Motion Hearings in Virginia DUI Cases 

A motion is a request on the part of one party or the other to have the court perform some act or order something. For a lot of those motions, the court will require a hearing to determine whether or not the request has merit. That hearing is called a motions hearing. Motion hearings in Virginia DUI cases are one way that your attorney can gather or suppress evidence, bolstering your case. If you have been charged with a DUI, speak with a distinguished DUI lawyer that can file motions, gather the necessary evidence, and build your case.

Discovery Motions

In some instances, motion hearings in Virginia DUI cases are not required. A discovery motion generally will result in an order being signed by all parties and agreed to by all parties, thereby eliminating the need to have a hearing as to whether or not the motion for discovery has merit. A motion to compel discovery is a motion where attorneys ask the court to sign an order that requires the government to give discovery to the defense. It is the most common way that defense attorneys get discovery in criminal cases. When filing a motion to compel discovery, the person files a motion with the court, and 99 times out of 100, the court will sign an order that requires the government to give that person discovery.

Contested Motions

However, there are going to be contested motions in DUI cases, for example, a motion to suppress. A motion to suppress is when the defense asks the court to exclude evidence from the government’s case, based upon a supposed violation of the constitution during the course of the government’s investigation.  An example of that might be if a police officer did not have a reasonable, articulable suspicion under the Fourth Amendment to stop the vehicle that was being operated by the defendant. If the attorney believes that there is a chance that the police did not have a reasonable or articulable suspicion to stop a person’s car or probable cause to place that person under arrest, a lawyer will often file a motion to suppress in their case.

Under those circumstances and motions, the court will often require motion hearings in Virginia DUI cases, to argue the merits of that motion. Most of the time that motion will be heard on the same day as a trial, so a person is not required to come back multiple times. Some jurisdictions will have a person do a motion on a separate day from their court date. It depends on the jurisdiction.

What Is the Motion to Suppress Evidence?

A motion to suppress is when attorneys challenge the constitution or some elements of the police investigation. If the court agrees that there was a constitutional violation in the investigation, evidence obtained thereafter is suppressed or inadmissible at the government’s case in chief for it at the trial. That means if attorneys can establish that the officer lacked reasonable, articulable suspicion to stop a car, then any evidence obtained after that is inadmissible, which means no testimony about the test that that person took at the station or about that person’s BAC. In other words, if a person wins a motion to suppress on the stop, the person wins the case.

Similarly, if a lawyer makes a motion to suppress based on the Fourth Amendment claim that the officer lacked probable cause to place the person under arrest, any evidence obtained by the government after that arrest is inadmissible or suppressed, which means no testimony about the blood or breath test that took place that resulted in that person being charged with a DUI. The person wins.

Additional Motions That Can Be Filed During a DUI Case

When a person is arrested for a DWI and they have either refused to take a breath test or provided a breath test that resulted in a finding of BAC of 0.08 or higher, the operator’s license under Virginia law is administratively suspended for a period of time. The statute that authorizes the government to take the license for that time creates a window in which the defendant can file a motion with the court to try to get that license back. To get one’s license back, they have to file this motion, come to court, and prove that the government did not have probable cause to place that person under arrest.

If the court agrees that the government did not have probable cause to place that person under arrest, the court will overturn that administrative suspension and that person will be able to get their license back. It is important to know that the government lacking probable cause at a hearing or motion to return an administratively-suspended license has no bearing on the criminal case that would be before the court later in the DUI.

What Happens Once a Motion is Filed

Generally, once a motion is filed in a Virginia DUI case, the government has time to respond. Most of the time, they do not respond to a motion. For example, if a person files a motion to suppress, they almost never file any written response to that. Rather they just wait until to the case is in court to respond with whatever they think is the correct interpretation of what happened. Once the motion is filed, generally the clerk will set that motion for a hearing date.

For 99% of the cases, especially in general district court, a motion to suppress can be set for the same day as the trial. Generally, the government does not respond to motions to suppress or other motions in court in writing. They respond orally at the time of the hearing. If you want to know more about motions and motion hearings in Virginia DUI cases, get in touch with a knowledgeable DUI lawyer who can answer your questions.