What To Do About A DUI Charge While Serving In The Military

What To Do About A DUI Charge While Serving In The Military

If you serve in a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, being charged with a DUI can result in serious consequences. Military service members who are charged with DUIs on or off base could result in consequences in both civil court and within the military. If you are charged with a DUI while driving on a military base, you could be court-martialed. Even if your DUI happened off of the base, your commanding officer can also punish you separately for misconduct in addition to any penalties you might receive in civilian court. Military service members who are facing DUI charges should talk to an experienced Montgomery County DUI attorney at DiCindio Law as soon as possible for help with defending against their cases. DUI cases can result in severe consequences for military service members.

Jurisdiction for military DUI cases

Unlike other offenses such as desertion, military courts do not exclusively have jurisdiction over DUI offenses. This is because a civilian court might also have jurisdiction over a DUI offense based on its location. If both civilian and military authorities file DUI charges, they will normally coordinate with each other to determine how the military service member will be prosecuted whether in the military court or the civilian court. However, it is possible for you to face charges in both the civilian and military courts for your DUI. Even if your DUI charges are dismissed by a civilian court, you can still face penalties from the military based on the DUI incident, including being court-martialed. Whether the civilian court has jurisdiction will normally be determined by whether your arrest occurred on base or off base.

Off-base DUI offenses

If you are arrested for a DUI while you are off-base as a military service member, you will likely be charged in civilian court and not the military court. However, your commanding officer might initiate administrative penalties against you, including the following:

  • Require you to undergo alcohol treatment
  • Require you to undergo corrective training
  • Revoke your pass privileges

You might also have DUI charges filed against you by the military after your civilian DUI case is over.

Military DUI consequences

Military service members who are charged with driving under the influence on base will be subject to how their commanding officers choose to proceed. Your commanding officer might issue an Article 15 against you, which gives him or her the authority to decide whether or not you are guilty and to determine the consequences. The penalties for an Article 15 finding of guilt are lower than for a conviction obtained through a court-martial. If your commanding officer finds you guilty of drunk driving through an Article 15 process, you will face the following potential penalties:

  • Reduction in rank
  • Fine equal to two-thirds of the basic pay for one month
  • Up to eight days of confinement
  • Reprimand or admonition
  • Serving extra duty for up to seven days
  • Restrictions for up to seven days
  • Corrective training
  • Mandatory substance abuse training

Your commanding officer can also recommend you to face a court-martial and take other administrative actions. If you are found guilty at a court-martial, you could forfeit some pay, have your grade reduced, be imprisoned, or be dismissed from service and be barred from re-enlisting. If you have two alcohol-related serious incidents within one year, you can face being separated from the military.

How do I find a criminal defense attorney near me for help with a military DUI?

If you are facing DUI charges as a military service member, the consequences can be severe and impact both your life and your career. For help with a civilian DUI charge, contact a DUI lawyer in Montgomery County at DiCindio Law today by calling 610-430-3535.

Refusing DUI Tests: Can You Avoid the Penalty?

Refusing DUI Tests: Can You Avoid the Penalty

People who drive in Pennsylvania with blood alcohol concentrations of 0.08% or higher might be arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. After you drink alcohol, it is metabolized and enters your bloodstream. Some of the alcohol also goes to your lungs and leaves your body on your breath. Police officers might test you for the presence of alcohol or drugs by asking you to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test after your arrest. While you might think it could help your defense by refusing a chemical test, you could face more serious penalties by doing so than if you submit to the test. Here is some information about what can happen if you refuse to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test from DiCindio Law.

Penalties for refusing a chemical test in Pennsylvania

All drivers in Pennsylvania are deemed to have given their implied consent to chemical testing to determine whether or not they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you are arrested on suspicion of a DUI, the police officer will ask you to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test.

If you refuse to take the test, your driver’s license will be suspended for at least 12 months or longer. If your license has previously been suspended for refusing a chemical test, the suspension period will be 18 months. Your license will still be suspended even if you are ultimately acquitted of a DUI or are not charged with drunk driving. This is because refusing a chemical test is a separate offense in Pennsylvania.

Without a chemical test, the police can rely on other ways to prove that you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. They can testify about their observations of your driving, your appearance, your speech, and your motor movements. In some cases, these types of observations might be sufficient for the prosecutor to secure a conviction regardless of the absence of chemical test results. Even if your BAC test results show your BAC was higher than 0.08%, it is still possible for your attorney at DiCindio Law to challenge them and potentially win a motion to suppress them from the evidence against you.

Implied consent laws in Pennsylvania

Like other states, Pennsylvania has implied consent laws. Under these laws, you are deemed to have impliedly consented to chemical testing when you drive your vehicle on the state’s roads, streets, and highways. Implied consent laws are in place to ensure that people will consent to chemical tests and are based on the idea that driving in the state is a privilege instead of a right.

