If you are arrested for a DUI in Pennsylvania, the police officer will write a police report. The officer’s report will document your arrest and the evidence against you. Normally, officers prepare their reports immediately after they arrest people for DUI offenses. After they write their reports, the officers submit them to the prosecutor’s office and the court. The report will also be sent to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. If you are facing DUI charges, you will want to get a copy of the police report. DiCindio Law can review it with you and explain your options.
Importance of the police report in DUI cases
The police report is among the most important documents in a DUI case because it contains the arresting officer’s observations of you and the circumstances that led to your arrest. When an officer testifies in a DUI case, he or she can ask for permission to refresh his or her recollection with the report. In most cases, officers testify to what is in their reports. If they deviate, it can harm the state’s case against you.
What is included in a DUI police report?
The police report in your DUI case will include information about what led the officer to pull your vehicle over, the stop itself, and observations that the officer made to make him or her that you were impaired by alcohol or drugs. Often, the police reports contain just enough information to justify your arrest and to result in a conviction.
The police report will contain the officer’s report about your driving, your appearance, your speech, any odors, and the results of any field sobriety tests that were conducted. The officer’s observations about your driving will be what led him or her to pull you over such as weaving, speeding, driving too slowly, or other indicators of impairment. Typical observations about people’s appearances in DUI reports include such things as watery, red eyes, a disheveled appearance, and others. The officer might note that he or she smelled alcohol on your breath or that your speech was slurred.
DUI police reports include a checklist for the various field sobriety tests, including the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk-and-turn, and the one-legged stand. Horizontal gaze nystagmus is a twitch of the eye at an angle of less than 45 degrees. The officer will use a pen and ask you to track it with your eyes as it is moved from side to side to look for this indicator. If it is observed, the officer will note it in the DUI report.
The officer’s report of your performance on the other standardized field sobriety tests will also be included. If the officer questioned you, he or she will include the answers that you gave to his or her questions. Finally, the officer will include information about the chemical tests that were administered and include a printout of the results. If you took a preliminary breath test at the roadside, a printout of it will be included. If the officer administered a breathalyzer test to you at the police station, the results will be included together with the machine’s serial number. Lab reports will be included if you submitted to a urine or blood test.
What should you look for in a DUI police report?
Officers sometimes exaggerate the facts in their DUI reports to make defendants appear worse than they were. For example, the officer might say that you slurred your speech, had a disheveled appearance, had red eyes, and struggled to get your license out of your wallet to hand to the officer. Even if these statements are untrue, it will be difficult to fight them on your own. An experienced DUI defense attorney at DiCindio Law might challenge the report by contesting the accuracy and validity of the following things:
- The blood, breath, or urine test results
- Whether the field sobriety tests were conducted properly
- The reason for your stop
- Probable cause for your arrest
If you are able to call strong witnesses or have other evidence such as video or photos that contradict information that is contained in the officer’s report, it can be helpful. If your lawyer is able to prove that the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to pull you over or failed to build sufficient probable cause for your arrest, some or all of the evidence against you may be deemed inadmissible. This can result in the dismissal or reduction of your charges.
Getting a copy of the police report
In most cases, you will not be able to see the police report until your first court appearance. Once the case is filed against you, your lawyer can request a copy of the police report as a part of the discovery process.
Contact DiCindio Law
When you are charged with a DUI, that does not mean that you will be found guilty of the offense. Police officers sometimes make mistakes when they stop vehicles, complete observations, and place people under arrest. An experienced DUI defense lawyer at DiCindio Law can review the police report and the evidence to identify any issues with how the stop, search, and seizure were conducted. Your lawyer can also examine the testing that was performed to identify any issues with the machine or the lab tests that were used. Contact DiCindio Law today to schedule a consultation by filling out our online contact form or calling us at 610.430.3535.
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.