Alexandria DUI Defense Attorneys

Whenever you are on the road, you need to know how to protect yourself. The first thing you can do is by following every traffic law. If by any chance you are facing a traffic offence charge, you should protect yourself against huge charges and fines by hiring an expert Alexandria Virginia DUI lawyer. You should read the Virginia driver’s manual. It will help you know all the things you should do while you are driving. Driving under the influence of a drug is a big offence. It is not just an offence; it is a crime. The state of Virginia declares that DUI is a class 1 misdemeanour.  It is unlawful for any person to drive a motor or any vehicle when a person has blood alcohol level equal or more than 0.08 percent.

What is DUI in Alexandria Virginia?

When you are in Alexandria Virginia, you should know all about the DUI laws. You should know the BAC levels and what charges you will face if you get a ticket for DUI. The first DUI offence will charge you for seven days suspension of your license. You will have to pay $250 fine. The judge may refer to you for an alcohol safety program, you will have to use the ignition interlock device, and the state will add demerit points to your profile.

If you make a DUI offence, your license will suspend for 60 days. You will have to pay $500 fine. You may have to go to jail for ten days or one month. This period depends on when you commit a second offence. If you commit a second DUI within five years of the first offence, you will receive one month jail. Your criminal record also receives demerit points.

When you do a third DUI offence, the court will suspend your license until your trial. You will go to jail for six months if you drive under the influence within five years of your second offence. You will go to jail for 90 days if you are driving under the influence after five years of your second DUI offence. You will have indefinite license revocation. The judge will possibly refer you to an alcohol safety program. The court will charge you with a felony. It is time that you take help from a lawyer if you face such charges. Only an expert lawyer can help you get out of the trouble you are facing.

What will a DUI attorney do?

If you face such charges, it is time you got legal help. If you do not want to spend some time in jail, make sure that you hire an expert Alexandria Virginia DUI lawyer. An expert DUI attorney from a reputable law firm is your best hope. A reputable lawyer will make sure that you do not receive the maximum penalty for DUI. These lawyers also have flexible payment options. You do not have to worry about payment; you can make payment via credit cards, debit cards, visa cards, bank transfers, etc.

Alexandria Lawyer VA Federal Court Attorney

The following are some of the different questions clients ask us when charged with a driving under the influence of alcohol in:

Do I need a Lawyer for a first offense drunk driving in Alexandria VA?
How do I find the right drunk driving attorney in Alexandria VA for me?

The following is a case that is illustrative of a case:

Upon a Petition for a Writ of Actual Innocence.

Donald Joseph Conley petitioned this Court for a writ of actual innocence based upon newly-discovered, non-biological evidence, pursuant to Chapter 19.3 of Title 19.2 of the Code of Commonwealth, alleging that his June 28, 2004 conviction for driving under the influence, third offense (hereinafter “third offense”) should be vacated because the April 26, 2004 conviction (hereinafter “second offense”) used to prove the predicate offense was subsequently dismissed on appeal for violation of his right to a speedy trial when he appealed that conviction from general district to circuit court. For the reasons that follow, we grant Conley’s petition for a writ of actual innocence.

  1. Background

On June 28, 2004, Conley was convicted of third offense driving under the influence and was sentenced to five years, with three years suspended. As proof of the third offense, the Commonwealth entered a general district court conviction order for his second offense driving under the influence. This Court affirmed his third offense driving under the influence conviction in a memorandum opinion issued on December 20, 2005. See Conley v. Commonwealth, Record No. 2813-04-1, 2005 . App. LEXIS 516 (. Ct. App. December 20, 2005).

On September 14, 2005, Conley filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Supreme Court of . asking, inter alia, for leave to appeal his second offense driving under the influence conviction to the circuit court. The Supreme Court of Commonwealth granted Conley’s request for a writ of habeas corpus on March 17, 2006. No further action was taken in that case until counsel was appointed on November 15, 2009.

On January 22, 2010, Conley moved the circuit court to dismiss his second offense driving under the influence charge, alleging a violation of his statutory and constitutional speedy trial rights. The circuit court dismissed the second offense driving under the influence charge and entered a release order on February 25, 2010. On March 26, 2010, Conley filed a petition for a writ of actual innocence arguing that he is actually innocent of felony third offense driving under the influence because the misdemeanor second offense used to prove third offense no longer exists.

  1. Analysis

The Court of Appeals of Commonwealth has original jurisdiction to consider a petition for a writ of actual innocence based on newly-discovered, non-biological evidence filed by any individual “convicted of a felony upon a plea of not guilty.” Code § 19.2-327.10; see also Carpitcher v. Commonwealth, 273 . 335, 342, 641 S.E.2d 486, 490 (2007). “The writ shall lie to the court that entered the conviction . . . .” Code § 19.2-327.10.

To obtain a writ of actual innocence, a petitioner must allege, inter alia, that the newly-discovered evidence

(1) “was previously unknown or unavailable to the petitioner or his trial attorney of record at the time the conviction became final in the circuit court;” Code § 19.2-327.11(A)(iv);

(2) “is such as could not, by the exercise of diligence, have been discovered or obtained before the expiration of 21 days following entry of the final order of conviction by the court;” Code § 19.2-327.11(A)(vi);

(3) “is material and when considered with all of the other evidence in the current record, will prove that no rational trier of fact could have found proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt;” Code § 19.2-327.11(A)(vii); and

(4) “is not merely cumulative, corroborative or collateral.” Code § 19.2-327.11(A)(viii).

Carpitcher, 273 . at 343-44, 641 S.E.2d at 491.