If you have been stopped because a police officer suspects that you are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, refusing chemical testing will not necessarily help you to avoid a conviction. The prosecutor can use the fact that you refused chemical testing as evidence against you in your DUI case. You can also face penalties for both the refusal and for a DUI if you are convicted. People who refuse chemical tests in Pennsylvania also face the penalties for the highest BAC DUIs, which are more severe than the penalties for a general impairment or high BAC DUI. If you are convicted of a DUI after refusing a chemical test, you will face the following penalties for a first offense:

If you are convicted of a DUI after refusing a chemical test, the suspension of your license for the conviction will be separate from the suspension for refusing chemical testing and could run consecutively to it. When you submit to a chemical test, your BAC might also be lower than 0.16%, which is the BAC used for charging the highest BAC DUI. This means that consenting to a chemical test might mean that the penalties you might face if you are convicted might be lower than if you refuse the test.

Blood tests and the implied consent law

In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court held that police must secure warrants before they can administer blood tests in Birchfield v. North Dakota. In the same case, the Supreme Court found that breath tests do not require warrants. The court made the distinction between breath and blood tests because blood tests pose a greater intrusion on privacy while breath tests do not. In the case, the Supreme Court said that refusing warrantless blood tests cannot be criminalized.

In 2017, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed a DUI conviction of a man who had been pulled over on suspicion of DUI in Commonwealth v. Gaetano. In that case, the attorney argued that the man’s consent for a blood test was involuntary based on the officer’s coercion. When the officer gave the O’Connell warnings about the consequences of refusing, he told the man that refusing a blood test would result in a license suspension and other penalties. The court sent the case back to the lower court to determine whether his consent was voluntary or not.

Get help from a DUI lawyer in Montgomery County

If you are facing DUI charges in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, a conviction could result in serious penalties. Having a DUI on your record could make it more difficult to find certain types of jobs. If you refused chemical testing, the penalties you might face could be more severe.

Michael DiCindio at DiCindio Law is a skilled Montgomery County DUI attorney and former prosecutor. He knows how the prosecution works to build their cases against people who are facing DUI charges. This provides him with a unique insight and allows him to more readily identify strong defenses to the charges against his clients. Call us today to request a consultation at (610) 430-3535.

How to Increase Chances of Getting DUI Dropped or Dismissed

How to Increase Chances of Getting DUI Dropped or Dismissed

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.

Is It Legal To Avoid A DUI Checkpoint In Chester County, PA?

If you turned around and were stopped, your attorney will review whether the police had reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle. Contact us today to request a consultation by calling DiCindio Law at 610-430-3535.

Police in Pennsylvania sometimes set up DUI checkpoints to try to catch people who are driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you see a checkpoint in Chester County, you might think that you must drive through it. However, avoiding a DUI checkpoint is not illegal as long as you do so in a legal way and before you enter it. Here is some information about DUI checkpoints and avoiding them from a West Chester DUI lawyer at DiCindio Law.

Avoiding DUI checkpoints is legal

In Commonwealth v. Scavello, 734 A.2d 386 (Pa. 1999), the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania held that avoiding a DUI checkpoint does not provide reasonable suspicion for the police to stop your vehicle. In that case, the driver completed a legal U-turn to avoid a checkpoint before he entered it. He was then stopped by a police officer for avoiding the checkpoint. The officer then found that the driver had been drinking and was a minor and charged him with a DUI and underage drinking. However, the Supreme Court found that legally avoiding a DUI checkpoint did not provide reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle as long as the defendant did not commit any traffic violations when turning around and had not entered the sobriety checkpoint before trying to avoid it.

If you spot a DUI checkpoint before entering it, you can lawfully turn around or turn off in a parking lot or side street to avoid it if doing so is safe. However, the police watch for people avoiding DUI checkpoints. An officer might follow your vehicle and watch for you to commit any type of driving error to have reasonable suspicion to pull you over based on that and then investigate you for a DUI.

If you do violate a traffic law when you turn around, an officer will likely pull you over. Officers can pull people over when they have reasonable suspicion that they have violated a traffic law, and committing a traffic offense to try to evade a DUI checkpoint would qualify.

Are DUI checkpoints legal?

In 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court found that DUI checkpoints are constitutionally protected as reasonable searches and seizures in Michigan v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444 (1990). The court found that even though the police do not have to develop reasonable suspicion before stopping people at DUI checkpoints, the benefits to the public outweigh the constitutional harms. This decision means that the police are allowed to stop you at a DUI checkpoint when you move through it. Police officers typically set up DUI checkpoints so that vehicles are guided through them. It is often hard to avoid a DUI checkpoint once you have spotted it.

