When you're facing serious charges and have a lot on the line, you can never ask too many questions. Darwyn is always happy to answer any questions you may have, but these are some of the questions he hears the most.
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What can I do to reduce the chances of getting pulled over on St. Patrick’s Day for a DUI?
From Kegs-and-Eggs to green beer, restaurants and bars all over Fairfax and Northern Virginia are offering fun ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day from breakfast to midnight. Known for its drinking, this holiday is a favorite among those, Irish or not, who like to chow down on corned beef and cabbage and guzzle their favorite beer.
The problem with doing all that celebrating, however, is that it puts drunk drivers on the road. The police are well aware of this and double their efforts to stop it on St. Patrick’s Day. This puts you in great danger of being pulled over and charged with DUI if you have been drinking and decide to get behind the wheel.
Reducing the Risk of Getting Pulled Over
You want to have fun and drink, but you don’t want to put your life or the lives of others at risk. You also don’t want to have a DUI on your record. Unfortunately, there’s no magic on this lucky holiday that can stop that, unless you simply don’t drink and drive. You can instead, however:
- Party at home. Invite a few friends over and have them spend the night. This allows you to have as much fun as you want without putting yourself or anyone else in jeopardy. Area stores and grocery markets will be well-stocked with Irish treats to pump up the party.
- Don’t drink. As crazy as it may sound, enjoying yourself on St. Patrick’s Day is possible without involving alcohol. Enjoy some of the best Irish cuisine around or act as the designated driver for your friends. Who knows? This could be the best St. Patrick’s Day you’ve had, as you likely won’t feel terrible with a hangover the next day.
- Don’t drive. If you must go out and drink, call a cab or a designated driver. In fact, Washington Regional Alcohol Program will be offering SoberRide, a free taxi service for Washington-area residents from 4:00 pm March 17 through 4:00 am March 18. Put this number in your phone to be prepared: 1-800-200-TAXI.
Don’t Count on Luck to Help With Your DUI
If you have been issued a DUI, the Easley Law Firm wants to help. We may be able to have the charges reduced or even dropped. Contact us today to find out how.
What medications can have dangerous interactions with alcohol?
Your doctor recently prescribed you a medication and so far, it’s worked well. You’re planning to meet your friends tonight for drinks, and you’re not sure if mixing the two is a good idea.
Mixing drugs and alcohol can have dangerous effects. Not only can the two make you feel even more intoxicated and perhaps cause serious health issues like a heart attack, but it can lower the effectiveness of the medication.
When Alcohol and Medication Don’t Mix
Even seemingly benign medications can interact dangerously with alcohol, which can become a serious problem if you decide to drive. Here, we take a look at some of the medications you should never mix with alcohol:
- Antidepressants. Both alcohol and antidepressants can alter the central nervous system, which can affect the brain and impair your thinking skills and alertness. Combining antidepressants and alcohol can cause sleepiness, and can also decrease a person’s judgment, reaction time, and coordination. Additionally, certain antidepressants can cause a dangerous rise in blood pressure when taken along with alcohol.
- Diabetes medications. Those patients with diabetes who take medication to treat their condition can feel sick when drinking alcohol. Along with having extremely low blood sugar, diabetes patients may feel dizzy and nauseous, and experience flushing of the face.
- Blood pressure and heart medications. People taking angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors can experience blood pressure that becomes too low when drinking alcohol. As a result, they can feel dizzy, light-headed, and even faint. Additionally, alcohol is thought to decrease the effect of beta-blockers, which people often take for the treatment of chest pain, heart failure, and abnormal heart rhythm.
Drinking alcohol can make getting behind the wheel or operating any kind of machinery even more dangerous. When you mix alcohol with certain medications it can put you at an even greater risk of becoming seriously injured or injuring somebody else. We encourage you to share this article with your friends and family on Facebook or Google+ to help others better understand the risks associated with taking medication and drinking alcohol.
What medications and medical conditions can affect your performance in field sobriety tests?
You took the trip up to Washington to take in a Nationals game. A few of your friends from work joined you, and you had an excellent time. Before the game started, you had a few sodas, but once the first pitch was thrown, you switched to water. After all, it was hot and you were sitting in the sun.
