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Roanoke Virginia Criminal Defense Law Blog

Reviewing Virginia's implied speed limits

The default action of most in Roanoke after being pulled over is to ask the officer why (even though they may know full well what it was that they were doing that merited being stopped). As many of those that our team here at Robert F. Rider, PLC was worked with can attest to, however, there are circumstances where one might legitimately not know why he or she is being stopped. A common one is when you are driving through an area where there are no posted speed limits. How, in such a situation, can an officer justify pulling you over for speeding? 

Nearly every state recognizes implied speed limits in certain areas, and Virginia is no exception. What these implied limits are depends on the area in which you are driving. According to the Virginia Department of Transportation, they are broken down as follows: 

  • 25 mph in residential neighborhoods and business areas
  • 35 mph on all unpaved roads
  • 45 mph for trucks (55 mph for all other vehicles on secondary roads)

How do you get your gun ownership rights back?

Having had to go through the ordeal of dealing with a felony arrest in Roanoke, your only desire is likely then to be to move one with your life. A major part of moving on will be having your civil rights restored. One particular right that you may covet is to once again be allowed to legally own a firearm. Your reasons may vary; you may want to be able to hunt again, or obtain a job that requires the use of a weapon. Whatever those motives may be, the circumstances under which you can have your gun rights restored following a felony arrest have been detailed on this blog before. This post will specifically address how you get then back. 

The exact details can be found in Section 18.2-308.2(c) of the Virginia Code of Crimes and Offenses. The petition for the restoration of your gun rights must be filed with your local circuit court. A copy must also be provided to the office of the attorney of the Commonwealth for your local jurisdiction. The attorney's office can then request a hearing to address the matter (you can as well if you feel the need to do so), or it can simply approve the request. 

Issues with a breath test could lead to unfair criminal charges

For most crimes in the United States, defendants receive what is called the presumption of innocence. The courts and everyone else should proceed under the assumption that the defendant has not committed a crime until evidence changes that. Defendants receive better treatment and have less to worry about in terms of juror neutrality due to the presumption of innocence.

Unfortunately, some people do not receive that benefit when facing criminal charges. It is very common for people to simply assume that anyone facing alcohol-related driving charges is most likely guilty. People tend to view roadside sobriety tests and breath test as infallible, when, in fact, they are anything but.

Ignition interlock basics

Residents in Virginia who are arrested for and charged with drunk driving offenses will want to understand the particulars surrounding some of the penalties they may face if they are ultimately convicted of a driving under the influence charge. One of these penalties may be the required installation and use of an ignition interlock device, also commonly referred to as an IID. 

As explained by Virginia's Legislative Information System, a driver ordered to use an IID system must not operate any vehicle that is not equipped with this type of device during their required period of use. The driver must also bear all costs associated with the ignition interlock system. These costs include the purchase or rental of a device, installation and removal of the device and ongoing maintenance or calibration during the time of use. They may also have to pay a fee to the court to cover administrative costs associated with their case.

Juvenile expungements in Virginia

Having a criminal record can be a real hindrance to those trying to make lives for themselves in Roanoke. Imagine just starting in one's adult life and having to deal with such an issue. That is the struggle that many juvenile offenders face. According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, roughly 2553 of every 100,000 juveniles ages 10-17 were arrested in 2016. Once those youths have completed whatever consequences resulted from their actions, how are they to avoid having their past criminal activity become a stumbling block for them in the future? 

In Virginia, they may be automatically qualified to have their records expunged. Per the Virginia State Crime Commission, juveniles who have been adjudicated delinquent for misdemeanors and status offenses will see those infractions stricken from their records as soon as they reach the age of 19. Certain violations of the state's Motor Vehicle code can also be expunged upon reaching the age of 29. Unfortunately, juveniles tried as adults or convicted of crimes that would have resulted in felony charges for adult offenders cannot have their records expunged. The only time a felony arrest can be removed from one's record is if he or she was acquitted of the crime. 

How does the alcohol you drink end up in your lungs?