What rights do you have at a DUI checkpoint in Chester County?

If you have no other choice but to drive through a DUI checkpoint, you should remember that you still have constitutional rights. You do not have to answer any questions beyond giving your name. You also do not have to consent to the officer’s request to search your vehicle. When the officer signals for you to pull over, follow his or her directions. Have your driver’s license, registration, and insurance card ready to hand him or her through the window. While you might feel nervous, do not think that you can talk your way out of being arrested if you have been drinking. It is best not to say anything that could potentially incriminate you, and the police can and will use the statements you make against you if you are charged with a DUI.

The police might try to convince you that you are required to consent to a search simply by being in a DUI checkpoint. However, this is not true. Politely refuse and ask for them to get a warrant before they can search your car. You might also be told that you must submit to the standardized field sobriety tests and blow into a portable breath test device at the side of the road. However, you are not required to perform the SFSTs or submit a PBT sample. Be respectful and polite, but do not allow the police to coerce you into doing things that could be incriminating.

If you are arrested, the state’s implied consent law states that you do not have the right to refuse chemical testing of your blood, urine, or breath. However, the breath testing that is performed post-arrest is done with a machine at the police station and is not the PBT. When you are taken into custody, assert your rights to remain silent and have a criminal defense lawyer represent you.

How to avoid being arrested at a DUI checkpoint

There is one sure way to avoid being arrested for a DUI at a checkpoint after you have been out for a night of drinking. Instead of getting behind the wheel of your car, ask the bar or restaurant for permission to leave it parked in the parking lot overnight. Call a cab or use a ride-share app to hail a ride and get you home safely. You can always take a ride-share car the next day to retrieve your car. Taxi or ride-share fares are much less expensive than fighting a DUI charge.

Get help from an experienced West Chester DUI lawyer

If you have been arrested for a DUI after driving through a DUI checkpoint, that does not necessarily mean that you will be found guilty of the offense. With the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer at DiCindio Law, you might be able to successfully defend against the case filed against you. Your attorney can carefully analyze how the DUI checkpoint was set up and operated to determine whether any mistakes were made. If you turned around and were stopped, your attorney will review whether the police had reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle. Contact us today to request a consultation by calling DiCindio Law at 610-430-3535.

What Are My Chances of Beating a First Offense DUI Case?

What Are My Chances of Beating a First Offense DUI Case?

How likely is it that my first DUI charge will be dismissed?

When you are facing a DUI charge in Pennsylvania as a first offense, you might wonder whether you have a good chance of getting the charge against you dismissed. Your ability to get a dismissal will depend on the facts and circumstances and how quickly you can establish a strong defense against any test results or identify problems with how the police conducted their investigation of you.

Facing DUI charges is serious. Many people who are charged with first-offense DUIs do not fully understand how serious they are until after they are convicted. Since the facts and circumstances vary from case to case, a criminal defense lawyer at DiCindio Law cannot give you an exact percentage of your chance of beating your first DUI charge and keeping your license until he has the chance to review the reports and evidence against you.

While a DUI lawyer in Chester County cannot guarantee the outcome of your DUI case, you should keep in mind that it is not impossible to win a criminal case. Working with an experienced defense attorney can increase your chances of winning a dismissal and avoiding the penalties you might otherwise face.

Defenses to DUI charges

Many people facing DUI charges as first offenses think that being charged means that they will be found guilty. Some of them enter quick guilty pleas when they might have beaten their charges with the help of a defense attorney. The defenses that might be available will depend on the facts of what happened. Some of the potential defenses include the following:

  • The officer did not have reasonable suspicion to support your stop.
  • The officer administered the standardized field sobriety tests incorrectly.
  • Results from a breath test were inaccurate because of various issues.
  • There are problems with the chain of custody for your urine or blood sample.
  • Your blood test results are inaccurate because of storage problems or processing errors.
  • The officer did not have probable cause to search you or your vehicle or to arrest you.
  • You have witnesses who can testify that you were not intoxicated.
  • You were not observed for 20 minutes before the breath test was administered.

Many other defenses might be available to you, depending on the facts of your case. Your attorney can review the evidence and discuss the options that might be available in your case.

Will entering a guilty plea to a first DUI offense give me a better chance of a lighter sentence?

It is generally not a good idea to plead guilty to a first DUI offense without talking to an attorney. Pennsylvania has a three-tiered sentencing structure for first-offense DUIs based on your blood alcohol concentration. If you plead guilty to the DUI, you will face the penalties provided by the law for people with your BAC level. An attorney might be able to secure a plea to a lesser offense or win an outright dismissal of the charges against you.

If your attorney believes that you are unlikely to beat your DUI if you go to trial, he or she can still try to negotiate the charge down to a lesser offense such as a traffic violation or reckless driving.

