You are innocent until proven guilty, right? Not so fast. There are levels of “innocence” when it comes to DUI in Virginia. To understand this better, we can examine what a prosecutor needs to prove to convict you of a DUI in Virginia and explain some legal terms that you often see used in association with DUI charges.
DUI in Virginia
In Virginia, if you are charged with burglary, for example, the Commonwealth’s attorney (the prosecutor) must prove either to a judge or jury that you committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. In a DUI case, the same does not hold true.
DUI in Virginia can be charged if:
- The driver has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or more
- The driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol or
- The driver is under the influence of any self-administered intoxicant that impairs the ability to operate a motor vehicle.
If a driver is under the influence or drugs or alcohol or his or her ability to drive is impaired because of the same, he or she can be charged with DUI in Virginia.
You can be found guilty of DUI if your BAC is .08% or greater or you are under the influence or you are impaired. This is called a rebuttable presumption because you are presumed to be intoxicated if you have a BAC of .08% or greater.
The presumption part of “rebuttable presumption” is that you are presumed to be guilty of driving under the influence if your BAC is .08% or more. To better see what this means, we will create an example. You are driving home after having a couple of drinks. A police officer pulls you over. The officer says that she pulled you over because you had a taillight out. She smells alcohol on your breath and asks you to take a portable breathalyzer. You blow a .06. Since she didn’t notice any erratic driving or moving violations, chances are she will not charge you with DUI, in that you didn’t exhibit any behavior that showed that you were either impaired or under the influence. If you take the same exact facts and you blew a .08%, you are now in the back of the police car being taken to jail. Why? You are presumed to be under the influence.
Now, go back to the term “rebuttable presumption.” This is where your defense attorney comes in. It is now your opportunity to rebut (or argue) that you were not under the influence. A skilled defense attorney can build a defense that will be able to prove this. Jad Sarsour has been arguing on behalf of DUI clients for over 10 years. He knows the process and law inside and out. If you have been charged with DUI in Northern Virginia, give him a call at (571)-261-7314 to set up your initial consultation and see what kind of defense he can offer you.