DUI Defense
An experienced attorney is your best asset if you are wrongly accused of driving under the influence.  As an Assistant Public Defender, Mr. Saiki represented many people accused of DUI and other traffic offenses.  He uses his experience to benefit clients in his current practice.

The Law Office of David M. Saiki proudly serves the communities of Prince William County, including Manassas, Haymarket, Occoquan, Dumfries, Quantico and Woodbridge, as well as the neighboring communities, including Warrenton, Centreville, and Chantilly. 

Mr. Saiki is a member of the National College for DUI Defense

Please see below for answers to any questions you might have about traffic and DUI cases.


What does the Commonwealth have to prove to convict me of DUI?

The Commonwealth must satisfy a number of requirements to convict you of DUI:

First, the police must demonstrate that they had a  good reason to stop your car.  This is called having "reasonable articulable suspicion" to stop you.  The Commonwealth may establish reasonable articulable suspicion to stop you, for example, by introducing the police officer's testimony that you were weaving while driving.

Second, the police must demonstrate that they had probable cause to arrest you after you were stopped.  The Commonwealth most commonly establishes probable cause by demonstrating that you failed the standardized field sobriety tests, or that your blood alcohol content was more than .08 per 210 liters of breath as demonstrated by  the field breathalyzer, the PBT machine.

Third, in order to convict you of DUI, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were operating a motor vehicle while "under the influence" of alcohol or drugs.  The word "operating" is much broader than the word "driving."  For example, you can be convicted of DUI if you were sitting stationary in a car that is stopped on the side of the road with the keys in the ignition because this meets the legal definition of "operating."

The Commonwealth may prove that you were driving while under the influence by proving that your blood alcohol content was greater than .08 grams per 210 liters of breath at the time you were driving.  The breathalyzer test is most often used to prove your blood alcohol content. Even without a breathalyzer test, the Commonwealth may be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving under the influence by presenting evidence of your behavior, such as erratic driving, stumbling, slurred speech, and your performance on the standardized field sobriety tests.

What are the steps in a DUI case?

In a typical misdemeanor DUI case, between the date of your first appearance, and the trial date, your attorney will receive information from the Commonwealth called discovery.  Discovery is information in the Commonwealth's possession that is related to your case, such as the officer's version of events, any statements you made, and the results of any breath or blood tests. Your attorney will review the discovery materials to see if there you have any defenses to the Commonwealth's case.

If you have any defenses, such as proof that the police violated your rights by stopping you or arresting you, your attorney will file a motion (a written request) with the court before the trial date to have the evidence suppressed, so that the Commonwealth cannot use it against you.  For misdemeanor cases, motions to suppress are normally heard on the day of trial.

On the day of trial, the Court will hear the attorneys' arguments on any motions your attorney may have filed. If the motion is granted, the evidence you seek to suppress will be excluded from the trial,  This may or may not result in a complete defense.  If the suppressed evidence does not result in a complete defense, the case will go to trial.  If your motion is denied, the case will also proceed to trial.

On the trial day, the Commonwealth may offer you a plea agreement in which you would agree to a certain outcome of the case in exchange for your plea of guilty. Of course, the stronger your defense, the better their offer will be. 

If you don't like their offer, you can reject it.  Your options at that point will be to either plead guilty in front of the judge, and let the judge sentence you, or to take your case to trial.

If you elect to take the case to trial, and are found guilty, you can appeal your case to the Circuit Court if you are not satisfied with the outcome. If the Circuit Court finds you guilty, the decision of the Circuit Court may also be appealed to the Virginia Court of Appeals.  However, whether the Court of Appeals will consider an appeal from the Circuit Court to the Court of Appeals is up to the Court of Appeals.  In other words, unlike an appeal from the General District Court to the Circuit Court, an appeal from the Circuit Court to the Court of Appeals may or may not be granted.

A felony DUI charge follows the steps for a felony cases which include a preliminary hearing, indictment by the grand jury and a sentencing hearing.  See the information on the pages of this website on criminal defense for more information on the steps of a typical felony case.

What are my defenses to a DUI charge?

There are many possible defenses to a DUI charge. 

Before doing anything else, your attorney will interview you and any witnesses you have to find out what exactly happened.  Your attorney will also review the discovery documents to find why the police stopped you.  If, based on your version of events, the discovery materials, and interviews with any witnesses, your attorney discovers that the stop was improper, he will file a motion to suppress the evidence, as explained above.

Your attorney will also check to determine if the police had probable cause to arrest you.  Your attorney will talk to you and will examine the discovery documents to see how you performed on the field sobriety tests.  If you did not fail the tests, your attorney will file a motion to suppress the evidence because of lack of probable cause to arrest you.

Your attorney will also check to determine whether the Commonwealth complied with technical requirements of DUI law. For example, to use the breath certificate against you, the Commonweatlh must prove that you were operating a vehicle on a public road, as opposed to a private road, or private parking lot.  The Commonwealth must also prove that the police arrested you within three hours of driving.

