Located in Kanawha County, Zerbe & Pence fights for its clients throughout the State of West Virginia
DUI (Driving Under the Influence) and DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) Charges in West Virginia can carry significant penalties and fines, including incarceration. These penalties can result in the loss of driving privileges and the loss of employment. Zerbe & Pence PLLC has successfully defended drivers who have been arrested for DUI/DWI in West Virginia for over 40 years combined. Defending a DUI/DWI case in West Virginia requires advanced knowledge of the testing methods utilized by law enforcement.
Read more about the breath test, field sobriety tests, DUI drugs, penalties, and license revocation. See how the experience of Zerbe & Pence can provide a strong defense for you!
A breath test is routinely conducted if you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) in West Virginia. You are likely familiar with the Intoximeter EC/IR II. This device is utilized by law enforcement officers in West Virginia after a DUI arrest to determine an individual’s blood alcohol content (BAC). Contrary to what you may have heard, breath-testing devices, like the Intoximeter EC/IR II, are not without flaws and routinely produce inaccurate results in DUI cases.
For example, symptoms associated with diabetes, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), liver disease, heartburn, asthma, or other illnesses have historically enhanced the results of breath test machines in West Virginia. The same is true for some types of chewing gum, breath mints, and cough syrup. Only seasoned DUI defense lawyers, like those at Zerbe & Pence, can successfully challenge the results of the breath test in West Virginia.Prior to the administration of the Intoximeter EC/IR II test, law enforcement officers are required by West Virginia law to hold the subject under constant observation for a period of at least 20 minutes to ensure no foreign substance is introduced into the mouth of the subject. Otherwise, the breath test result is inadmissible.
In a DUI case in West Virginia, police officers are the individuals designated to administer the breath test. However, law enforcement officers typically receive minimal training about how the machine actually functions. A good DUI defense attorney can determine whether the officer in your case followed protocol and properly administered the breath test.
If you disagree with the results of the breath test after being arrested for DUI, you have a right under W.Va. Code 17C-5-9 to request a blood or urine test. In fact, under W.Va. Code 17C-5-10, the State is required to initially cover the cost of the test if you are unable to pay for the test at the time of your arrest for DUI.
Every case is different and every DUI lawyer is different. You want a DUI lawyer with the most experience, the best reputation and most importantly, the ability to get you the best result. If results matter to you, call Zerbe & Pence today for a free consultation!
Field Sobriety Tests
In West Virginia, if an officer has reasonable grounds to believe a driver is DUI or impaired, he may request that the driver perform field sobriety tests. In West Virginia, field sobriety tests are voluntary. There is no criminal or administrative penalty for refusal of field sobriety tests during a DUI investigation.
Field sobriety tests are divided attention tests that require an individual charged with DUI to follow instructions and perform physical maneuvers requiring balance and coordination. According to NHTSA, an individual with a BAC above .08 g/dL will have difficulty performing these standardized tests.
In West Virginia, the most common field sobriety tests utilized are the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test, the Walk and Turn Test, and the One Leg Stand Test. Numerous reasons exist as to why an individual may struggle with field sobriety tests other than intoxication or impairment. For example, these tests are routinely administered late at night to individuals who are tired and frightened with the consequences of a DUI arrest fresh on their mind. Medical conditions, including pre-existing injuries and weight, can impact the field sobriety test results.
If you have been arrested for DUI in West Virginia and performed field sobriety tests, it is crucial that you contact an attorney right away to explore all possible defenses to the allegation of the arresting officer. The DUI Lawyers at Zerbe & Pence have certified training in field sobriety tests and are ready to put their skill and knowledge to work for you!
DUI drugs have caused law enforcement officers throughout West Virginia to crack down on drivers perceived to be impaired by controlled substances. Many believe that in order to be arrested for DUI with drugs or controlled substances in West Virginia, an individual must have taken some type of illegal substance. It may surprise you to learn that a driver can be arrested for DUI simply for driving after taking prescribed medication.
In defending against a DUI with drugs charge, it is critical that you be proactive in your defense. For example, upon release from custody, securing an independent blood or urine test immediately following the arrest can be a useful tool to prove the amount of drugs or controlled substances consumed was not enough to cause impairment. Often, law enforcement officers in DUI cases never take the appropriate steps to secure blood or urine test samples.
Law enforcement officers throughout the State are being certified as Drug Recognition Experts (DRE) trained to secure evidence in DUI cases. In cases involving DUI with drugs or controlled substances, it is imperative that you contact an attorney skilled in DRE tactics to defend you.
