People who are arrested for DUI offenses normally are not provided with complaints by the arresting officers. A complaint is a document that lists the charges against people who are charged with crimes. Typically, an officer will wait until blood test results arrive or wait to file the complaint even though a breath test was administered. Instead, you might be told that your summons will be mailed to you when you are released from custody. The summons to appear tells you when to appear in court for your preliminary hearing and may not be mailed to you for several weeks after you receive the complaint. In some cases, a couple of months might pass before a driver receives the summons to appear and the complaint. If you have been arrested for a DUI, an attorney at DiCindio Law can explain what to expect next.
What happens when someone is arrested for a DUI?
When people are arrested for DUI offenses, they are transported to the police station and will be asked to submit to a breath, urine, or blood test. Breath tests use machines to analyze the amount of alcohol contained in a person’s breath. If the officer wants to obtain blood samples, the person will be transported to a hospital so that a phlebotomist or nurse can draw it. For blood testing, two vials of blood are drawn and sent to a laboratory. The analysis of blood samples can take three or more weeks, and the blood test results will not be provided until the analysis is completed.
Police officers rarely ask people to provide urine samples. However, an officer might request a urine sample for a DUI offense in which the officer suspects that drugs might be involved.
When you drive in Pennsylvania, you are considered to have given your implied consent to chemical testing when you are asked to do so by an officer. However, police officers still need to establish probable cause to arrest you and to take you to the police station to test your breath or to the hospital to get blood samples.
After your release from custody
After you are released from custody, you will be mailed a summons to appear and a complaint. Instead of waiting to talk to an attorney until after you receive these documents, it is a good idea to get help from a lawyer as soon as possible after your arrest. This will give your lawyer more time to conduct an initial investigation. Interviewing witnesses soon after the event occurred might help to make certain that they remember things accurately. If an accident happened, getting pictures of the scene and the damage can be important.
Time for the complaint and summons
In some cases, the complaint will be filed in court before the lab results return. In these cases, the prosecutor will disclose the blood test results during the preliminary hearing. The summons and complaint are typically mailed to defendants within 15 to 30 days after their arrests.
The preliminary hearing
The summons to appear will provide you with the court name, court date, and the time for you to appear at your preliminary hearing. This hearing gives your lawyer the chance to talk with the arresting officer and the prosecutor. In some cases, the officer might agree to withdraw the complaint or some of the charges. The preliminary hearing also gives your lawyer the chance to question the officer and other witnesses that the prosecutor might call at the hearing. The preliminary hearing is held to allow the prosecutor to present evidence establishing probable cause to believe that the DUI charges occurred. Establishing probable cause doesn’t require nearly as much evidence as what a prosecutor has to present at a jury or bench trial. If the court finds that the prosecutor has established probable cause, the case will be scheduled for further proceedings.
Attorneys may contact the police officers before the preliminary hearing to find out what the blood test results are. Many times, the police officers do not return the calls. However, if a lawyer can learn what the results are before the preliminary hearing, he or she can explain the potential penalties for the DUI offense based on the client’s BAC level. In Pennsylvania, there are three tiers for DUI offenses that are based on your BAC level. If you are convicted for a DUI offense, your breath or blood test results will determine the penalties that you will face. The highest BAC offense level or drug DUIs will carry much greater penalties than lower-level DUI offenses.
Blood test results might not be available on the date of the preliminary hearing. This can happen when the police officers send the samples to the state lab instead of a private lab for analysis. When this happens, a lawyer might ask for the preliminary hearing to be rescheduled for a later date. The attorney might try to reach the police officer before the scheduled hearing date to find out whether the blood test results are back so that he or she can request a continuance from the court if necessary.
Get help from an experienced lawyer at DiCindio Law
If you are arrested based on an officer’s suspicion that you were driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, you should get legal help. An experienced DUI defense attorney might begin working on your case before the preliminary hearing. Depending on the facts and circumstances, it is possible for a lawyer to get the officer to withdraw the complaint before the preliminary hearing. You should not wait to contact an attorney until the complaint and summons arrive in the mail. When you do this, you prevent your lawyer from taking important initial steps in investigating your case. Contact DiCindio Law today to schedule a consultation so that you can learn more about your case and what to expect by calling our firm at (630) 430-3535 or by filling out our contact form.
The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes to the law that may be relevant. The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments or the most complete legal issues for all cases These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. It is intended solely for informational purposes.