On your way home, an officer pulled you over on I-95, saying that you were speeding. After the interrogation, you were asked to step out of the vehicle and participate in a few field sobriety tests. The officer said based on your appearance and behavior, he suspected that you were intoxicated.
Poor Field Sobriety Test Performances Aren’t Always Caused by Alcohol
You didn’t think to tell the officer about your medical condition and the medication you take to control it. Unfortunately, both can cause you to perform poorly on the tests. Here, we discuss explanations for certain behaviors displayed during the tests:
- Swaying and imbalance. Walking in a straight line, standing in place with your eyes closed and head back, and following a pen with your eyes may be impossible when you have inner ear conditions, prior head trauma, or epilepsy. Conditions such as these can negatively affect your test results.
- Nystagmus. The horizontal-gaze nystagmus test measures your ability to control your eye muscles. However, medication or conditions such as caffeine, aspirin, eye strain, and head injuries may cause your eyes to move around uncontrollably, causing the officer to believe you are intoxicated.
- Flushed and drunken appearance. You sat in the sun all day, which left your face flushed and your eyes red. You also suffer from rosacea, which gives you a rosy appearance. The officer believes that these factors are caused by alcohol instead of what they actually are.
We Want to Help Prove Your Innocence
Contact the legal professionals of the Easley Law Firm today to devise a defense against your DUI charge—we may be able to help.
Can I be held responsible if my teenager drinks and drives?
It was a little after midnight when you received the call—your teenage daughter was at the police station for driving under the influence of alcohol. Since your daughter is too young to drink, she is now facing criminal charges for getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.
You certainly don’t condone teenage drinking, and don’t understand how she was even able to obtain the alcohol. You’ve heard about other parents getting in trouble with the law from their underage children drinking and driving, and you wonder if you will too.
When Parents Are Liable for Their Children’s Actions
You didn’t have anything to do with your youngster consuming alcohol and then driving afterwards, but will you be held responsible for what she did? You could face charges if:
- You supplied alcohol to underage children in your home
- If you allowed underage children to drink alcohol in your home
- If you should’ve known that drinking was taking place in your home
For example, if you allow your children to host a party in your home and know underage drinking is occurring, you may face criminal and civil charges if one of the party-goers causes a serious accident because she was driving under the influence.
When Parents Typically Aren’t Held Responsible
If your child is found guilty of drinking and driving, you may not be found responsible for what she has done if you were unaware or had no reason to believe that underage drinking was occurring in your home
For instance, if you allow your child to host a party, but don’t have alcohol in the home, did not see anyone drink alcohol, or did not see any alcohol at the party, you likely won’t face charges if an accident or something similar occurs after the get-together.
The Easley Law Firm wants to help you with your difficult situation. Contact us today to speak to an attorney and find out what we can do.
How are blood alcohol concentration levels determined?
Getting pulled over on Interstate 495 or Interstate 95 can rattle even the most experienced driver, particularly if the officer believes you are intoxicated. If you’re swerving, speeding, going through stop signs or traffic lights, or otherwise driving in a manner that causes the police to believe you’ve been drinking before getting behind the wheel, it’s likely the cop will ask you to participate in field sobriety tests, or have your blood alcohol concentration levels tested.
How Your Blood Is Tested for Alcohol
When you have your blood tested, it is the laboratory’s word against yours. However, even labs make mistakes, which could send you to jail. Here’s why:
- The testing equipment has flaws. Many forensic labs check for alcohol in the blood by using a machine known as a gas chromatograph. The problem is that the equipment assumes alcohol is in the blood, rather than confirming whether or not any is present, which can cause false alcohol measurements. Additionally, this method is unable to determine if alcohol was present in the blood when it was in the motorist’s vein, or if the supposed presence of alcohol occurred during a storage error or delay before analysis.
- Law enforcement forensic labs aren’t always compliant. The types of labs used in BAC testing often fail to report the range of uncertainty associated with their methods. As a result, such labs often report an arbitrary and scientifically invalid blood alcohol concentration level.
Can You Prove Your Test Results Are Inaccurate on Your Own?
There’s a chance your BAC results were inaccurate, but do you know how to prove that in a court of law? Do you have experience speaking with a judge and jury? Do you feel comfortable that you have evidence to prove you are right and the lab results are wrong?