Your BAC is important in determining the possible outcome of your DUI charge. If your BAC was at or near to the legal limit, you might be able to challenge it, especially if there was no evidence of bad driving. Your attorney can also challenge the BAC results by reviewing how your test was administered, whether the machine was properly calibrated, or whether your blood sample was stored or transported improperly. If there were issues with these types of things, your attorney might be able to secure the dismissal of your DUI case.

If the officer did not have a reasonable suspicion to support the stop of your vehicle, your case could be thrown out. Police officers must have reasonable suspicion to believe that people have committed traffic offenses or crimes before they can pull them over. If the officer instead pulled you over based on a hunch, your appearance, or some other factor, the court might suppress the stop and all of the evidence collected against you. If this happens, the prosecutor would have no choice but to dismiss your case.

Get help from a DUI lawyer in Chester County

If you have been arrested for a first-offense DUI in Chester County, it is important for you to talk to an experienced DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible. At DiCindio Law, we can discuss what happened and explain the defenses that you might be able to raise. Contact us today to schedule a consultation by calling us at 610-430-3535.

First Offense DUIs in Chester County, Pennsylvania

First Offense DUIs in Chester County, Pennsylvania

Being arrested and charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania for the first time can be scary. If you are facing a DUI charge as a first offense, you might have serious concerns about what might happen to you. You may not have any previous experience dealing with the criminal justice system and feel overwhelmed. When you retain an experienced DUI lawyer in Chester County at DiCindio Law, your attorney can guide you through the criminal court process and defend you against your charges. Below is some general information about what you might expect when you are charged with a first-offense DUI.

How Pennsylvania handles first DUI offenses

There are several ways you can be charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802. You can be charged with a DUI if you drive, operate, or have actual physical control of a vehicle when you have ingested a sufficient quantity of alcohol to render you physically incapable of safely driving. Pennsylvania also has a per se DUI offense in § 3802(a)(2). Under this subsection, you can be charged with a DUI per se if your BAC tests at 0.08% or higher within two hours of driving, operating, or having actual physical control of a vehicle.

Courts give different penalties for DUI offenses based on the person’s BAC level as shown by chemical tests of blood, breath, or urine within two hours of arrest. CDL drivers, bus drivers, and minors will face higher penalties even when their BACs are lower than the state’s per se limit.

The three DUI levels for first offenses in Pennsylvania include the following:

The penalties increase as the BAC increases.

First offense general impairment DUI penalties

Under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3804, the penalties for a first general impairment DUI conviction include the following:

  • Ungraded misdemeanor
  • Six months of probation
  • $300 fine
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • Alcohol assessment and comply with any treatment that might be ordered

First high BAC DUI penalties

A high BAC DUI has more severe penalties than a general impairment DUI. If you are convicted of this offense, you will face the following penalties:

  • Ungraded misdemeanor
  • Minimum of 48 hours in jail up to a maximum of six months
  • Fine ranging from $500 to $5,000
  • 12-month suspension of your license
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • Substance abuse assessment and comply with treatment if ordered

First highest BAC DUI penalties

The highest BAC DUI carries the most severe DUI penalties of the misdemeanor offenses. If you are convicted of a first highest BAC DUI, you will face the following penalties:

  • Ungraded misdemeanor
  • Jail from a minimum of 72 hours up to a maximum of six months
  • Fine from $1,000 up to $5,000
  • 12-month suspension of your driver’s license
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • Substance abuse assessment and comply with any treatment that is ordered

If you refuse a chemical test of your breath, blood, or urine, you will also face the penalties for the highest BAC DUI. People whose chemical tests reveal that they have any amount of illegal drugs or prescription drugs for which they do not have a valid prescription will also face the penalties for the highest BAC DUI offense.

Penalties for minors for first-offense DUIs

If you are younger than age 21, you will face stiffer penalties for a first DUI. Pennsylvania has a zero-tolerance DUI law for minors, which means you can be convicted of a DUI if you have a small amount of alcohol in your system. If you are convicted, you will face the penalties that adults who have a high BAC receive as previously listed.

Penalties for commercial drivers for first-offense DUIs

Commercial drivers who drive trucks can be charged with a DUI when they have BACs of 0.04%. Bus drivers have an even lower limit of 0.02%, which is equal to drinking around one beer. Commercial drivers who are convicted of first-offense DUIs will face the penalties for a high BAC DUI even when their BACs are lower than the range for general impairment DUI offense. Since this means that you will also lose your license for 12 months, a conviction could threaten your career.

