You have been arrested for driving under the influence in Pennsylvania – and you are terrified of the consequences. You know that you can lose your license and that jail is a possibility. DUI is a serious charge, however your attorney will have several ways to defend you.
Possible Lines Of Defense
Depending on the circumstances of your case, these are some of the possible defenses:
- You were not impaired
After the police pull you over, they will be looking for indications that you are impaired. For example, they will be observing whether your eyes are bloodshot or if your face is flushed. But what if your bloodshot eyes were due to allergies or your face was flushed because you were running a fever? The police may have proceeded to administer a field sobriety test based on a false assumption.
- The stop was not legal
The Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution stipulates that you have protection from unreasonable government searches and seizures. The Pennsylvania Constitution also provides similar protection. Under the law, you can have three kinds of interactions with the police: consensual encounters, investigative stops and arrests.
An investigative stop gives police the authority to stop your vehicle if they have a reasonable suspicion of criminal actions such as drunk driving. The police must follow the limits of what they are allowed to do in an investigative stop.
If the stop was not legal, or they had no reasonable suspicion of criminal actions, then the evidence the police obtained during it will not be admissible in court.
- They had no legitimate reason to stop you
To stop you for drunk driving, the police must have probable cause that you are committing the crime of DUI. In other words, they must have legitimate reasons to have pulled your over. If they did not have those factual reasons to back up their actions, then they should not have stopped your vehicle. The evidence the police obtained during the stop will not be admissible in court.
- The DUI checkpoint did not meet standards
A DUI checkpoint has to meet specific standards and guidelines to be legal. For example, the checkpoint has to be in an area where there are known to be intoxicated drivers, police can’t change a location on-the-fly that was agreed on by supervising officials and the roadblock must be clearly marked. Your lawyer will carefully check to make certain these rules were adhered to.
- The test was administered incorrectly
Breath, blood and urine tests administered to measure your BAC must be taken properly and correctly to be valid. The equipment used must be approved for testing and in good working order. If there is an irregularity in the device or the way the test was taken, the results may be inadmissible.
In 2013, a Pennsylvania court case ruled that many breathalyzers used by Pennsylvania police can’t be considered accurate. Now that the admissibility of results from Intoxilyzer 5000 breathalyzers – used widely by Commonwealth police — has been called into question, breathalyzer results are now being challenged in Pennsylvania DUI cases.
- The test equipment was not calibrated properly
Devices used to test breath and blood must be calibrated properly to produce reliable results that will stand up in court.
- You were not the driver
If you were not actually driving the vehicle, then, obviously, you can’t by convicted for DUI. The prosecutor will have to prove you were actually the one behind the wheel. If the police arrived when you and the others riding with you were not in the car, and they did not actually observe who was driving, they can’t simply go with their assumptions when they testify in court about who was the driver. If you were not the driver, your attorney will obtain the evidence and witnesses to prove it.
- The police report had inaccuracies
Police reports are well known for exaggerating the facts to prove the case that you were drunk. When the case goes to court, the officer will usually draw chiefly on their report as the basis for their testimony. When your attorney obtains the report during discovery, he or she will go over it carefully for errors.
If the case goes to trial, your lawyer will pounce on any discrepancies to discredit police testimony. If the police officer who arrested you filed a report with inaccuracies or misleading statements, their case will not stand up in court. The police have to back up their reports with the facts, and if, for example, their video dash cams dispute their report, your case may be dismissed.
How A Lawyer Will Help
When you are up against DUI charges, you need an attorney who will stand by you every step of the way, work hard to discredit any evidence – and work with you to determine your best course of action.
Pennsylvania DUI Law
DUI is described and defined under The Pennsylvania Code under Title 75, Chapter 38. Read the code here.
Questions? Contact us today.
Based on the evidence, Fienman Defense will try to get your DUI charges dismissed or lowered. Should the case go to trial, we will fight to present the strongest defense possible for your situation.