Criminal Law Questions? Ask a Criminal Lawyer.
Thanks Dan, I am sorry for the delay. I was eating a late lunch.Virginia, like all states, has an implied consent law. That means you are deemed to have consented in advance to a breath or blood test when an officer stops your automobile and believes that one is warranted. You can refuse, but penalties go along with it, as does a license suspension of a year. Additionally, the fact of your refusal can come in against you if you go to trial on this case, and the jury will be told that they can weigh it as a likely admission of guilt if you take the case to trial. You can find the information about the breathalyzer in the VA code here. See section D. where you will see that the year's supsension is in addition to the automatic 7-day suspension that occurs on your first offense.You face a $250 fine and a years suspension of your license for the first refusal. This refusal has a civil penalty but if you were to refuse a second time on a new case, it becomes a criminal offense.VIrginia has levels of seriousness for DWI based on the driver's blood alcohol count. For those who tested under .15, you risk a $250 fine and a year's suspension. That's probably the worst you are looking out, except that the charge is a misdemeanor. You need a lawyer to represent you when you come to court, so that if there is any way this case can be bargained away and reduced (to a reckless driving, for example, which could eliminate the refusal problem and would avoid the harsh penalties you'd face if there were ever a second DWI) it could be negotiated. And, of course, since the case against you will rely entirely now on the observation of the officer, it is possible for a lawyer to discredit the officer's testimony on cross-examination and secure an acquittal if you wanted to fight the case. (How likely the possibility of an acquittal I will leave to your lawyer who can see the discovery and conference the case with the prosecutor).Either way, do not walk in by yourself and just plead guilty to the offense or think that you can fight this by yourself. Come with a lawyer, plead not guilty and let him try to do as much damage control as the circumstances of your case allow.
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