When a person gets into an accident in Virginia, a police officer will check for intoxication. However, the process is a bit different when there is no accident involved.
An officer must have a valid reason for pulling over a driver when he or she suspects the driver is intoxicated. It’s true that many individuals convicted of a DUI in Virginia displayed very obvious signs of intoxication. For example, some drivers have been caught driving the wrong way on the highway.
There are several other common behaviors that individuals display when they’re drunk. The advantage that drivers have is that Virginia law doesn’t allow some behaviors to be used as evidence for suspicion.
What Is Reasonable Suspicion For DUI In Virginia?
If an officer doesn’t have a valid reason to pull a driver over, then a traffic stop can be deemed as invalid, which could result in the entire case being thrown out.
Put simply, an officer must have reasonable suspicion that a driver is intoxicated. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, a police officer cannot pull your vehicle over if he or she cannot cite a reasonable suspicion. In court, the officer must explain why they suspected a driver of DUI.
The DUI charge will be dropped if the officer doesn’t provide proof of reasonable suspicion. There are a few different types of reasonable suspicion.
Changing Lanes And Not Signaling
In Virginia, it’s actually legal to change lanes without signaling if there are no other vehicles around. If an officer pulls a driver over and attempts to issue a citation for this offense, the law says they cannot do so if there weren’t other vehicles around when the offense took place.
In the context of a DUI case, this could mean DUI charges against you are dropped. If the officer pulls a driver over when no traffic offense has been committed, the entire case could be dropped, which includes the DUI charge.
Weaving In And Out Of A Lane
It’s not uncommon for Virginia police officers to try to pull a driver over for weaving in and out of a lane. However, this isn’t a valid reason to stop a vehicle. A number of factors contribute to weaving within a lane.
For example, large trucks can cause smaller vehicles to weave within a lane, and due to their sheer size, larger vehicles are also prone to weaving. While it might not hold up in court, many officers use this reason when citing reasonable suspicion for a DUI case.
If a driver is driving erratically, it’s not uncommon for other drivers to notice and call the police. In fact, Virginia actually has a special phone number for anonymous tips, which is #77.
Anonymous drivers can use this number to report dangerous and reckless drivers. Today, most drivers carry a cellphone, so it’s not uncommon for people to get falsely reported.
Anonymous tips from other drivers can help officers find the reckless driver, but if the officer doesn’t witness the behavior, they cannot pull the driver over. The officer must also collect details from the person who reported the reckless driving.
In court, the officer must provide proof of reasonable suspicion of a DUI. If they try to use any of these listed reasons, then it’s possible that your case could be thrown out, but it could be difficult to get the charges dropped without help from a Virginia DUI attorney.
There are many other anomalies that could lead to dropped charges. For example, it’s possible that a police officer has misinterpreted the driver’s behavior or collected false tips from other drivers. There have been many anomalies that have led to wrongful DUI cases and invalid traffic stops.
What to Do About It?
Anyone who has been arrested in Virginia and charged with DUI should consult with an attorney. It’s especially important to find an attorney quickly when fighting DUI charges in Virginia because you only have five days to try to get your license back.
Most trial dates in Virginia are set roughly two months after you’ve been charged with a crime, so if you don’t hire an attorney quickly, you’re taking a risk.
Have You Been Arrested For Drunk Driving In Virginia, Maryland or Washington D.C.?
If you've been arrested for DUI or DWI you need to speak with an experienced drunk driving defense attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Vienna, Virgnia office directly at 703.991.7978 or our Rockville, Maryland office at 301.637.5392 to schedule your case consultation.