DWI (driving while intoxicated) and DUI (driving under the influence), also known as drunk driving are essentially the same thing in Virginia. DWI and DUI are defined by code section 18.2-266. Under this code section, a DWI or DUI can be proven by showing that the person drove while:
1. blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more;
2. under the influence of alcohol (in Virginia, a result from a breath or blood test is NOT needed to secure a conviction);
3. under the influence of a narcotic drug (illegal or legal prescription drugs)
In addition to one of the above factors, the prosecution must prove:
- Operation of a motor vehicle;
- Venue (that the offense occurred in the county where it is charged),
- Identification (that the person in courtroom is the person the officer observed driving a vehicle on the offense date), and
- and the foundational elements to establish the admissibility of the blood or breath tests.
This is a very broad and basic outline of what the prosecution must prove. There are additional proof requirements in certain factual situations.
For instance, in a case where there has been an accident and the officer does not personally observe the accused operating his vehicle, he must be able to prove (or get an admission to) 3 things - (1) that the defendant was the one driving, (2) that he had nothing to drink between the time of the accident and the time the officer arrived, and (3) that the officer arrested the driver within three hours of the accident.
Many of these things seem like they would be obvious and easy to prove, but I can tell you that they are a problem in many accident cases. The judge cannot simply assume these things into evidence - there must be direct or circumstantial evidence. In a single car accident situation, that will be a difficult task for the prosecutor without some statements from the accused.
There are many other similar situations where additional proof is required. Therefore, it is important that you speak with an attorney about your case.
Call or email to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with Fairfax DWI attorney Kyle G. Manikas. Mr. Manikas will analyze your Fairfax case from the perspective of a former Fairfax County prosecutor who has an inside understanding of the Fairfax system you will face.