Penalties for a first DUI with a minor under 18 in the vehicle

If you had a minor in your vehicle under the age of 18 at the time of your DUI arrest, you will face more serious penalties. The penalties for first DUI offense with a minor in your vehicle include the following:

  • First-degree misdemeanor
  • Fine from $1,000 to $5,000
  • 18-month suspension of your driver’s license
  • 100 hours of community service
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • Other penalties, depending on your BAC

The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program

Pennsylvania offers the ARD program to certain DUI offenders. In some cases, participating in ARD is a good way to avoid DUI penalties as a first offender. To qualify for ARD, you must not have prior criminal convictions. If you are accepted, you will be required to complete community service, rehabilitation, and any treatment that the court might order. Once you successfully complete the program, you can petition the court to have your record expunged. This can help to reduce the impact a first DUI offense might have on your life.

Get help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer

First offense DUIs in Chester County are treated seriously. When you work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer at DiCindio Law, your attorney might identify defenses to raise against the charges against you. Contact DiCindio Law today by calling 610.430.3535 to schedule a case evaluation.

How Do I Challenge A DUI Blood Test In Chester County, PA?

How Do I Challenge A DUI Blood Test In Chester County

If you have been charged with a Pennsylvania DUI after submitting to a blood test, you might think that you will be found guilty based on your results. However, blood tests are not infallible even though most people believe that they are. There are several ways to challenge the results of chemical testing of blood. A good DUI lawyer in Chester County at DiCindio Law understands the various ways to challenge a blood test to potentially get the results dismissed. Here are some ways your criminal defense lawyer might be able to challenge a DUI blood test.

Challenging procedural errors

Multiple errors can occur when blood samples are drawn, stored, and transported. Your attorney will carefully review the circumstances and procedures used to determine whether you might be able to challenge the results based on improper handling, contamination, storage, or when the blood was drawn.

There is a two-hour window after your arrest within which blood samples should be drawn. If your sample was drawn outside of that window, the results might not be reliable. The person who drew your blood must be someone who has the proper certification to do so. If the person who drew your blood was not certified, the test might be inadmissible in the case against you.

A common error that sometimes happens is when the person drawing your blood uses an alcohol-based wipe to sterilize the site of the blood draw. While nurses and phlebotomists commonly sterilize injection sites, doing so when blood is being drawn for a DUI test can contaminate your blood sample and cause the test to show a higher concentration of alcohol in your blood than what it actually was. Your lawyer can ask for information about how the injection site was sterilized, and you have the legal right to receive information about it during discovery. If an alcohol pad was used to prepare the injection site, or you cannot get an answer from the police officer, you might be able to challenge your blood test results.

Storage is another issue. Your blood sample must be properly stored before it is transported to the forensic lab. If it was stored improperly and allowed to ferment, the results could be unreliable and inadmissible.

The chain of custody is another area to explore for potential blood test challenges. After your blood sample is taken, the police are supposed to document where it is at and whose custody it is in at every step as it makes its way to and from the forensic lab. If there are holes in the chain of custody, the prosecutor will not be able to admit your blood test into evidence. This is because the prosecutor must show the chain of custody to the court before a blood test result will be admitted.

Laboratory problems

Even if your blood sample was drawn, stored, and transported correctly, problems can still happen once it reaches the forensics lab. Your attorney might ask for maintenance and certification records for the equipment used to analyze the blood sample. Blood samples are analyzed using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, which requires the analysts to measure the blood sample against a known ethanol standard. The vials must be brought to equal room temperature. If the analyst uses a pipette to place the blood sample and the standard into separate vials for testing, it is possible that he or she could inadvertently contaminate the blood sample.

Some labs have high error rates. For example, in 2013, a lab with a history of problems revealed in an audit resulted in 900 defendants in Orange County, California being notified that their blood samples might be inaccurate. Your attorney can carefully review everything. If it appears that an error might have happened in the lab, your blood test results might be tossed out of court.

Cross-examination

Defendants have the right to cross-examine all of the witnesses who are called to testify against them in court. However, a good cross-examination requires careful preparation. Your lawyer will question the parties involved about their qualifications and certifications, including the police, phlebotomist or nurse, the lab analyst, and any others who might be called by the prosecution. Your lawyer may also compare the police officer’s field notes and written report with his or her testimony and challenge any discrepancies. Some officers write similar things in nearly every report even though each DUI case is different. Police officers also sometimes exaggerate or embellish what happened when they are on the stand to try to help the prosecutor to secure a conviction. By challenging the officer based on his or her own written notes, reports, and video evidence, your attorney might show significant doubt exists about what actually happened. When there are discrepancies about what actually happened and what is stated in court, juries and judges are unlikely to find the witnesses credible.

Get help from a DUI lawyer in Chester County

If you have been charged with a DUI after submitting to a blood test, you might be able to challenge the results and secure a more favorable outcome to your case. In some cases, if a blood test is deemed to be inadmissible, the prosecutor might not have enough evidence to prove the case against you and be forced to dismiss it. In others, an inadmissible blood test might result in a plea offer to a lesser offense. To learn more about your case and how we might be able to defend you against your charges, call DiCindio Law at 610-430-3535.