The legal professionals of the Easley Law Firm have helped many motorists in the Fairfax area with their DUI cases, and may be able to do the same for you. Contact us today to find out if we can help you.
What do BAC measurements mean?
If you’re driving on the George Washington Memorial Parkway, Dulles Toll Road, or the Capital Beltway, there’s a chance an officer will pull you over if he believes you are driving while intoxicated.
After he interviews you and asks you to perform in a number of field sobriety tests, he will likely ask that you participate in a test that measures your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). These tests help determine your level of intoxication.
The Truth Behind the Numbers
If your test results measure 0.08 g/dl or above, you are considered by the State of Virginia, to be intoxicated. Here, we take a look at BAC measurements and what they indicate:
- 0.02 g/dl. Those who have BACs of 0.02 g/dl typically experience some loss of judgment and altered moods. They are unable to perform more than one task at a time, and have a decline in visual functions.
- 0.05 g/dl. A BAC of 0.05 g/dl can affect a driver’s ability to steer, and can cause a reduced ability to track moving objects, reduced coordination, and a reduced response to emergency driving situations. The person will likely also exhibit exaggerated behavior, reduced inhibitions, lowered alertness, and difficulty controlling small-muscle movements.
- 0.08 g/dl. If your BAC is 0.08 g/dl, your muscle coordination becomes poor; your judgment, reasoning, memory, and self-control are impaired—and detecting danger becomes difficult. This BAC affects driving, as your speed control and concentration also decline. Drivers typically experience short-term memory loss, impaired perception, and have a reduced information processing capability.
- 0.10 g/dl. Those with BACs of 0.10 g/dl have slurred speech, slowed thinking, and poor coordination, and exhibit a clear deterioration of reaction time and control. They may also have a reduced ability to stay in the correct lanes and brake appropriately while driving.
Contact Us for Help
All hope is not lost if you have received a DWI. The attorneys of the Easley Law Firm may be able to help. Contact us today to find out what we are able to do for you.
What should I do if asked to take a breath or blood test?
Under Virginia law, if you are suspected of DUI, police may ask you to submit to a preliminary breath test (PBT) to determine if there is probable cause for a drunk-driving arrest. A PBT is a hand-held device generally administered roadside while police are conducting a DUI investigation. You have the right to decline this test and your declination cannot be used as evidence of guilt if you ultimately go to trial for DUI. Most importantly, you should be aware that if you submit to a PBT and it indicates that alcohol is present in your blood, you will likely be arrested and charged with DUI.
An “official” breath or blood test, on the other hand, is typically administered at the police station post-arrest. Virginia law states that an unreasonable refusal to take the official breath or blood test is a violation of Virginia’s Implied Consent laws. Such refusal can result in an additional charge and potential penalties beyond those faced in the underlying DUI. A first-offense refusal conviction carries a 12 month license suspension with absolutely no driving in Virginia. A second or subsequent conviction carries a three year license suspension, again with absolutely no driving in Virginia, and potential fine and incarceration.
What should I do if police seek to administer field sobriety tests?
You have the right to decline all field sobriety tests (e.g., walking straight line, counting, reciting alphabet, standing on one foot, following police finger or pen with eyes, touching fingers or nose, etc.). You also have the right to decline a preliminary breath test or PBT, which is a hand-held device often used by police to determine blood alcohol content before arrest. Note: PBT should not be confused with the post-arrest breath/blood test offered at the police station or jail. You must comply with the post-arrest breath/blood test or risk an additional charge for refusal.
Remember, police must have “probable cause” to arrest you. Probable cause is a legal term of art that simply means police must have clear facts or evidence to believe you are involved in criminal activity. The police are trained to persuade you to comply with field sobriety tests and PBT to establish probable cause for arrest. They will rarely, if ever, inform you that these tests are optional. They are trained to offer field sobriety tests in such way that you believe compliance is mandatory or somehow in your best interest. Police will use their training and all circumstances to their best advantage in gaining your compliance. In effect, by administering field sobriety tests, the police seek to have you make, or certainly strengthen, their case against you. The last thing you want to do is voluntarily provide police with the necessary probable cause for your own arrest.