI Defense – We Can Help.

There’s nothing more important to us than your future or your freedom. Call 703-542-3616 today or check out our online contact form to set up a free consultation.