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Roanoke Virginia Criminal Defense Law Blog

Future of gun rights legislation uncertain

For many people in Virginia, the topic of gun rights is a key focus these days. This can be the case regardless of someone's political leanings or their personal point of view on guns. It can be influenced by their own experiences with firearms.

For some people, there is a great level of concern that what they consider to be a fundamental right guaranteed to them by the United States Constitution may be stripped away. For others, there is an equal concern that they and their families are not safe under the current laws as mass shootings appear to now be more the norm than the exception and they happen is so many different environments and locations.

Retailers move forward to ban open carry

For many residents in Virginia and around the United States, the right granted to them by the U.S. Constitution to bear arms is one that is integral to being an American citizen. However, it may feel to many people that this right is under siege today. The continuing and disturbing number of mass shootings has led to several calls for changes in the nation's gun laws. To date, no major amendments have been made from a legal standpoint, however.

Every state is allowed to have its own gun laws that outline when or where a person may carry a firearm. In addition, individual businesses may have policies that dictate who can or who cannot bring a gun into their stores, offices or restaurants. These policies might be slightly different than the state laws.

Steps to take if pulled over for suspicion of DUI

There is never a good time to drive under the influence of alcohol, as police continue to crack down on individuals who make this mistake.

If you're pulled over for suspicion of DUI, you can expect your stress level to immediately rise. While there's a chance this can result in an arrest, you may be able to avoid it by taking the right steps. Here's what you need to do:

  • Pull over right away: Once you see police lights in your rearview mirror, put on your four-way flashers and pull to the side of the road or a nearby parking lot. Also, upon stopping, put your hands on the steering wheel and stay where you are.
  • Be polite: Don't misbehave in any way, as this only gives the officer more reason to believe you're under the influence. Be polite and respectful at all times, while also providing any requested documentation.
  • Don't say too much: It's okay to answer basic questions, but you don't want to say anything that can result in your arrest. You can invoke your Fifth Amendment rights, thus allowing you to remain silent.
  • Don't tell lies: You can lie as much as you want, but most officers won't fall for it. They've heard every story in the book, so telling a lie will only make it look like you're hiding something. Stick to the facts and don't say anything that will complicate your situation.
  • Don't resist arrest: If the officer puts you under arrest, it's best to go with the flow. Resisting will only make things worse, as it can result in additional criminal charges. Take mental notes as to what's happening at every step in the process.

New diversion program for marijuana offenses

Over the past several years, many states across the national have passed laws that have legalized the use of marijuana for recreational purposes. Colorado led the way as the first state to do this and was quickly followed by all three west coast states. The movement has moved beyond the west and, today, even the District of Columbia allows legal use of recreational pot. For the time being, however, such use is still illegal in Virginia.

According to a report by The Washington Post, many people seeking political offices across the state are indicating their support for legalized recreational marijuana. In addition, other efforts are underway to ease the burden faced by people who are arrested for and charged with some drug offenses involving pot. The state has in place a program for diversion that may be available to some people accused of a first-time pot offense.

What is the difference between aggressive driving and road rage?

By now, almost everyone in Virginia and elsewhere knows about road rage. With so many drivers sharing the roads and being stressed out or in a hurry, it can be easy to lose control in traffic. However, you should understand that there is a difference between driving aggressively and a true act of road rage, especially if you are facing road rage charges.

The American Safety Council explains that aggressive driving involves numerous traffic behaviors that can range from being irritating to creating a dangerous situation. Aggressive driving can include the following:

  • Speeding
  • Tailgating
  • Cutting other drivers off
  • Swerving in and out of lanes
  • Running stop signs or red lights
  • Ignoring traffic rules

Woman seems caught by updating laws

People who live in Virginia and who are arrested for drunk driving know that they may face a myriad of penalties if they are convicted. The consequences associated with a conviction for driving under the influence have evolved over the years. One of the changes that has taken place is regarding the required use of ignition interlock devices, or IIDs as they are commonly known.

As explained in a recent report by WAVY.com, there was a time when IIDs were not mandatory for every driver convicted of a DUI offense. That changed, however, in 2012 when a new law went into effect that required every person convicted of drunk driving to install and use an ignition interlock device. Drivers are responsible to pay for all of the costs associated with an IID, including installation, calibration, leasing and removal.

Gun carry laws in Virginia

With many people in Virginia and around the nation discussing gun laws in light of the continued tragedies that occur when people engage in mass shootings, it is important for you to be aware of the laws regarding guns in Virginia. Every state is allowed to have their own laws so you cannot assume these are like others you may have known if you moved here from another part of the country.

As explained by GunsToCarry.com, you are legally allowed to carry a gun openly in public in Virginia if you are at least 18 years of age. You may carry a gun with you in any state park as well. If you wish to go to a restaurant, you may have a gun with you and it may be openly visible or concealed. If you are carrying a gun openly in a restaurant, you are not allowed to drink alcohol while you are there. If the gun is concealed, you may consume alcohol.

Reviewing the margin of error in breathalyzer devices

Those facing drunk driving charges in Roanoke may think that there options for challenging the charges against them are limited if authorities are using the results of a breathalyzer test against them. The common school of thought is that such results offer scientific proof of one’s intoxication, yet that may not necessarily be true. As is the case with almost every measuring device, there is a degree of error that should be taken into account when dealing with breathalyzer devices. Knowing what that may be requires that one also understand how a breathalyzer test generates a measurement. 

Breathalyzers measure the ethanol content in a breath sample, and then uses a conversion factor in order to draw a conclusion about the ethanol content of the blood of the person from whom the breath sample came. According to the Alcohol Pharmacology Education Partnership, two points are assumed when making this conclusion. First, it is assumed that the sample follows the parameters of Henry’s Law, which is that the concentration of gas in a liquid is directly proportional to the concentration of the same gas in the air directly above that liquid. This equates to (in the context a breath test) the concentration of ethanol in one’s breath being proportional to the concentration of ethanol in their blood. 

Should you fight a traffic ticket in court?

It's natural for your stomach to sink if you see police lights in your rearview mirror. If you're pulled over, it's important to remain respectful and pay close attention to everything the officer says.

With the right approach, the officer may let you go without issuing a ticket. This saves you a lot of hassle, money and time in the future.

How do you have the right to vote restored?

The limitations and restrictions that a criminal conviction can place on you in Roanoke have been detailed on this blog in the past. Being associated with criminal activity can hinder your chances at finding a job or securing housing, and a criminal conviction also places restrictions on your right to own a gun. Yet what many fail to realize (and what you may just be learning) is that certain other civil rights may be stripped from you when you are convicted of a crime. Chief among these is the right to vote. 

There may be several burgeoning legislative efforts in your local area to help support your rights, and you no do want to do your part to push those through. How can you, however, if you are restricted from voting? Per the Restoration of Rights Project, Virginia is one of the few states that does not automatically restore your voting rights after you have completed all of the punitive terms associated with your conviction. Rather, much as is the case for expungement, you must petition to have your voting rights restored via a pardon from the state's governor. In the past, efforts have been undertaken to allow for rights restoration actions that address multiple individuals, yet those have failed to be enacted into law. Currently, the governor still considers voting rights restoration cases on an individual basis. 

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