Defenses to DUI and DWI Charges In Chester County, PA

Defenses to DUI and DWI Charges In Chester County, PA

Being charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania can be a frightening experience. If you are facing DUI charges, you might be scared about the consequences you might face. While the penalties for DUIs in Pennsylvania are severe, it is possible to defend against your charges with the help of an experienced West Chester DUI lawyer at DiCindio Law. When you meet with your attorney, your lawyer will carefully review the police reports, video, lab reports, and other evidence to identify the potential defenses that might be available to you. Some common defenses to DUI charges are described below.

Common types of defenses to DUI charges

The particular defenses that you might raise to a DUI charge will depend on the facts and circumstances of your stop, investigation, search, and arrest. Your West Chester DUI lawyer will determine the best defense strategies to use to secure the most favorable outcome possible in your case.

  1. Absence of impairment

Under 75 Pa.C.S. 3802(a)(1), you can be charged with a DUI when an officer believes you have ingested enough alcohol that your driving is impaired. While the state’s DUI per se limit is 0.08%, this subsection means that you can be charged with a DUI even when you have less alcohol in your system. An officer might arrest you and charge you with a DUI even when you are not impaired based on his or her observations of you.

For example, an officer might believe that you are under the influence of alcohol when your eyes appear bloodshot and your face is flushed. He or she might also arrest you if you appear unsteady on your feet or show indicators on a horizontal gaze nystagmus test. However, these types of observations might be explained by medical conditions, including musculoskeletal disorders, allergies, conjunctivitis, inner ear problems, glaucoma, and others. If you submitted to a breathalyzer test that returns a result showing that you had not drunk anything or that your BAC level was much lower than 0.08%, your attorney can present evidence showing that the officer’s observations of you can be explained away by other conditions you might have.

  1. Unconstitutional stop

Officers cannot randomly pull people over unless they have set up a DUI checkpoint and operate it correctly. Otherwise, an officer must have a reasonable and articulable suspicion that you have committed a traffic offense or a crime before he or she can stop your vehicle. If your attorney determines that the officer had no reasonable suspicion to support the stop of your vehicle, your lawyer can file a motion to challenge it in court. If this type of motion is successful, all of the evidence the police gathered as a result of the stop will not be admissible against you. This would mean that the prosecutor would likely be forced to dismiss your case.

  1. Lack of probable cause

Before an officer can arrest you and charge you with a DUI, he or she must first have probable cause to believe that you are under the influence. Officers try to build probable cause through their observations of you during your traffic stop. If the officer did not have enough evidence to support a probable cause finding, your attorney can challenge your arrest in court. If successful, all of the evidence the police gathered after your arrest would be inadmissible, including your post-arrest breath or blood testing. This could result in a dismissal of your charges or a plea to a lesser offense.

  1. Improper DUI checkpoint

While DUI checkpoints are legal in Pennsylvania, they must be set up and operated according to specific guidelines and standards. Police must notify the public of the checkpoint in advance and must set it up in an area where intoxicated drivers are known to be. The checkpoint’s location cannot be changed once it has been agreed upon. Police must also use a pre-determined system for stopping vehicles going through the checkpoint instead of randomly stopping people they believe look suspicious. If you were arrested at a DUI checkpoint, your attorney will carefully examine whether it was set up and operated correctly or if you can challenge it.

  1. Improper chemical test administration

Breath and blood tests are not infallible and are instead subject to administrator errors. The equipment must be certified and properly maintained to provide reliable results. The test administrator must also have current certification to administer the tests and must follow specific protocols. If your attorney finds that the machine was not calibrated correctly or was not properly maintained, your breath or blood test results can be challenged. Your results can also be challenged if the administrator failed to follow proper protocols. Finally, if you had a blood test, your attorney might review how the sample was collected, stored, and sent to the lab. If there were any mistakes made or if the chain of custody cannot be established, your blood test results might be inadmissible.

  1. Wrong person

The prosecutor must prove that you were the person behind the wheel to convict you of a DUI. If the police arrived after you and others exited your vehicle and did not see who was driving, your attorney might challenge your DUI charge by calling witnesses and presenting evidence that you were not the person operating the vehicle.

  1. Improper SFST administration

Police ask people to submit to standardized field sobriety tests when they suspect that they might be under the influence of alcohol. You have the right to refuse to submit to these tests at the roadside. However, if you do submit to them, your attorney will review the video to see whether the police administered them properly. This can help your attorney to cross-examine the arresting officer in court and point out errors that he or she made.

Get help from a criminal defense attorney near me

Being charged with a DUI does not mean that you will be convicted. With the help of an experienced DUI defense attorney at DiCindio Law, you can determine the best defenses available to you in your case. Contact us today to request a consultation at 610-430-3535.

