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Roanoke Virginia Criminal Defense Law Blog

Yielding the right-of-way to pedestrians

When driving around Roanoke, you will inevitably come upon scenarios where pedestrians enter on to the roadway. The general assumption amongst many is that the road belongs to motorists and that pedestrians should keep to the sidewalks everywhere except those areas designated for them to cross. That assumption is largely correct, yet as is the case with many laws, there are exceptions. Many have come to members of our team here at Robert F. Rider, PLC. after having been cited for not yielding the right-of-way to pedestrians wondering how they might challenge such a supposed violation. The key to doing so is understanding when and where you have the right-of-way. 

Per Section 46.2-924 of the Code of Virginia, you (as a motorist) are required to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians at any of the following locations (or in any of the following situations): 

  • At a marked crosswalk whether located mid-block or at an intersection
  • At any pedestrian crossing indicated by the prolongation of the lateral boundary lines of a sidewalk at the end of a block
  • At any intersection where the posted speed limits for the intersecting streets is less than 35 miles per hour

Fighting Breathalyzer test results

If you failed a Breathalyzer test and face drunk driving charges, you might feel that there is nothing you can do to build your defense. Fortunately, this is far from true. Breathalyzers are less dependable measurement tools than many people realize, and many other factors may impact the validity of the results they produce.

No matter how strong you may think the evidence is against you, it is always wise to begin building a strong defense as quickly as you can. The longer you wait to begin this process, the fewer legal options you have, and the more likely it becomes that your charges result in convictions. Protecting your rights is an important responsibility, and you probably have more defensive options than you realize.

What areas of the brain does alcohol affect the most?

When you choose to challenge the drunk driving charges that have been filed against you, the common answer you are likely to receive is that the numbers do not lie. If you registered a blood-alcohol content measurement above .08 on a breath test in Roanoke, that may seem to be all that is needed to prove guilt. Yet the potential inaccuracies inherent in such devices have been detailed on this blog in the past. If you are going to challenge the accuracy of a breath test, then you may need to be able to counter by showing that your actions did not reflect one who was legally drunk. 

Doing this requires knowing the different control centers of the brain and how alcohol affects them. According to The Alcohol Pharmacology Education Partnership, the major areas of the brain affected by alcohol (and the results intoxication produces) are as follows: 

  • Frontal cortex: This controls behavior, which is why alcohol can produce excitation and a loss of inhibition
  • Motor cortex: As the name implies, this coordinates movement, which results in slowed reaction times when affected by alcohol
  • Cerebellum: This area controls balance and coordination, which explains why people who intoxicated often display an unsteady gait
  • Medulla: Also known as the brainstem, this area detects toxins in the blood and sends signals to the stomach to induce vomiting, which often accompanies intoxication
  • Hippocampus: This controls memory, and is inhibited by alcohol from consolidating information, which explains why many have poor memories of being drunk

New impaired driving law

In Virginia and around the country many people might feel they are part of a group that is somehow under siege. This may be related to a social issue like sexual orientation or religious preference or it may be related to someone's status if they have been involved in particular events.

It is known and accepted that driving a vehicle after consuming too much alcohol is unsafe and illegal. However, that does not make driving after drinking alcohol completely against the law. It is perfectly legal to have a casual drink and then drive so long as a person's blood alcohol content remains below the legal threshold. Despite this reality, a person who is accused of drunk driving can feel quite a strong stigma against them, even if their BAC was below 0.08% at the time they were arrested.

Four injured when car strikes highway guardrail

It may be easy for people in Roanoke to simply assume that anyone who allegedly drives after drinking has little thought or care for the safety of others. Of course, such an assumption requires believing that any person suspected of driving under the influence knew of the dangers that they were creating and chose to drive anyway. Oftentimes, that simply is not the case. Rather, one who is accused of DUI may have indeed believed themselves to be lucid enough to drive, or perhaps felt that they had little choice but to drive after attempting to make alternate arrangements. 

A recent crash that occurred in Pennsylvania may serve to show exactly why one might feel compelled to drive (even after drinking). A group of people from Ohio were driving home after having been drinking. While traveling along a state highway early in the morning, the car the group was traveling in left the road and hit a guardrail. Four people (including the driver) sustained serious injuries in the crash and were rushed to local hospitals for treatment; another passenger was able to escape serious injury. A subsequent test administered to the driver showed his blood alcohol content to be well above the legal limit. 

How does alcohol consumption impact your body?

Drinking and driving will not only land you in legal trouble, it may also cause a devastating accident that can injure yourself and other drivers. This has much do with alcohol's complex effect on a person's body, which goes far beyond just diminishing motor skills. Very Well Mind offers the following information. 

Cognitive skills remain impaired for some time

Gun rights in Virginia to be reviewed

Regardless of a person's views on owning and shooting guns or gun rights in general, most people in Virginia are likely to be horrified about the recent shooting that took place in late May in Virginia Beach. The loss of a dozen lives at once is hard for any community to take in and make sense of. However, this event does not necessarily mean that every resident in Virginia will share the same views on how to prevent these events from happening in the future.

As reported by Fox News, the Governor of Virginia has called for a special session of the state legislature to convene next month. The sole focus of that session is to be gun control and gun rights. Virginia is generally considered to be a state in which the protection of residents' constitutional right to own firearms has been protected vehemently, potentially in part because the state is the home of the National Rifle Association.

Filing for an expungement

If you are one of the many people in Virginia who has been arrested for and charged with a criminal offense, you may well have experienced some negative consequences associated with having this event on your permanent record. There are some situations in which you may be able to have details of this event removed, making it easier for you to go forward and rebuild your life in a positive manner.

The legal term for having a criminal record or activity cleared is called an expungement. According to the Code of Virginia, you may be able to request expungement of a particular offense if you were granted an absolute pardon of the crime, were acquitted of the crime or if the charge was dismissed in any way, including if the prosecution abandoned the case. An abandonment by the prosecutor is called

How to avoid police -- and trouble -- on a summer road trip

Taking a road trip in Virginia can be an enjoyable experience, but things can take a turn for the worse if you're pulled over by police.

While this is always a concern, even if you're following the rules of the road, there are steps you can take to avoid police and the associated trouble. Here are several things to keep in mind from the second you get behind the wheel:

  • Practice defensive driving: Aggressive drivers, such as those who are speeding and always changing lanes, are more likely to find themselves in trouble with police. Not only does defensive driving help you avoid legal trouble, but it also lessens the likelihood of an accident.
  • Know the law: From speed limits to no passing zones, it's a must to understand the laws on the roads you're driving. Also, keep in mind that things will change over the course of your road trip, such as the speed limit.
  • Beware of speed traps: Before leaving home, search online for more information on potential speed traps set up along your route. Also, keep an eye out for areas that set up nicely for a trap, such as a stretch of highway where the speed limit quickly changes.
  • Don't act suspicious: You're likely to see more than one police officer on your road trip. If you act suspicious, such as trying to avoid eye contact, the officer is likely to take notice.

Va drivers see increased law enforcement presence during holiday

People hitting the road during the holiday have seen a larger presence of law enforcement on Virginia streets and highways than usual, and that is entirely by design. Authorities in both Virginia and Maryland have augmented patrols in anticipation of projected increased traffic volumes over the three-day Memorial Day weekend.

Authorities in Virginia have noticed an upward trend in the number of traffic fatalities statewide over Memorial Day weekend. The years 2016 and 2017 each saw eight traffic fatalities during that timeframe, while that statistic increased to 11 in 2018.

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