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Louisa, Virginia Criminal Defense & Traffic Law Blog

Illegal racing in Virginia can lead to reckless driving charges

There are many dangerous traffic offenses that can lead to various penalties. Speeding and reckless driving are two behaviors behind the wheel that can spark penalties. When they are used in combination and a person is accused of taking part in an illegal race, it can negatively impact the driver's life in myriad ways. Although it is known to be illegal to race, that does not automatically mean that a person accused is guilty. It is crucial to have a defense against these allegations.

To combat these charges, the first step is to understand the law regarding racing. If a person takes part in a race and there are two or more vehicles involved, they will be charged with reckless driving. This is true if the incident takes place on the highway, in a driveway, or on the premises of any location, whether it is a business, school, church or public property. Even if the driver was authorized by the owner of the property to take part in a race, it is illegal. If there is a conviction, in addition to other potential penalties, there will be an automatic suspension of driving privileges for at least six months and for as long as two years. The driver's license will be surrendered to the court.

Possible drug possession defense strategies

Good people get caught up in bad circumstances every now and again. For example, you could find yourself facing drug possession charges despite the fact that you have never been in trouble with the law in the past.

If you find yourself in this position, it's critical to learn more about your charges, your legal rights and the defense strategy you can use to protect against a conviction.

Two people face firearms charges after incident outside store

A great deal of attention is paid to gun issues today. Firearms charges can be serious if the weapon is discharged. When injuries and death result from the use of firearms, it is even worse. Often, people have other criminal accusations as part of the gun charges. It is unfortunate that weapons incidents happen so frequently, but, when they happen, it is wise for those who are arrested to understand the charges they are facing and prepare their case with a strong legal advocate.

A confrontation outside a Target store led to shots being fired and the arrests of two people. According to the police investigation, a man and woman had a verbal dispute. The woman allegedly fired shots at the man, but no one was injured. The man was arrested for marijuana possession and the intent to distribute. The woman was also charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. In addition, she is confronted with gun charges and for firing the weapon. The investigation is continuing.

What are the penalties for fleeing a traffic stop in Virginia?

Being subjected to a traffic stop in Virginia can be a worrisome experience. Still, fleeing law enforcement during a traffic stop will likely make any situation worse. For those who are facing charges for fleeing, it is important to understand what the law says and what the penalties might be, so that a coherent defense can be formulated.

When a law enforcement officer has given a signal for a driver to stop and the person flees, the driver can be charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor. However, the driver can make an affirmative defense that they believed that the person pursuing them was not a police officer. A conviction for a Class 2 misdemeanor can result in a jail sentence of up to six months, a fine of $1,000 or both.

Breath tests for a DUI investigation could be flawed

For Virginians and people across the United States, there may be an automatic mental link between a drunk driving charge and a breath test. This is generally known to be a basic part of an investigation. After a law enforcement officer makes a traffic stop for a potential DUI, one of the foundational parts of the case will be the breath test. This is used to determine the blood-alcohol content of the driver and can be a significant piece of evidence as the case moves forward. Many, however, do not even consider the possibility that the test results could be inaccurate. Now, this issue is garnering scrutiny and could be part of a defense against DUI charges.

A New York Times investigation says that breath test devices are prone to inaccuracy and can be off by as much as 40%. The reporters came to their conclusions after discussing breath tests with law enforcement officers, scientists, lawyers and executives. The study determined that many people could have been convicted because of a testing device that was improperly calibrated, was not maintained as it should have been, or was used incorrectly. Often, police departments are not well-versed in maintaining these machines, are not vigilant about it, or use solutions that are home-brewed and tainted.

Causing injury in a drunk driving accident

Most Virginians have a basic understanding of the laws related to driving under the influence. A conviction for DUI will lead to various penalties, including the possibility of jail time, fines, a driver's license suspension and more. The circumstances and outcome of the DUI incident will also impact the charges.

If a person is injured by a drunk driver, the case will be assessed to determine if harsher penalties are warranted. This is the case when a person is accused of maiming another while driving drunk. If a person is unintentionally injured because a drunk driver was behaving grossly, wantonly or with reckless disregard for the lives of others, the driver will be charged with a Class 6 felony. A conviction for a Class 6 felony can result in one to five years in jail or a fine of $2,500, or both.

What should (and shouldn't) you do at a DUI checkpoint?

Driving into a DUI checkpoint is sure to raise your anxiety level. Even if you only had one drink, you'll have concerns about what's about to unfold. And if you've had multiple drinks, it's natural to wonder if you'll be put under arrest.

If you find yourself face-to-face with an officer at a DUI checkpoint, here are five things you need to avoid:

  • Open alcohol containers: With an open alcohol container in your vehicle, you give the officer reason to believe you're under the influence. While the open alcohol container law in Virginia doesn't apply to passengers, it still gives the officer reason to dig around.
  • Erratic driving: Changing lanes, stopping and starting, and driving slowly will tip off the officers at the DUI checkpoint. Rather than do this, slow down to a reasonable speed and move toward the officer just as you would a stop sign.
  • Talking back: It's easy to become upset if you're stopped at a DUI checkpoint. This is particularly true if the officer is disrespectful. But rather than talk back and explain your legal rights, take a deep breath and keep your cool. You don't want to give the officer another reason to learn more about your situation.
  • Saying too much: Provide the officer with the information they request, such as license and registration, while also answering basic questions. However, don't say too much about what's happening, as it may incriminate you.
  • Resisting arrest: Depending on what the officer finds, they may put you under arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol. This isn't the ideal situation, but don't let your emotions get the best of you. Remain calm, follow the procedure outlined by the officer and take mental notes as to everything that's happening. Resisting only makes things worse, as it can lead to additional criminal charges.

Driver charged with hit-and-run after hitting bicyclist

When there is an auto accident in Virginia, drivers are expected to remain at the scene and call for medical assistance if necessary. Some, however, will not do that. Whether it is because they are fearful of the aftermath or have other concerns, they might decide to flee. Once law enforcement discovers what happened, charges for a traffic violation can occur. People can face a variety of penalties for traffic offenses, and having a strong legal defense is important to avoid the worst of them.

An accident between a car and a bicycle injured a 50-year-old rider and led to the arrests of two people. According to the investigation, a 2002 Nissan Pathfinder hit the bicyclist and then fled. A short time later, the vehicle returned, with a woman driving.

What if I face a commercial driver DUI?

Commercial drivers in Virginia and across the U.S. have a responsibility to remain sober when they are on the road. Since they drive for a living, it can be problematic if they drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Law enforcement treats these violations seriously, and commercial drivers who are stopped and arrested for DUI must be cognizant of the enhanced penalties they will face if they are convicted.

For those who are arrested and charged with a first or second commercial DUI, it is wise to understand the law. A commercial driver convicted of DUI will face a minimum fine of $250. The blood-alcohol content will determine the length of the jail sentence. For those who have a BAC greater than 0.15 but less than 0.20, they will face a minimum of five days' incarceration. If their BAC is higher than 0.20, they will face a minimum of 10 days in jail.

Studies disagree: Is the violent crime rate up or down?

Is the violent crime rate rising? Recent reports in Virginia and nationwide came to widely different results.

In a report released earlier this year, Virginia State Police said the number of violent crimes fell 2% in 2018. For the purposes of the report, violent crimes were defined as homicide, forcible sex offenses, robbery and aggravated assault. Homicides alone fell 14%. States vary widely in how they compile and report crime statistics, but many other states have reported similar drops.

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