LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Brenton Daniel Vincenzes | Sep 7, 2013

Virginia DUI Lawyer Explains: "Illegal Stops and Improper Sobriety Tests"

Fairfax DUI lawyerexplains:Illegal Traffic Stop

This Guide is Excerpted from Our Fairfax DUI Law Firm's Primary DWI Page

Before an arrest is made, the police officer must initiate a traffic stop. This may seem obvious, but the reason for such a stop is important. In other words, the stop must be a "legal stop." “Reasonable suspicion" must exist for a law enforcement officer to properly and legally stop a driver suspected of a violation of law. This does not mean the police officer has to believe the driver is under the influence; the police can stop drivers for all sorts of traffic infractions, such as an improper lane change, speeding, and so on. The smell of alcohol or other indicators, once stopped, can then lead to a DUI / DWI investigation.

The officer must have reasonable suspicion based on facts and circumstances. This is why police officers cannot pull drivers over for no reason. In court, the police officer must be able to explain to the judge why the driver was stopped. As a Fairfax DUI lawyer and Fairfax criminal lawyer dedicated to achieving the best possible outcomes for clients, we at Vincenzes Law strive to learn all of the facts, including the reason why the traffic stop was initiated in the first place. Any experienced DUI / DWI lawyer should do the same.

Fairfax DUI lawyer explains:Improperly Conducted Field Tests

When the police have stopped a driver and suspect him or her of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (driving while intoxicated), they may very well ask if the driver voluntarily will submit to a field sobriety test.

These tests are often used at trial against the charged driver. Before an arrest or charge, however, the tests are important because how well the test is executed by the suspected driver enables the officer to gain (or will eliminate) the probable cause factor needed to make the arrest.

The field sobriety tests we have discussed ( on our main page) must be conducted by the officer in a proper manner. If improperly administered, then a Virginia or local Fairfax DUI lawyer may be able to gain a significant advantage at trial on behalf of the accused party he or she represents. “Probable Cause" must exist to make a legal arrest in the United States of America. In the context, it relates to the reasonable belief under the circumstances and based on the available evidence, that it is likely that the stopped driver is under the influence of alcohol. If charged in Northern Virginia, a local Fairfax DUI lawyer may want to know how well you performed the field sobriety tests. In other words, if you were asked to take a test, and it was properly administered, the case may be thrown out if you did well enough for the trier of fact (judge) to rule in your favor: invalid arrest!

TIP! Did you know that in Russia, dashboard cameras are common? Dash-cams are so common in Russia because insurance fraud runs rampant. But in the U.S., there are some benefits to having such a device installed. When a driver who has been charged with DWI claims that they performed the sobriety tests successfully and without making more errors than a typical sober person, the first thing I want to see is the footage of the sobriety test(s). The problem is, most police cruisers do not have cameras installed. When the footage is available, it can be used to prove to the judge that based upon the reasonably successful completion of the sobriety tests, that the officer made an arrest without probable cause. If the judge agrees, the case ends at the preliminary phase!

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Vincenzes Law, PLLC, is a criminal defense firm in Fairfax, Virginia. Brenton D. Vincenzes is a Fairfax criminal defense attorney who offers free consultations (with no set time limit), flat fee quotations (as opposed to hourly billing), and several generous discounts. If charged in Northern Virginia, take advantage of our offer and ask for a free case evaluation. Vincenzes Law offers free case evaluations by email, or in-person.

Disclaimer:This guide is not legal advice. It is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Do not rely on anything you read on the internet, regardless of the source. If faced with a criminal accusation, investigation, or charge, please consult a licensed attorney with criminal law experience.

Additional resources provided by the author

§ 18.2-266. Driving motor vehicle, engine, etc., while intoxicated, etc § 18.2-266.1. Persons under age 21 driving after illegally consuming alcohol; penalty. § 18.2-267. Preliminary analysis of breath to determine alcoholic content of blood. § 18.2-268.1. Chemical testing to determine alcohol or drug content of blood; definitions. § 18.2-268.2. Implied consent to post-arrest testing to determine drug or alcohol content of blood. § 18.2-268.3. Refusal of tests; penalties; procedures § 18.2-268.4. Trial and appeal for refusal. § 18.2-268.5. Qualifications and liability of persons authorized to take blood sample; procedure for taking samples. § 18.2-268.9. Assurance of breath-test validity; use of breath-test results as evidence. § 19.2-187.1. Procedures for notifying accused of certificate of analysis; waiver; continuances § 18.2-268.10. Evidence of violation of driving under the influence offenses. § 18.2-269. Presumptions from alcohol or drug content of blood. § 18.2-270. Penalty for driving while intoxicated; subsequent offense; prior conviction. § 18.2-270.1. Ignition interlock systems; penalty. § 18.2-271. Forfeiture of driver’s license for driving while intoxicated. § 18.2-271.1. Probation, education and rehabilitation of person charged or convicted; person convicted under law of another state.

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