DUI Law in Virginia and Melendez-Diaz

Many people—and unfortunately many attorneys—consider a DUI to be a simple charge. To the uninitiated, it may appear that there is no way to beat a DUI. The defendant generally had been drinking, and the breathalyzer usually indicated as much. Is that the end of the story? Not hardly.

Among the myriad of tools that an aggressive DUI defense has in his tool box is the recent Supreme Court decision in United States v. Melendez-Diaz. At first blush, Melendez-Diaz has nothing to do with DUI litigation. In fact, the case deals with the requirement in drug cases that the state produce live testimony from technicians from the laboratory instead of printed laboratory reports to show the chemical makeup of suspected narcotics.

The basis for this holding is that every American has the right under the 6th Amendment to "confront witnesses against him" in a criminal prosecution. Essentially, the state cannot print out a report from a mysterious lab technician and then present that report as evidence at trial without the defendant having the opportunity to cross examine the technician who conducted the actual testing. That being said, for decades previous to Melendez-Diaz, that is exactly what was done.

So what does all this have to do with DUI law? Well, if you have recently been charged with DUI, you should have in your possession a green piece of paper with "Department of Forensic Science" printed at the top of the page. There is a complex series of statutes that governs the admissibility of this document, most of which have been recently enacted in response to Melendez-Diaz. An aggressive and informed criminal defense attorney knows that there are ways to fight the admissibility of this document based upon the 6th Amendment and Melendez-Diaz, depending upon the circumstances.

Do not accept the admission of this document as a foregone conclusion. Hire a lawyer who is willing to attack this document to keep it out of the court's consideration. Contact us right away. We are here to help!

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