Zerbe & Pence are just the attorneys you need when you face DUI drug charges.
DUI penalties in West Virginia, following a DUI arrest, include the both the filing of a criminal charge and a separate administrative action against your driver’s license. Depending on the circumstances, you may also face potentially harsh fines and jail time.
Don’t let a DUI arrest define you or your future! The attorneys at Zerbe & Pence can minimize your exposure to the consequences of a DUI arrest.
A first offense DUI arrest in West Virginia is a misdemeanor and, if convicted, requires a $100 to $500 fine and up to six months in jail. If your BAC is above .15g/dL, then the charge is considered “aggravated” and the penalties increase to $200 to $1,000 fine and two days to six months in jail.
For second offense, the DUI penalties increase to $1,000 to $3,000 fine and six months to a year in jail. A third offense DUI is considered a felony and, if convicted, requires a fine of $3,000 to $5,000 and one to three years in jail. Additional criminal charges and penalties may be applied against drivers accused of fleeing, who inflict injury, or cause death as a result of a DUI. If you are facing enhanced charges based upon an arrest for DUI, it is critical that you seek legal advice from a competent DUI lawyer right away.
In West Virginia, there is no additional criminal penalty for refusing a breath test. However, refusing a breath test at the police station could result in an additional charge against you at the DUI License Revocation Proceeding.
Do not let a DUI arrest result in the loss of employment, your driver’s license, or more importantly, your freedom. The attorneys at Zerbe & Pence can guide you through this difficult period and help you avoid the stigma and consequences related to DUI penalties.
DUI License Revocation
DUI license revocation may be pursued, in addition to criminal charges, as a separate administrative action against your driver’s license. This will ensue following an arrest for DUI in West Virginia. After your arrest, you can expect to receive a certified letter from the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles. The letter explains that unless you request a hearing, your license will automatically be revoked. If you receive an Initial Order of Revocation from the WV DMV, it is critical that you contact Zerbe & Pence to discuss your options.
In order to prevent your license from being suspended after 30 days of receipt of the certified letter from DMV, you must request an administrative hearing timely and appropriately. Upon request of an administrative hearing, the pending revocation of your license will by put on hold so that you can drive lawfully.
In 2010, the West Virginia Legislature created the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) and vested it with the jurisdiction to conduct and rule upon DUI license revocation proceedings. In order to prevail in an administrative license revocation proceeding, you need an attorney who is knowledgeable about the rules and procedures employed by OAH. The attorneys at Zerbe & Pence know what it takes to prevail in an administrative license revocation proceeding and are available for a free consultation!
If the OAH issues an order revoking your license and you do not timely request a hearing, your license will be revoked. In order to secure a valid license, you must pay a reinstatement fee and complete the safety and treatment course, which is an alcohol education class designed to reduce repeat offenders.
For first offense DUI with alcohol, the revocation time is six months, which can be reduced to three months upon completion of the Safety and Treatment Program. Alternatively, your license will be revoked for 15 days, followed by the 120-day participation in the West Virginia Interlock Program.
For aggravated DUI with alcohol, the penalty is 45 days revoked, followed by 270 days of mandatory participation in the West Virginia Interlock Program. Participation in the Safety and Treatment Program is also required.
For a second offense DUI with alcohol within the last 10 years, the revocation period is one year followed by two years participation in the West Virginia Interlock Program.
For third and subsequent offense DUI in the last 10 years, your license will be revoked for one year, followed by one year of participation in the West Virginia Interlock Program for each prior DUI in the last 10 years. For both second and third DUI offenses, participation in the Safety and Treatment Program is mandatory.
The penalty for refusing a secondary breath test in West Virginia is one year revoked or, alternatively, 45 days revoked followed by one year of participation in the West Virginia Interlock Program.
For those accused of driving under the influence of controlled substances or drugs, the penalty for first offense is six months. This can be reduced to three months upon completion of the Safety and Treatment Program. For a second offense, the revocation time is 10 years, which can be reduced to five years upon completion of the Safety and Treatment Program. For a third offense, the revocation time is life, which can be reduced to 10 years upon successful completion of the Safety and Treatment Program.
Additional penalties exist for circumstances involving injury, death, minors, or failing to render aid.
If you have received an Order of Revocation from the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles, it is important that you contact Zerbe & Pence right away!