If the Commonwealth has complied with all of the above requirements, your attorney will check to determine whether the Commonwealth can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were "under the influence" at the time of the stop. If you took a breathalyzer test, it is difficult to contest the results of the test. However, it is still possible to defend a DUI charge, even if the Commonwealth produces evidence that you had a BAC of .08 or more. For example, you may be able to demonstrate that, at the time you were driving, any alcohol you drank was not yet absorbed by your system, so your BAC at the time you were driving was lower than when you were tested at the station at a later time.  In other words, you would try to prove that your BAC was lower at the time you were driving than when you were later tested.

If you refused to take the breathalyzer test, you can defend on the ground that you were not "intoxicated" at the time you were driving.  You can try to demonstrate that your behavior when you were stopped did not indicate that you were under the influence.  Your attorney will argue that the Commonwealth cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were "under the influence" at the time you were driving.  However, it is generally not a good idea to refuse the breathalyzer test.

What happens if I refuse to take the breathalyzer test?

If you refuse to take the breathalyzer test, the penalty for a first offense refusal is suspension of your license for one year.  You are not eligible for a restricted license if found liable for refusal.

If you refuse a second time, or you refuse during a second DUI offense, your license will be revoked for three years.  You are not eligible for a restricted license during the period of your revocation. You are also subject to incarceration of up to six months and a fine of $1,000.00 if the refusal is within ten years of a prior refusal conviction, or DUI conviction; you are subject to incarceration for up to one year, and a fine of $2,500.00 if the refusal is a second refusal within ten years of any two prior convictions for DUI or unreasonable refusal.

What are the penalties if I am convicted of DUI?

The penalties for DUI depend on the number of prior DUI convictions you have, and your BAC level at the time you were driving:
  • For a first offense DUI with a BAC less than .15, you will pay a mandatory minimum fine of $250.  You may be incarcerated for up to 1 year but you are not subject to any mandatory minimum jail time.  Your license will be suspended for 1 year.  You can receive a restricted license.  You will need to attend the Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP).
  • If your BAC was at least .15 but not more than .20 all the penalties for a DUI 1st offense apply, but you will serve a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 5 days.  You will need an ignition interlock on your vehicle for at least 6 months to obtain a restricted license. 
  • If your BAC was greater than .20, all the penalties for DUI 1st offense apply, but you will serve a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 10 days.  You will need an ignition interlock for at least 6 months on your vehicle to obtain a restricted license.
  • For a second offense DUI within 5 years of a prior DUI, if your BAC was less than .15, you will pay a mandatory minimum fine of $500.  You will serve a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 20 days.  Your license will be revoked for 3 years.  You will be eligible for a restricted license after 1 year.  You will need an ignition interlock on your vehicle for at least 6 months.  You will need to attend ASAP.
  • If your BAC was greater than.15 but not more than .20 all the penalties above apply, but you will be sentenced to an additional mandatory 10 days in jail (a total of 30 days mandatory time).
  • If your BAC was greater than .20 all the penalties above apply, but you will be sentenced to an additional mandatory 20 days in jail (a total of 40 days mandatory time).
  • For a second offense DUI within  5 to 10 years of a prior DUI, if your BAC was up to.15, you will pay a mandatory minimum fine of $500.  You will serve a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 10 days.  Your license will be revoked for 3 years.  You will be eligible for a restricted license after 4 months.  You will need an ignition interlock on your vehicle for at least 6 months.  You will need to attend ASAP.
  • If your BAC was more than .15 but less than .20, all the penalties above apply, but you will be sentenced to an additional mandatory 10 days in jail (a total of 20 days mandatory time).
  • If your BAC was more than .20 all the penalties above apply, but you will be sentenced to an additional mandatory 20 days in jail ( a total of 30 days mandatory time).
  • For a third offense DUI within 5 years of two prior DUI convictions, you are subject to a 6 month mandatory minimum sentence. You will pay a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000.00.  Your license will be revoked indefinitely, but you can petition the court to reinstate your privilege to drive after 5 years.  You will need an ignition interlock on your vehicle for at least 6 months.
  • For a third offense DUI within 10 years of a prior DUI, all the above penalties apply, but you will be subject to a mandatory minimum 90 days incarceration, rather than 6 months.
  • Note that mandatory minimum fines are minimums.  The Court may order that you pay more than the minimum, up to $2,500 for a misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances.

Can I still drive if I am convicted of DUI?

It depends.  If you are eligible for a restricted license, you will be allowed to drive for limited purposes.  These purposes are:
  • Drive to and from work during work hours.
  • Drive to and from ASAP.
  • Drive during work hours if driving is necessary to your job.
  • Drive to and from school if you are a student.
  • Drive to and from health care services, including care of a family member.
  • Drive to transport a minor child to school, child care or medical care.
  • Drive for the purpose of court-ordered visitation of a child.
  • Drive to and from any court ordered drug counseling for a first-offender drug program.
  • Drive to and from court for any hearing in which you were subpoenaed as a witness, or to meet with a probation officer.

How much does it cost to defend a DUI charge?

This firm charges a flat fee of $700.00 to defend a basic misdemeanor DUI charge.  This does not include fees that must be paid to expert witnesses, such as toxicologists, if your case requires such expert assistance.   Felony DUI representation starts at a flat fee of $900.00.

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