Even though you might have been arrested for a DUI in Pennsylvania, your arrest is not evidence of your guilt. It is possible to challenge your prosecution and potentially get your case dismissed. However, doing so successfully will likely require you to retain an experienced DUI lawyer in Chester County at DiCindio Law. While a lawyer cannot guarantee a specific outcome to you in your DUI case, having strong legal representation might help you to obtain a better resolution to your charges than you might otherwise get. Here are some strategies an attorney might use to help fight your DUI charge.
Evaluating your Stop and Arrest
When you meet with your criminal defense lawyer, he or she will begin by carefully examining your stop and arrest. Police frequently fail to follow proper stop, investigation, and arrest procedures in DUI cases. A skilled attorney can review the evidence in your case to identify the mistakes that the police might have made from the time you were stopped until when you were released from custody.
Police officers are not allowed to randomly stop people based on hunches. Instead, they must have reasonable suspicion that a motorist has committed a traffic violation or crime before they can pull him or her over. This means that an officer cannot pull you over because he or she thought you looked suspicious. Instead, the officer must have a valid reason for pulling you over. If an officer pulled you over without a valid reason, the stop is illegal and might be suppressed. If your stop is suppressed, all of the evidence that was subsequently gathered will also be inadmissible, leaving the prosecutor with no choice other than to dismiss your case.
If the officer pulled you over for a legitimate reason, he or she might initiate a DUI investigation if he or she suspects that you might be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. An officer might develop a suspicion that you are under the influence after stopping you for a different traffic violation. For example, if an officer pulls you over for speeding but smells alcohol on your breath, he or she might then start investigating you for a DUI.
Officers make multiple observations of drivers to determine whether they might be impaired. Some of the things officers look for include the following:
- Bloodshot, watery eyes
- Flushed appearance
- Disheveled appearance
- Dilated or constricted pupils
- Clumsy or slowed motor movements
- Slurred speech
- Rapid speech
- Alcohol containers or drugs in plain view inside of the car
- Inculpatory statements made by motorists
If the officer sees some of these signs, he or she might then ask you to step out of your vehicle and perform some sobriety tests at the roadside. If he or she suspects that you are under the influence of drugs, he or she might call a drug recognition expert to the scene to administer other tests. You are not required to perform these tests. However, if you do, the officers must follow strict protocols for how they are administered. Your attorney can review how these tests were administered and challenge the officer on any errors he or she made while conducting them.
Before an officer can place you under arrest, he or she must have probable cause to believe that you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If the officer did not have enough evidence to support the reason for your arrest, your attorney might file a motion to suppress your arrest. If the motion is successful, your arrest and any evidence gathered after it will be inadmissible against you. This would include any post-arrest chemical tests that you performed. A successful probable cause challenge sometimes results in a dismissal or a reduction of the charges.
Challenging the Chemical Test
When people are placed under arrest on suspicion of drunk or drugged driving, they are transported to the police station or hospital for chemical tests. Under Pennsylvania law, you do not have the right to refuse chemical testing in a DUI case. If you do, your license will automatically be suspended for 12 months for a first refusal or 18 months for a second refusal. Refusing a chemical test will also mean that you will face the most severe penalties if you are convicted of the DUI.
Many people think that chemical tests cannot be challenged. However, an experienced DUI defense lawyer at DiCindio Law knows many different ways to challenge breath, urine, or blood tests.
Some of the reasons why a breath test might not be reliable and accurate include the following:
- The breathalyzer device was not properly calibrated
- Certification of the Breathalyzer device was expired
- Police officer’s certification to administer Breathalyzer tests was expired
- Officer did not wait for 20 minutes after you belched, coughed, smoked, or chewed gum before administering the test
- You have an underlying medical condition that caused a false positive
- The breathalyzer machine was not properly maintained
While blood tests are generally more accurate than breath tests, they can still be challenged. Some of the issues that might be raised include the following:
- The technician cleaned the injection site with an alcohol swab before drawing blood
- The technician was not qualified to draw blood
- The blood sample was stored at the wrong temperature
- Levels of anticoagulants or preservatives were too high and contaminated the sample
- Officers failed to document the entire chain of custody
- The lab analyst performed the testing incorrectly
- Lab analysts misinterpreted the peaks on the gas chromatography
- The sample was contaminated by the standard used for comparison
Talk to an Experienced DUI Defense Lawyer in Chester County
If you were arrested for a DUI, it is still possible to defend against the allegations against you. Contact DiCindio Law today for an evaluation of your case by calling us at 610.430.3535.