 

Penalties For 1st, 2nd And 3rd DUI In West Chester, PA

Penalties For 1st, 2nd And 3rd DUI In West Chester, PA

In Pennsylvania, the criminal justice system treats DUIs harshly. If you have been charged with a DUI, the penalties you might face will depend on your blood alcohol concentration within two hours of driving, whether or not you refused chemical testing, whether or not you are charged with driving under the influence of drugs, and whether or not you have prior DUI convictions within the past 10 years. DiCindio Law is prepared to defend people who are facing DUI charges in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania’s three-tiered penalty system

Under 75 Pa.CS § 3802, Pennsylvania has adopted a three-tiered penalty system for DUIs based on your BAC at the time of your arrest. These different levels include a standard DUI for people with a BAC of 0.08% to 0.09%, a high BAC DUI for people with a BAC of 0.10% to 0.1599%, and a highest BAC DUI for people with a BAC of 0.16% or higher. The penalties for these offenses will depend on whether you have previous DUI convictions within the past 10 years.

Penalties for a first-offense DUI

The penalties you might face for a first DUI conviction will depend on your BAC level and whether other aggravating factors are present. For a first-offense standard DUI with a BAC from 0.08% to 0.099% or a lower amount if your driving was substantially impaired, you will face the following penalties:

  • Misdemeanor
  • Minimum of six months of probation
  • Fine of at least $300 plus surcharges and assessments
  • Drug and alcohol assessment
  • Comply with any recommended treatment
  • Alcohol highway safety school
If your BAC was between 0.10% and 0.1599% for a first conviction, you will face the following penalties:
  • Misdemeanor
  • Minimum mandatory 48 hours in jail
  • Fine from $500 to $5,000
  • 12-month license suspension
  • Substance abuse assessment and comply with any treatment recommendations
  • Alcohol highway safety school
If your BAC was 0.16% or higher, you refused chemical testing, or you were under the influence of drugs, a first offense will carry the following penalties:
  • Misdemeanor
  • Minimum mandatory 72 hours in jail up to six months
  • 12-month suspension of your license
  • Substance abuse assessment and comply with recommended treatment
  • Alcohol highway safety school

Penalties for a second-offense DUI in Pennsylvania

The penalties for a second DUI conviction within 10 years are more severe. If you are convicted of a DUI and have one prior DUI within the last 10 years, your penalties will be stiffer and will also depend on your BAC within two hours of your arrest.

For a second DUI conviction of a general impairment DUI, you will face the following penalties:
If you are convicted of a high BAC DUI as a second offense within 10 years, you will face the following penalties:
  • Second-degree misdemeanor
  • Jail from 30 days up to six months
  • Fine from $750 to $5,000
  • 12-month suspension of your driver’s license
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • 12-month installation of an ignition interlock device in your vehicle at your expense
  • Substance abuse assessment and comply with any treatment that is ordered
If you are convicted of the highest BAC DUI as a second offense within 10 years for drugs or based on your BAC, you will face the following penalties:
  • First-degree misdemeanor
  • Prison from 90 days up to five years
  • 18-month license suspension
  • Fine from $1,500 up to $10,000
  • 12-month ignition interlock installation
  • Substance abuse assessment and comply with any treatment that is ordered
  • Alcohol highway safety school

Penalties for a third DUI conviction in Pennsylvania

If you are convicted of a third DUI within 10 years, the stakes are a lot higher. For a third general impairment DUI offense, you will face the following penalties:
  • Second-degree misdemeanor
  • 10 days up to two years in prison
  • 12-month license suspension
  • Fines from $500 up to $5,000
  • Substance abuse assessment and comply with treatment recommendations
  • 12-month ignition interlock device installation at your own expense
If you are convicted of a third high BAC DUI within 10 years, you will face the following penalties:
  • First-degree misdemeanor
  • Prison from 90 days up to five years
  • 18-month license suspension
  • Fine from $1,500 up to $10,000
  • 12-month ignition interlock device installation at your expense
  • Substance abuse assessment and treatment if ordered
  • Alcohol highway safety school
If you are convicted of the highest BAC DUI offense as a third conviction within 10 years, you will face the following penalties:
  • Third-degree felony
  • Prison from one to seven years
  • 18-month license suspension
  • 12-month ignition interlock device installation at your expense
  • Fine from $2,500 up to $15,000
  • Substance abuse assessment and comply with treatment if ordered
  • Alcohol highway safety school

A fourth general impairment or high BAC DUI conviction within 10 years is also a third-degree felony. If you are convicted of a DUI with a minor in your vehicle, it is a first-degree misdemeanor for the first or second offense. If you have two prior DUI convictions, it is a felony of the third degree.

