If you’ve been involved with police concerning driving under the influence, it is important to contact a good DUI defense attorney to discuss your case, because it will give you the information you need to make the best decision on how to handle your situation.`
Public outcry over drunk driving accidents and fatalities have resulted in a progressive tightening of DUI laws around the nation. The result has been a dramatic rise in police enforcement activity, and thankfully a dramatic rise in the safety of our roads. The laws today not only provide for a lower alcohol level being considered illegal to drive with, they also make prosecuting a DUI case much easier for the state. The bottom line is that if a person is charged with a DUI, it is very difficult to beat the charge. A DUI defense attorney should take a look at the evidence in the case before deciding, but the majortiy of DUI cases today are prime candidates for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) if a first offense, or a plea agreement for a lighter sentence if it is the person’s second or more criminal offenses.
If there is a problem with the evidence or procedure used in the arrest, the case may be worth fighting. Here are some requirements the police must meet in a DUI arrest:
The stop must be reasonable-
With the exception of DUI checkpoints, which have their own requirements. The police cannot just pull you over for no reason. The officer needs probable cause to believe that a law is being broken in order to stop your car. Erratic driving, other traffic violations and vehicle issues like burned out lightbulbs are examples of valid reasons to pull a car over. If a DUI arrest stemmed from an improper stop of a vehicle, there is a good chance all further evidence in the case can be held as inadmissible in court.
The officer must have probable cause to believe the driver is intoxicated to investigate further-
Typically, the officer will smell alcohol, or see red eyes, or hear slurred speech, or ask the driver if they have been drinking and be told yes. There needs to be some evidence of intoxication for the officer to move to the next step, the Field Sobriety Test.
The Field Sobriety Test must be administered properly-
Once the officer has probable cause to believe the driver is intoxicated, they administer a test or series of scientific tests to further confirm their suspicion that the driver is intoxicated. Typical tests can involve walking a certain way, reciting the alphabet in a given order, or other standard informal tests used to determine if someone is intoxicated. If the driver passes the tests, that should end the DUI investigation. If the driver fails, most times the officer will give a breathylyzer at the scene, and pass or fail, will probably take the driver for a blood test at the nearest DUI center or hospital. If administered improperly, evidence gathered by the officer after the “failed” test can be held as inadmissable in the later case.
The breathylyzer/blood tests must be administered properly-
These tests are very difficult to challenge, but as we all know, mistakes are made. Fighting a blood result is difficult and expensive, and involves experts who can show flaws in test procedure, sample gathering, or other areas that reuslted in an inaccurate number. Not only that, but technically, the state can win a DUI conviction without chemical test results, but by proving their case in other ways, so even beating the chemical test results is no guarantee of winning a case. In the end, the client and their attorney need to evaluate the case and decide whether a challenge to the chemical testing results makes sense.
If facing a conviction, the penalties are standard-
If the case against the driver is strong, ARD is a great way to keep legal costs and penalties low, be able to clear the record later, and quickly move on with life. To be eligible, it has to be the driver’s first major criminal offense, there can be no major injuries or property damage if there was an accident, and there can’t have been young children in the car at the time. ARD is applied for early in the criminal process, and there is more information about it on the other crimes and offenses page of this site. If ARD is not an option or the application is rejected by the district attorney, the state will usually offer a plea deal along the lines of the minimum standard sentencing guidelines for DUI offenses. Here is a link to the guidelines: http://www.lcb.state.pa.us/cons/groups/alcoholeducation/documents/form/000342.pdf. Every person facing criminal charges has a right to go to trial, but unless the case is weak, plea deals make sense, since a loss at trial will often result in stiffer penalties, depending on the facts of the case and who the judge is. Choosing the right attorney will give a person charged with DUI the best advice as to which is the best option for getting through their case.
If you or someone you know is involved with a DUI incident, please contact my office for a free consultation. We will discuss the case and talk about the best options.
Disclaimer- The content and general legal information on this site is intended for advertising purposes only and is not intended to be specific legal advice. For legal advice, consult with an attorney. Visiting this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. Copyright 2016, The Law Offices of Charles Kendikian, LLC