Arrested for DUI or DWI in Virginia…Where to Turn?!?
by our Fairfax DUI lawyer
UPDATE – 1:30 AM: [moved to top] “SoberRide” phone number for free taxi service in Northern Virginia, Maryland, and D.C.
Our Number (for help if you or a loved one has been arrested in a Northern Virginia jurisdiction):
If you or a loved one has been charged with driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Virginia, there are important initial steps to take depending on a few different factors. But note: no two situations are the same, and this is not legal advice. If you are searching for Virginia DWI legal information (laws, penalties, etc.), please see our main Virginia DWI defense page.
First, our Fairfax DUI lawyer offers insight from two perspectives:
- the steps one may take immediately after receiving notice that a loved one has been arrested; and,
- the steps one may take if arrested on suspicion of DWI in Virginia.
The third section of this page lists the number for free taxi rides in the Northern Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. Metro area on December 31 and January 1.
Finally, principal attorney and Northern Virginia-serving Fairfax DUI lawyer, Brenton Vincenzes, offers a few pointers for how to handle a situation if you have not been arrested, but have been stopped by an officer on a notorious holiday like New Year’s Eve (notorious for large volumes of DWI arrests).
The holiday season is in full-swing, and with the New Year just around the corner, spirits are high and people are celebrating all over the world. Not surprisingly, more people celebrating means more people drinking and driving. Earlier in the week, our Virginia criminal lawyer published a blog post showing how Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) arrests increase during the month of December. If you are not in a rush, it may be worth a read.
What to do:
loved one arrested for DWI in Virginia,
from a Fairfax County DUI Lawyer
I am often the first person people have contact with after finding out a loved one has been arrested. This is because as a Fairfax DUI lawyer with a practice serving all of Northern Virginia, my number is not hard to come across. Most of the area Fairfax bail bonds company owners and agents know me, and we have good relationships. Having helped many people, I hope you will take a moment to take a deep breath and realize there are professionals who can guide you through this difficult period, even if it seems as if you are in crisis mode.
Step 1: Determine the detention facility (jurisdiction and address)
Hopefully, you know the detention center or jail facility where your loved one is located or is en route to. If you do not, you should determine the jurisdiction where they have been arrested.
Did they tell you that they were pulled over in a specific county? If you know for a fact that your loved one was traveling on a road such as the Fairfax County Parkway, then it is a good bet that they are going to be taken to the Adult Detention Center in Fairfax, Virginia.
For a list of most major Northern Virginia jails, visit our jails and bail bond resource page here. You may want to bookmark that page (or this one), because as you will read in a moment, one of the first considerations when a loved one is arrested has to do with a bail bond. If you do not know what a bail bond is, the previous link contains a frequently asked questions section.
Step 2: call a local Fairfax criminal lawyer or Fairfax bail bonds company
Not in Fairfax?
Most Fairfax-serving defense attorneys and bondsmen serve
other Northern Virginia counties, too
Depending a number of factors, it may or may not be possible for your loved one to get out of custody before a formal hearing in front of a judge during regular court business hours. If a bond amount is set, or if it is determined that the arrested individual may be released on recognizance (meaning no bond is required), then you can take steps to move the process along so they are released as soon as feasible. This involves contacting a bail bonds company (assuming a bond is required).
Because bonds are an essential component of the justice system, we know the owners and agents who work for the most respected Fairfax and Northern Virginia bail bond companies. We are happy to recommend the best and most trusted professionals. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer and Northern Virginia DWI attorney, my law firm is picky when choosing other professionals to refer our own clients to. Similarly, these bail bonds companies can help their clients find trusted Virginia and Fairfax County criminal defense attorneys.
Should I call a local Fairfax DUI lawyer or Fairfax bail bonds company first?
It only takes a moment to call either one, so it does not really make a difference. Both groups of professionals can recommend trusted defense attorneys and/or trusted bail bond companies. Some local Northern Virginia law firms publicly state that people can call 24 hours a day, such as the Vincenzes Law Firm. Still, bail bond companies are regularly working 24 hours a day, and if it is early in the morning (before 5am), it may be easier to reach a bonding company.
