During a DUI Arrest, Your Rights Are Dramatically Circumscribed

As far as your constitutional rights are concerned (the right against illegal search and seizure, the right against self-incrimination, and so forth), an investigation and arrest for drunk driving in Virginia occupies a very sizable gray area. Essentially, you're being charged on the basis of something that literally resides inside your body—the alcohol content of your blood—but there's no way you can avoid a figurative “search and seizure” (i.e., the preliminary breathalyzer test administered at the scene of the infraction and the blood-alcohol test given at police headquarters). Also, the officer only has to read you your Miranda rights at the time you are formally arrested, so the preliminary interview, sobriety test, and breathalyzer test don't technically count as self-incrimination.

The thing that bothers constitutional die-hards the most, as you might imagine, is the blood evidence that's usually required for a Virginia DUI conviction. You may not be aware of this, but in the state of Virginia you gave your “implied consent” to be tested for your blood-alcohol level when you obtained your driver's license (go back and read the fine print of the accompanying documentation, if you're not convinced). If, nevertheless, you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer or blood-alcohol test, or even a field sobriety test, the police officer has the right to suspend your license then and there, and you will incur pretty much the same penalties as you would have if you had been convicted for DUI in the first place.

This may sound drastic, but you're not entirely without rights when it comes to the DUI process in Virginia. Have questions? Call 888-783-9701 and speak with an experienced Virginia DUI defense attorney at Jarrell, Hicks & Waldman. Your initial consultation is free.

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