Virginia Police Making DUI Arrests Have to Follow a Very Strict Protocol
In order to make a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) arrest in the state of Virginia, police can't simply wave a motorist over, demand to smell his breath, and take him into custody. In fact, the officer has to follow a strict protocol, involving a sobriety test, a preliminary breath test, and (if the driver is taken into custody) a more reliable blood test at police headquarters. If any of these steps are skipped or performed incorrectly, a good defense lawyer can have the DUI charge dismissed before it ever goes to court.
Here Are the Steps Virginia Police Must Follow during a DUI Arrest
- Having probable cause. A police officer can't simply stop a car because its driver “looks suspicious” or he likes that particular make of Toyota. Usually, inebriated drivers give themselves away by driving too slowly or weaving in and out of traffic, which is all the probable cause a Virginia police officer needs to start the DUI arrest process.
- Observing the driver's physical appearance. Bloodshot or unfocused eyes, slurred speech, and/or the smell of alcohol on a driver's breath are all sure signs that further testing is required. If none of these indications are present, the officer may simply issue a citation for a traffic violation.
- Administering a field sobriety test. The details of this test vary by region, but usually include walking a straight line, balancing on one leg, and/or performing verbal tasks like counting backward from 100.
- Administering a preliminary breath test. Before he can arrest you for DUI, a police officer must give you a preliminary breath test with a portable Breathalyzer. If the results of this test point to intoxication, that's all the probable cause the officer needs to make the arrest official.
- Administering a blood alcohol test. The last step of the DUI arrest process happens at the police station, after the suspect has been taken into custody. If the results of the blood-alcohol test confirm those of the preliminary breath test, the driver is booked on a DUI charge.
When it Comes to a DUI Arrest, No Detail is Unimportant
If you feel you have unfairly been taken into custody on a DUI charge, a good defense lawyer will interview you, the arresting officer, and the officer who administered the blood-alcohol test, in order to ascertain that correct protocol was followed and there were no oversights or omissions on the part of the police. The attorneys at Jarrell Hicks & Waldman, PC have decades of experience defending clients against DUI charges. Call today for your free consultation!