Practically speaking, it may be easier in many situations for a family member of the arrested individual to make contact with a bond company, even if the arrested person is going to be financially responsible for the bail bond fee. This is because communication between incarcerated persons and anyone on the outside is not always a sure bet. Virginia DUI lawyers and Virginia bail bonds companies have professionals who are able to help guide family members of the arrested person through a difficult day or two, and a local Virginia criminal lawyer can help the client and family navigate the justice system that lies ahead.
Step 3: Depending on who you called first (bail bonds company or lawyer), you should now call the other
The bail bonds company will be able to immediately assist you in most cases, assuming it is a 24/7 company (most are). They can tell you (typically) the bond amount if that information is available, and explain how much it will cost to actually post the bond (expect to pay at least 10%). Thus, if the bond amount is set at $2,500, the fee (at 10%) would be $250. The $2,500 would not be owed unless the defendant violates a term of release, such as missing a court date.
It is important to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. If the bond amount is not extraordinarily high and is affordable for the accused to get out of jail as soon as possible, then a lawyer can be consulted the next day. But if the bond amount is so high that the arrested individual cannot afford a bond, or if bond is revoked and no amount is set, then a lawyer should be contacted right away. This is because in order to get a person out of custody who has no bond, a bond hearing must be scheduled with the court and an argument must be made on the arrested person’s behalf. Otherwise, the person will have to remain in custody until their court date, and a court date may be months away.
If a person is arrested, has no bond set, and it is a weekend or holiday, then they may have to remain in custody longer. This is because it is only possible to schedule a bond reduction hearing by written motion on a day the court is open. Assuming the deadline is met (depends on local court rules), then typically the bond hearing takes place the next business day.
If you are arrested
You will hopefully be prepared in the sense that you have a close family member’s telephone number memorized. If you have an attorney, keep their card on you. You will be able to make a phone call, but others will not be able to reach you. The section above applies, but logistically, you may be the one calling the lawyer. Or, you may be calling a loved one and asking them to find a Fairfax bail bonds company or bail bonds company in Northern Virginia serving the county or city where you were arrested.
Resources to stay safe:
Telephone Number: (800) 200-TAXI
SoberRide is a service provided by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP). Taxi rides are free on New Years, but you must be 21 years of age. Also be aware that if you are intending to travel from Washington D.C. to Virginia, D.C. to Maryland, or some other combination, note that the following areas are covered:
- Virginia: Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William, and eastern Loudoun.
- Maryland: Montgomery and Prince George.
- D.C.: Anywhere in city.
WRAP’s highway safety report | PDF |
Washington-metropolitan area statistics (also from WRAP) | PDF |
Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Drinking and Driving Programs
If you are suspected but not arrested
If you see those blue lights flashing, pull over as soon as you can safely do so. When the officer approaches, remain polite and calm. Put your hands on the wheel so they are visible, and the officer will be more at-ease. Respectfully state your rights. If you are not sure about something, ask the officer what the law says. If the officer asks you to submit to a Breathalyzer test but you have not been arrested, then there is likely not enough evidence at that point for you to be charged, and the officer is looking for evidence to confirm a suspicion. If you are asked to do sobriety tests, the officer should not demand you to take the tests. The tests are just like a Breathalyzer test prior to arrest: meant to confirm an officer’s suspicion. You are allowed to turn down an invitation to perform sobriety tests. If you are arrested, then a Breathalyzer test may be administered and if you refuse such a test after arrest, there may be additional penalties. Instead of panicking, remain calm and always ask the officer if you are being ordered to do something if it is not clear whether or not you have a choice.
Vincenzes Law, PLLC, is a Virginia criminal and DWI defense firm serving Fairfax County, Loudoun, Stafford, Prince William, Spotsylvania, Fredericksburg, Alexandria, Arlington County, and all of Northern Virginia!
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