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Roanoke Virginia Criminal Defense Law Blog

How to talk to your teen about driver safety

If you have a teen driver in Virginia, it is important to have a talk about driver safety prior to handing the car keys over. After all, it is a lot better to prevent accidents before they happen than to have to deal with them after the fact. We here at Robert F. Rider, PLC want you to know that there are specific things you should discuss with your teen driver to help her or him remain safe on the roadways. 

According to The New York Times, automotive crashes are the leading cause of death in teenagers in the United States. By following safety precautions and adhering to the law, accidents can be greatly minimized. Many crashes today are caused by distracted driving actions such as texting. Tell your teen to pull over in a safe location if they need to read or respond to a text. 

Why are some turns illegal to take?

In Virginia, there are several types of turns that could be classified as illegal. Many drivers consider illegal turns to be a relatively small matter. However, the dangers they actually pose can be more severe than you may expect.

FindLaw notes that people often think of illegal U-turns when discussing the topic of illegal turns in general. This is an act in which a driver will take a "U-shaped" turn in order to go back the way they were coming from on an adjacent lane. In some areas, these turns are perfectly legal. In other areas, there are signs posted telling drivers they aren't allowed to make a U-turn. This is because the area in question is too dangerous. Perhaps the concentration of cars is too high, the speed limit is too fast, or the intersection is too complex.

Don’t make one or more of these DUI checkpoint mistakes

It doesn't matter if you're sober or have consumed a few alcoholic beverages, it's possible you could run into trouble at a DUI checkpoint in Roanoke. Fortunately, the right knowledge will help you prevent trouble and move on with the rest of your evening.

Here are five of the most common mistakes drivers make at a DUI checkpoint:

  • Erratic driving: As you approach a checkpoint, officers will watch your vehicle. If you're swerving, braking erratically or moving from lane to lane, you'll look suspicious. This gives the officer more reason to closely examine you as you pull up to the checkpoint.
  • Illegal U-turn: You're permitted to turn around as a means of avoiding a DUI checkpoint, but only if you do so in accordance with the law. If an officer sees you make an illegal U-turn, they can (and probably will) pull you over. Even if you're sober, you could still receive a traffic ticket.
  • Talking back: It's tempting to explain your legal rights, tell the officer they're wasting your time or say something else that comes across as disrespectful. If you do any of these things, you can guarantee the officer will more closely examine the situation.
  • Open alcohol container: There's nothing that says you're intoxicated more than an open alcohol container in plain view. For instance, if you have an open beer can in your cup holder, it will give the officer reason to believe you're intoxicated.
  • Resisting arrest: If you're put under arrest for driving under the influence, follow the officer's orders and remain silent to avoid saying the wrong thing. Once you're processed and released from jail, you can then review the details of your arrest. Resisting will only make things worse, as you could face additional criminal charges.

Penalties for Virginia’s repeat DWI offenders

As a Virginia resident who already has a conviction for driving while intoxicated on your record, you likely have firsthand knowledge of just how much of an emotional and financial toll such a conviction can have on a person. You may, too, recognize that a subsequent DWI charge has the capacity to land you in even more serious trouble. Attorney Robert F. Rider, PLC, understands that penalties increase in severity with each additional DWI conviction, and he has helped many people facing repeat-DWI charges work to minimize the damage the charges cause them.

According to the Virginia Law Library, if you receive a second conviction for a DWI charge, you can anticipate facing some pretty harsh penalties for your actions. Ultimately, though, the repercussions you will face will vary based on how long ago you received your last DWI conviction. If, for example, you receive a second DWI conviction within five to 10 years after your first offense, you can plan on paying at least a $500 fine and spending at least 10 days behind bars.

Push to stop requiring license suspensions makes progress

There are many valuable reasons why courts across Virginia will suspend a person's driver's license. Excessive traffic violations, reckless operating of a motor vehicle and even failure to pay child support are just some of the reasons why peoples driver's licenses are suspended nationwide. However, there are certain groups of people that may experience far more serious repercussions when their license is temporarily taken away. 

In a recent push to change a long-standing law, lawmakers in California have reinstated the licenses of 88,000 people who did not show up to court over fines for various traffic violations. The mayor of San Francisco who played a critical role in pushing for the policy change clarified that the suspensions for people accused of driving dangerously or recklessly stood in place and would not be removed until consequences were paid by those perpetrators. 

Can those convicted of felonies get gun rights back in Virginia?

You may depend on guns for home protection. Marksmanship may be your hobby. You may want to continue a tradition of hunting. Guns are an important part of many aspects of American culture, and having your capabilities impugned upon can be frustrating for various reasons.

Every case is different, but you may have the opportunity to you get your firearms rights back, even if you were convicted of a felony in Virginia. Your chances of success would probably depend on several factors.

Field sobriety tests are not always accurate

It doesn't matter if you've had one drink or several, if you're pulled over for suspicion of DUI in Roanoke there's a good chance the officer will ask you to step outside your vehicle. From there, you'll be asked to take at least one field sobriety test.

There's no denying the fact that a field sobriety test can help an officer determine if you're too drunk to drive. However, you shouldn't assume that these tests are 100 percent accurate.

Reform in the criminal justice system

People in Virginia who are arrested for and ultimately convicted of criminal offenses often want to understand the penalties they may face. In addition to the penalties, people should pay special attention to how they may rebuild their lives once they have served their sentences. For many, this can be made more difficult due to the laws that are in place. Today, many are calling for greater criminal justice reform in part to aid positive reintroductions for people being released from prisons.

Virginia Organizing notes that earlier this year, the State Senate passed a bill that takes a step forward in providing released inmates with a chance to get back on their feet in a positive way. A bill referred to as "Ban the Box" was passed. If it goes into law, it will prevent employers in Virginia from asking job applicants if they have any criminal histories on their first applications. This may allow more people to get further along in the job hiring process before a criminal past must be discussed, thereby increasing their chances of getting a job.

A DUI and your job

Any person in Virginia who is placed under arrest and charged with a suspected driving under the influence arrest needs to learn how the experience may impact their life, regardless of whether they are ultimately convicted or not. For college students or new graduates, the impact may well include their ability to get a job or keep a job offer.

If or how much a single DUI event may affect a person's professional life depends on a variety of factors. As explained by the Houston Chronicle, one of these factors is whether or not the person is convicted of a drunk driving charge. A conviction is certainly a worse event than an arrest without a conviction but not just because of the reputation associated with each one. A conviction may end up sending a person to jail or prison for a period of time and that definitely could make it hard to hold down a job, depending on the length of the incarceration.

Know if your situation qualifies for an expungement

A criminal record can affect many aspects of your life in Virginia and sometimes you may wish this record would disappear so you can have a clean start. In some situations, you may be able to get this start if a court expunges your record. At Robert F. Rider, PLC, we understand the importance of helping you know if this option is open to you.

If you want an expungement, your situation typically needs to meet certain requirements. According to FindLaw, you may be eligible for an expungement if it has been a long time since the incident took place. A court may also look at the rest of your record to examine other offenses and their severity. You may qualify for an expungement if you have few incidents on your record or if the incident took place when you were a minor. Additionally, the nature of an offense determines whether you might get an expungement. A court may be more likely to remove offenses from your record if the incidents are more minor.

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