Conley’s petition for a writ of actual innocence presents this Court with a very unique set of facts that distinguishes it from other cases that have come before this Court. As stated above, Conley was convicted of driving under the influence second in general district court on April 26, 2004. An appeal from that conviction was not timely perfected. Conley was subsequently awarded a writ of habeas corpus ordering that he be permitted to pursue an appeal from his general district court conviction to the circuit court.

Here, petitioner argues that he is actually innocent of his conviction for third offense driving under the influence because his conviction for second offense driving under the influence was ultimately dismissed before going to trial in circuit court. The Attorney General argues that we should consider the distinction between legal innocence and factual innocence, asserting that a prior conviction remains available as a predicate offense until the petitioner has been shown to be factually innocent of the prior offense. The Attorney General’s argument fails for at least two reasons. First, “because the appeal of a conviction from the general district court to circuit court results in a trial de novo, perfecting the appeal in the district court renders the judgment a nullity.” Corbin v. Commonwealth, 44 . App. 196, 208, 604 S.E.2d 111, 117 (2004) (“An appeal de novo from a general district court to a circuit court annuls the former judgment as completely as if no trial had ever occurred.”). “[T]he judgment appealed from is completely annulled, and is not thereafter available for any purpose.” Preston v. Commonwealth, 14 . App. 731, 733, 419 S.E. 2d 288, 290, 8 . Law Rep. 3552 (1992). Therefore, the conviction for second offense driving under the influence could not, as a matter of law, serve as a predicate offense. Second, on an appeal from general district court to circuit court, once the conviction is annulled, the defendant is presumed innocent.

 

It is in this light that we consider whether the newly-discovered evidence that Conley cannot be convicted of driving under the influence second for the offense that previously led to his April 26, 2004 general district court conviction “when considered with all of the other evidence in the current record, will prove that no rational trier of fact could have found proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt[.]”Code § 19.2-327.11(A)(vii). The Attorney General asserts that it is the record at the time of Conley’s conviction that ought to be considered, but the Code clearly contemplates that we consider “all of the other evidence in the current record” when determining whether “no rational trier of fact could have found proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt[.]” Id. (emphasis added). Thus, the concern for this Court when evaluating a petition for a writ of actual innocence is the evidence before us today and not only what was known on the day that Conley was convicted of third offense driving under the influence.

“Code § 18.2-270 sets forth the penalties for a defendant convicted of driving while intoxicated or under the influence in violation of Code § 18.2-266.” McBride v. Commonwealth, 24 . App. 30, 33, 480 S.E.2d 126, 127 (1997). A person convicted of driving under the influence for the first or second time is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.  Code § 18.2-270(A). Code § 18.2-270(C) provides that “[a]ny person convicted of three or more offenses of § 18.2-266 committed within a 10-year period shall upon conviction of the third offense be guilty of a Class 6 felony . . . . ” (emphases added). The prior convictions must be alleged and proven for the increased penalty to be appropriate.

The purposes of an allegation in a warrant or indictment that an accused has been previously convicted of a similar offense are to put him on notice that proof of his prior conviction will be introduced in evidence, and to permit the imposition of a heavier punishment if the second or subsequent offense is proved. For the heavier punishment to be imposed by the jury or the court trying the case without a jury, “the prior offense must be charged and proven.”

Calfee v. Commonwealth, 215 . 253, 254-55, 215 . 253, 208 S.E.2d 740, 741-42 (1974) (quoting Commonwealth v. Ellett, 174 . 403, 409, 413, 4 S.E.2d 762, 764, 766 (1939)) (decided under a prior statute). Thus, for a person to be guilty of the Class 6 felony, the Commonwealth must prove that the defendant was previously convicted of driving under the influence on at least two prior occasions.

“‘[T]he primary objective of statutory construction is to ascertain and give effect to legislative intent.'” Conger v. Barrett, 280 . 627, 630, 702 S.E.2d 117, 118 (2010) (alteration in original) (quoting Turner v. Commonwealth, 226 . 456, 459, 309 S.E.2d 337, 338 (1983)). “‘When the language of a statute is unambiguous, we are bound by the plain meaning of that language.'” Commonwealth v. Morris, 281 . 70, 76, 705 S.E.2d 503, 505 (2011) (quoting Conyers v. Martial Arts World of Richmond. Inc., 273 . 96, 104, 639 S.E.2d 174, 178 (2007)). And “‘[i]f a statute is subject to more than one interpretation, we must apply the interpretation that will carry out the legislative intent behind the statute.'” Id. (quoting Conyers, 273 . at 104, 639 S.E.2d at 178).

 

Commonwealth v. Amerson, 281 . 414, 418-19, 706 S.E.2d 879, 882-83 (2011). The language of Code § 18.2-270 is unambiguous and clearly speaks in terms of convictions. A conviction is “[t]he act or process of judicially finding someone guilty of a crime; the state of having been proved guilty[;] [t]he judgment (as by a jury verdict) that a person is guilty of a crime.” Black’s Law Dictionary 384 (9th ed. 2009). An offense, however, is simply the underlying “violation of the law . . . .” Id. at 1186. Here, with the conviction for second offense driving under the influence  being rendered a nullity upon appeal to the circuit court and the subsequent dismissal of that offense without a trial, the record before us reveals one, not two, prior convictions. Thus, upon consideration of all the other evidence in the current record, no rational fact finder could find proof of Conley’s guilt of driving under the influence third beyond a reasonable doubt.

III. Conclusion

For the foregoing reasons, we grant Conley’s petition for a writ of actual innocence and remand the matter for sentencing for a driving under the influence second conviction.