person-signing-paper-gavel-scales-of-justice-law-booksA DUI charge and a DUI conviction are not the same thing. If you are convicted of drunk driving in Virginia, you face significant fines, license suspension, mandatory alcohol education programs, and potential jail time. However, you won’t face any penalties if the DUI charges against you are dismissed.

Understanding What a Motion to Dismiss Is in a Virginia DUI Case

A motion to dismiss is a written request made by your DUI lawyer to the court seeking the dismissal of the DUI charges against you. This motion asserts that legal grounds justify the case being dismissed entirely or certain aspects of it being excluded. 

This motion cannot be filed in all DUI cases. Valid legal arguments and evidence must support a motion to dismiss. 

The court clerk will schedule a hearing once your lawyer files the motion to dismiss. Your lawyer and the prosecutor will present arguments and evidence at the hearing. The judge will then decide whether the case should be dismissed or scheduled for a trial.

Common Grounds for a Motion to Dismiss a DUI Case

The prosecutor must prove that you drove when your blood alcohol content (BAC) was above the legal limit in Virginia. If the prosecution does not have enough evidence to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, your DUI defense lawyer may file a motion to dismiss.

For example, a motion to dismiss may be filed if there was an:

  • Unlawful stop. If the police officer lacked reasonable suspicion or probable cause to pull you over, it may be considered an unlawful stop. If the stop was invalid, any evidence being used against you could be suppressed and lead to the case's dismissal.
  • Illegal search and seizure. Law enforcement officers must follow strict procedures when conducting a search and seizure. They must have a warrant or your consent to search your vehicle. If your attorney determines that the police violated your Fourth Amendment rights by conducting an illegal search or seizure, they can file a motion to dismiss. 
  • Inaccurate breath or blood test. The prosecutor will use a breathalyzer or blood test results to show you were intoxicated when driving. However, these tests are not infallible. Errors can occur during their administration or interpretation. Your attorney can challenge the accuracy and reliability of these tests by examining factors such as the qualifications of the administering officer or the maintenance records of the testing equipment. A successful challenge to these test results can significantly weaken the prosecution's case and provide grounds for dismissal.
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