When referring to drunk driving laws in Roanoke, one number is often repeated: 0.08. This number the blood-alcohol content level recognized almost universally as being the standard at which you are considered legally drunk. Take note of how this test is a measurement of your blood. Yet if and when you are pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence, law enforcement officials do not test a sample of your blood, but rather your breath. How is, then, that the alcohol you drink ends up in your lungs? 

It has everything to do with the composition of the alcoholic compound found in your drinks. Ethanol is a form of alcohol that is water soluble, meaning that it not only dissolves in water, but also can move through membranes in the body. The Alcohol Pharmacology Education Partnership offers a detailed explanation on how the ethanol found in the drinks you consume makes its way in and out of your body. 

Breathalyzer devices often produce inaccurate results

If you only encounter Breathalyzer devices in movies or on TV, you might think that the results they produce are foolproof. This is because they are often presented as "smoking gun" evidence that proves a suspect's intoxication without a doubt.

In reality, there are plenty of reasons to doubt the accuracy of Breathalyzer devices and challenge charges that their results produce. If you face drunk driving charges because an officer administered a Breathalyzer test indicating you were over the limit, don't throw your hands up and assume that there is nothing that you can do. In many cases, there are numerous ways to challenge these results and potentially be acquitted or see your charges dismissed.

Correcting errors in the state's criminal database

When some random guy on the street in Roanoke mistakes you for someone else, it is little more than an awkward inconvenience. When the Virginia state criminal database does, it can be devastating. You need only ask any of those that we here at Robert F. Rider, PLC have worked with to get an idea of how you mistakenly showing up in a criminal database can affect your life. You could be denied housing and/or employment, along with seeing the good reputation that you have cultivated in your community go down the drain. Yet such damage can be repaired. 

Thankfully, the state recognizes that its records are not unassailable, and that if you show up in its criminal database in error, you should be able to have that error corrected as soon as possible. You will, however, have to do a few things in your own. According to the Central Criminal Records Exchange for the Virginia State Police force, the first step is to get fingerprinted. This can be done by contacting any state or local police department or sheriff's office. An official there can document (on official stationary) that he or she has verified your identity and obtained your fingerprints for the purpose of correcting information in the state's criminal database. 

Radar detectors in virginia

Countless Virginians continue to express opinions on the topic of radar detectors, as well as the laws that surround them. After all, Virginia is the only state in the country that prohibits the use of these devices in vehicles. Some believe the restriction on these devices leads to improved safety, while others argue that the the only purpose of this regulation is to maintain revenue through writing tickets.

Other Virginians, as highlighted in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, claim that the legalization of radar detectors could actually make roads safer. Despite failed attempts at repealing the prohibition in 2010 and again in 2015, many Virginians continue to assert that changes in the state's laws are long overdue. Many see radar detectors as a way of finding a loophole in the law, but the use of these devices could allow drivers more time to slow down when necessary. The Times-Dispatch states that allowing drivers to use these detectors would improve safety on all of Virginia's roads. 

Restoring your gun ownership rights

Being arrested and charged with criminal activity can be quite an ordeal. Once you have been through it, your main goal may then be to simply put the pieces of your life in Roanoke back together. Many in your same situation have come to see us here at Robert F. Rider, PLC asking if gun ownership is still an option for them. Their (and your) interest in owning a firearm is understandable (such a right is constitutional); at the same time, you may find such a right (along with many others) to be restricted due to the circumstances surrounding your criminal ordeal. 

Indeed, state and federal laws do prohibit owning a firearm after one has been convicted of a felony. According to the website for the Virginia State Police Force, however, there are scenarios where that right can be restored. The first is if you have been pardoned by the state and its executive order does not place any restrictions on you going forward. The remaining scenarios are: 

  • The state Circuit Court in which you were convicted grants you permission to own a firearm with the endorsement of the Governor or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms 
  • The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms endorses your owning a gun following your having paid your criminal penalties after a felony conviction in federal court
  • The governor in the state in which you were convicted of a felony endorses your owing a gun
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