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Know your rights after a DUI arrest

Facing criminal charges for a DUI/DWI in Virginia can be a very frightening experience. There are many uncertainties and many possible long-term negative outcomes. Because so much is at stake, all DUI cases should be taken seriously and evaluated unique to each case.

After a traffic stop and any field sobriety tests, the criminal process begins when a police officer places the suspect under arrest. If you see the flashing lights in your rear view mirror and are on the way home from drinking, it is important to know your rights should the officer choose to investigate you for drinking and driving.

What does it mean to be "driving under the influence"?

While elements of this phrase can vary by state, it is essentially illegal to operate your vehicle if your ability to drive safely is impaired by the effects of drugs or alcohol. As the driver, you must not have a blood-alcohol concentration level above the legal limit.

They've arrested you, now what?

After the police officer arrests, you should remain calm and obey directions given to you by the officer. You cannot resist the arrest, even if you are innocent. You also must provide the officer with accurate personal information such as name, age and date of birth. You do not need to say anything else, as you have the right to remain silent.

When an officer puts you under arrest, with probable cause of course, they have the right to do a "pat down" search over your clothing to make sure you are unarmed. They must treat you humanely and provide you with the essential needs of survival.

Also, be aware that the police can lie to you. They can trick you into providing them with certain information. After arriving to the station where they will book you, you have the right to a phone call to contact a loved one and if you choose so, an attorney. The police may put you in a witness lineup and you do not have the right to refuse this.

Though you are under suspicion for driving under the influence, you have rights that the police must comply with. It is important that you and your family are proactive after your DUI arrest. You do not have to wait until you are released from jail to talk with an attorney. Your rights are there to protect you in this situation and you should always know what they are.

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