Facing a charge of driving while intoxicated can be emotionally and financially damaging.  Even a first DWI conviction can incur jail time, fines, alcohol treatment, and the suspension or restriction of your driving privileges.  Depending on circumstances such as breath or blood alcohol content (BAC), mandatory jail time and an ignition interlock device may also be included as part of the sentence.  The penalties for a second DWI are even stiffer, and a third DWI within 10 years may be charged as a felony.

The vast majority of DWI convictions are obtained based on statements from the defendant - such as an admission that he or she had been drinking prior to driving - or on the defendant's performance on the standardized field sobriety tests.  These tests include standing on one foot for a determined period of time, counting backwards between two given numbers, reciting the alphabet, walking a straight line heel-to-toe, or following a pen or flashlight with your eyes without turning your head.

These tests are completely subjective.  Only the officer making the arrest has the power to determine whether the tests are performed to his or her satisfaction.  During a DWI arrest, the defendant almost never benefits from making statements to the officer or performing any of these tests.

A charge closely associated with DWI/DUI, refusal refers to a DWI suspect's unreasonable refusal to provide a breath sample.  This charge applies only to a breath test at the police station after arrest.  It does not apply to the preliminary breath test (PBT) often offered on the street.  Like making admissions of drinking, and performing the field sobriety tests, you have the right to refuse the PBT.  There is rarely any benefit to providing a preliminary breath test.

By the time you've been charged with DWI, it's too late to change the facts of your case, but there are still defenses to this charge.  An experienced criminal defense attorney knows how to employ these tactics to contest the stop, confront the officer's memory and training, and challenge the accuracy of the breathalyzer.  Mr. Richmond has exactly that experience, gained through years of trial practice before the courts of northern Virginia, defending DWI cases.  Contact the firm to schedule a free consultation and discuss the facts of your case, and the possible defenses you may have.

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