Talk to a DUI lawyer West Chester

The penalties for DUIs in Pennsylvania are severe. If you are facing DUI charges, you should not try to represent yourself. With the help of an experienced DUI lawyer in Chester County at DiCindio Law, you might receive a plea offer to a lesser offense or win the dismissal of the charges against you. Contact us today for a consultation by calling 610-430-3535.

 

What Is a Controlled Substance?

What is a controlled substance? Certain medications and drugs are controlled under both Pennsylvania and federal law. In general, a controlled substance is a drug that is illegal unless it is prescribed. These drugs can harm your health, leading state and federal governments to regulate them. If you are caught with a controlled substance for which you do not have a valid prescription, you can face penalties, including prison time and fines.

Possessing a controlled substance is not always illegal. However, certain controlled substances are always illegal. You can learn whether a particular controlled substance is illegal by looking it up in the controlled substance schedules. If you are charged with the unlawful possession of a controlled substance, an experienced drug crimes attorney at DiCindio Law is available to help you defend against your charges.

The federal controlled substance schedules

Under federal law, controlled substances are those that are listed in the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which includes schedules of drugs in five categories. Schedule I drugs are considered to be unsafe, have high abuse potentials, and are not recognized as having any accepted medical uses. Some examples of drugs that are classified in this schedule include LSD, heroin, ecstasy, peyote, and marijuana.

Schedule II drugs are drugs that have a high potential for abuse and that can cause physical or psychological dependence while also having some limited medical benefits. Some examples of drugs in this category include hydrocodone, methadone, oxycodone, opium, codeine, amphetamine, and methamphetamine.

Schedule III drugs are drugs that can cause a moderate level of physical dependence and a high level of psychological dependence but a lower potential for abuse. These drugs may have a recognized medical benefit and might be prescribed. Some of these drugs include suboxone, anabolic steroids, Tylenol with codeine, and ketamine.

Schedule IV drugs are drugs that may be prescribed and that have a lower abuse potential than the drugs found in Schedule III. These include drugs like Xanax, Ativan, Valium, Restoril, Klonopin, Soma, and Halcion.

Schedule V drugs primarily consist of preparations that contain limited amounts of narcotics such as cough syrups with codeine.

While it is illegal to possess any of the scheduled drugs without a prescription, it is not illegal when you have a valid prescription and have purchased the prescribed drug. If you have a prescription and have purchased one of the listed controlled substances, you cannot be prosecuted for possessing it.

The penalties that you might face for possessing controlled substances will depend on the type of drug that you possessed and the amount that was involved. It will also depend on whether you are charged under state or federal law. For example, if you are convicted of possessing 100 grams or more of cocaine in Pennsylvania, you will face a minimum sentence of four years in state prison up to a maximum of seven years. If you are charged with possessing 100 grams up to 499 grams of cocaine under federal law, you will face up to 20 years in prison. You can be prosecuted under both state and federal law for possessing substantial quantities of drugs with the intent to deliver, and your intent to deliver can be inferred when you possess a larger amount than what would be deemed to be for personal use.

Understanding the law that applies

Since the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 is a federal law, criminal cases that are prosecuted under it go through the federal court system. Pennsylvania has its own law called the Controlled Substances, Drugs, Device, and Cosmetics Act. Cases that are prosecuted under it go through the state criminal court system.

Federal laws preempt state laws. However, Pennsylvania and other states do have flexibility in how they enforce the CSA. Most states have adopted the Uniform Controlled Substances Act of 1973 and do not conflict with the CSA.

For marijuana, it remains illegal under the CSA. Pennsylvania has passed a medical marijuana law and allows people to possess medical marijuana for limited medical reasons. Recreational marijuana use is still illegal, however.

Controlled substances crimes

The CSA makes it illegal to do any of the following with counterfeit or controlled scheduled drugs:

  • Distribution, including importing, exporting, or trafficking
  • Manufacturing drugs
  • Possession with the intent to distribute, dispense, or manufacture
  • Dispensing drugs
  • Conspiring or attempting to do any of the above actions

These actions are interpreted vary broadly. Possessing a drug that is listed in the controlled substances schedules can be prosecuted and punished with imprisonment or a fine. The state laws in Pennsylvania vary and depend on the type of drug, the amount that is possessed, and the specific action in which you are alleged to have engaged. Possessing counterfeit controlled substances can also be prosecuted.

Contact an attorney at DiCindio Law

Understanding what is considered to be a controlled substance is important. If you are facing criminal charges for possessing a controlled substance, you should talk to a criminal defense lawyer at DiCindio Law as soon as possible. An attorney can help you to understand the potential penalties that you might face and help to design defense strategies to protect your rights. Contact us today to schedule an appointment by calling us at 610.430.3535.