If you are facing DUI charges in Pennsylvania, you might wonder whether it is possible to get the charges against you dropped. Dismissals of DUI charges sometimes occur with the help of an experienced Montgomery County DUI attorney. Drivers in Pennsylvania who are charged with DUIs might face severe penalties if they are convicted. With the help of a criminal defense lawyer at DiCindio Law, it is possible that you might win the dismissal of your charges or secure a plea agreement to a lesser offense. An attorney might carefully examine the evidence, police reports, body cam video, and lab reports to identify all of the defenses that might be raised to fight your DUI charge.
Drunk or drugged driving charges are harshly penalized in Pennsylvania. The consequences of a conviction can continue long after a sentence is completed. An attorney might help to get the charges dismissed by fighting to have some of the evidence suppressed and challenging key pieces of evidence, including blood or breath test results, standardized field sobriety tests, and others.
Increasing the chances of a dismissal
Some people believe that they will be convicted of a DUI since they were charged and arrested. However, the fact that you have been charged with a DUI cannot be used as evidence against you. It is possible to successfully defend against a DUI charge and to potentially get your charges dropped. This makes it important for you to speak with a qualified criminal defense lawyer before agreeing to plead guilty to a DUI charge. There are several ways to defend against your charges and potentially win a dismissal of the case against you.
Analyzing the validity of the traffic stop
Police officers do not have unlimited power to stop vehicles. Instead, an officer can only pull you over when he or she has reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime or traffic violation. An officer can develop reasonable suspicion from many different things, including erratic driving, weaving, speeding, driving below the minimum speed limit, and others. Officers can also pull people over when they see mechanical issues with a vehicle such as a burned-out brake or headlight, broken taillights, and other similar problems. If the police officer did not have reasonable suspicion to stop your car and simply pulled you over based on your appearance, your attorney can challenge the constitutionality of the stop. If successful, any evidence the police officer gathered following your stop will be suppressed, including any testing that was conducted, the officer’s observations of you, and things discovered in your car. A successful motion to suppress a stop will leave the prosecutor with no choice other than to dismiss your DUI charge.
For example, if you were pulled over because an officer thought you looked suspicious but had not committed any traffic offenses, he or she would not have a valid reason to support the stop of your vehicle. Anything that happened after your stop would not be admissible in court as evidence against you, including observations of you, any blood or breath tests, and your performance on the standardized field sobriety tests. Your lawyer can challenge the stop and potentially win a dismissal of your charges by filing a motion to suppress your stop and any evidence that was subsequently obtained as a result.
Analyzing and challenging the SFSTs
Another possible way to get your DUI charges dropped is by challenging the validity of the SFSTs. These are the tests that officers ask people to perform at the roadside when they suspect that the drivers might be under the influence. The SFSTs include the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the one-legged stand, and the walk and turn tests. While these tests have been standardized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as fairly accurate in determining whether a driver is under the influence, they are also subject to human error. Some of the ways your lawyer might challenge the SFSTs include the following:
- Uneven or broken pavement
- Poor lighting
- Driver wearing heels or sandals
- Improperly explained instructions
- Improperly administered tests
- Underlying medical conditions
Many different medical conditions can cause people to fail the SFSTs. For example, people might have musculoskeletal or nervous system disorders that make it impossible for them to perform the one-legged stand or the walk and turn. Several medical conditions and medications cause involuntary eye movements that can cause people to fail the HGN test. Your attorney might be able to challenge the SFSTs at a motion hearing before trial or during the trial while cross-examining the police officer.
Challenging the breath or blood test results
If you submitted a breath or blood sample that showed your blood alcohol concentration was above 0.08%, there are several ways to challenge the validity of the results. For example, a Breathalyzer machine must be calibrated and properly maintained, and the administrator must have current certification to administer a breath test. Your attorney can ask for maintenance records for the machine and a copy of the police officer’s certification. If the machine was not properly calibrated or maintained, or the officer’s certification was expired, the breath tests can be thrown out.
For blood and urine tests, your attorney can look at how the samples were stored, transported, and analyzed. For blood tests, your lawyer can look at whether the nurse or phlebotomist drew the sample correctly or if he or she cleaned the site with an alcohol wipe. If the prosecutor cannot establish the chain of custody for your blood or urine sample, your BAC results can be suppressed. Depending on the other evidence in your case, suppressing your BAC results could result in a dismissal or a reduction of your charges to a different traffic violation.
Challenging the fact that you were driving
In some situations, the prosecutor might not be able to meet his or her burden of proof that you drove, operated, or were in actual physical control of the vehicle. This type of scenario might happen when a police officer sees a vehicle being driven erratically but loses sight of it until later locating the car in a parking lot with several people standing outside. This defense might also apply if the officer found you sitting in a legally parked vehicle while you were intoxicated but the vehicle was not on. This defense is fact-specific and might include arguments about who was driving or when the vehicle was driven. The prosecutor always has the burden of proof to show that you were the person who drove, operated, or had actual physical control of the vehicle and were intoxicated when you drove the vehicle.
Talk to a DUI lawyer Montgomery County
Working with an experienced criminal defense lawyer at DiCindio Law might help you to secure a better outcome to the charges against you. Depending on the facts of your case, it might be possible for you to win the dismissal of the charges against you. Contact us today to learn more about your options at 610-430-3535.