Q: When I was pulled over recently on suspicion of DUI, I panicked and told the officer I was drunk. When tested, I had a blood-alcohol level well below 0.08 percent. Can I still be prosecuted for DUI?

A: No! Even if a driver is genuinely intoxicated, and confesses to DUI after he is pulled over by a police officer that, in itself, is not sufficient evidence to make a drunk-driving charge stick. What the state needs is a description of your behavior at the time of the arrest (slurred speech, difficulty concentrating, etc.), the results of a breathalyzer test, and the more accurate blood-alcohol test administered at police headquarters. If none of these tests indicate intoxication—most importantly, a blood-alcohol level at or above 0.08 percent—you cannot be charged with a DUI.

You may be surprised at the number of law-abiding drivers in Virginia who have a single beer over dinner, get behind the wheels of their cars, and then confess to drunk driving when they are pulled over by the police for an entirely different reason (e.g., they changed lanes without signaling.) Most officers are amused by these earnest confessions, mainly because they have experience dealing with genuinely drunk drivers and know the real deal when they see it.

However, that doesn't necessarily mean you're in the clear. As mentioned above, if you've been pulled over by the police after your single beer, it's probably because you committed some other traffic infraction. If this traffic violation rises to the standard of reckless driving, you will still demand expert legal representation. The Virginia traffic lawyers of Jarrell Hicks & Waldman, PC have decades of experience defending DUI and traffic violations; call today at 888-783-9701 for a free consultation!