Drivers challenging DUI charges in Virginia Beach will face a prosecutor on the other side of the courtroom beginning June 30.
City Commonwealth’s Attorney Colin D. Stolle says he will staff every driving-under-the-influence case with one of his assistants.
Currently, the arresting officers handle most first offense DUIs without a prosecutor. If a defendant or defense lawyer contends there is a flaw with the case, the officer “has to stand there and take it,” in the words of one defense lawyer.
Having a prosecutor on the case ensures the state can respond to any legal arguments that arise, Stolle said.
Stolle said his goal is to reduce the incidence of impaired driving in a city that leads the state in DUI charges, not to try to improve a conviction rate already above 90 percent.
“If you drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you will be arrested by law enforcement and prosecuted by my office,” he said in a news release.
Virginia Beach defense lawyer Moody E. “Sonny” Stallings Jr. said the change will slow the process.
“It’s going to make it more difficult to win them and it’s going to slow up the process, but if he’s got the resources to do it, more power to him,” Stallings said.
Stolle said general district court officials have agreed to put all DUI cases in one courtroom. “That gives us the ability to have multiple prosecutors there to handle those dockets,” he said. “I do not think it will slow down the docket.”