Drinking and driving offenses in Pennsylvania have evolved. The threshold blood alcohol concentration level is lower today than it was years ago, and the police enforce the state’s drinking and driving laws much more stringently than they did in the past. Multiple parties are involved in the DUI process today, including third-party treatment providers, prosecutors, courts, police, probation departments, and monitoring agencies. DUI cases are complex and involve many moving parts with competing interests. Because of all of the factors and parties involved, it is rare for DUI cases to get dismissed. If you are facing drunk driving charges, working with an experienced attorney at DiCindio Law might help you to secure the most favorable outcome to your case that is available to you under the circumstances.
Why is it rare for a DUI case to be dismissed?
The dismissal rates for DUI cases are difficult to ascertain because they are infrequently reported. At the state level, the procedural rules, regulations, and statutes constantly change. The dismissal rates might appear to be higher because first-time offenders whose cases did not result in damage or injuries might be able to get their cases dismissed by participating in diversion through the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program. However, while you can ask the court to expunge your record after you complete ARD, your records with PennDOT cannot be expunged for a minimum of 10 years.
Prosecutors have a high rate of conviction for DUI cases. This can be partially explained by the great number of drivers who enter guilty pleas without understanding the consequences of doing so. If you plead guilty to a DUI without talking to a lawyer, you might not understand the serious impacts the conviction can have on your life.
How do you get a DUI dismissal?
More DUI cases would be dismissed if drivers hired experienced defense attorneys to evaluate the facts and circumstances leading to their stops, searches, and seizures. Some DUI cases are weak and should never have been filed in the first place. If your case is weak, it doesn’t make sense for you to plead guilty even if ARD is available to you.
A lawyer can analyze what happened and identify the weaknesses that exist in your case. Police officers must follow specific standards when they investigate suspected drunk driving cases. They must respect the constitutional rights of the drivers at all times. A DUI attorney can look at the reasons why the officer stopped your vehicle, how he or she investigated your case, how he or she administered any tests, and how the evidence was collected. The police must establish probable cause for your arrest properly, and the prosecutor must be able to prove every element of the DUI offense against you beyond a reasonable doubt.
While dismissal is an ideal resolution for your DUI charges, your attorney might try to secure an agreement for reduced charges if your case is unlikely to be dismissed. Your attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor to try to secure a plea to a lesser offense with fewer penalties.
Investigating the validity of your traffic stop
To stop your vehicle, an officer must have a reasonable suspicion that you have committed a traffic violation or a crime. Reasonable suspicion can include the officer’s observations of your driving behavior, including speeding, erratic driving, weaving, or others. An officer can have reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle for defects such as a broken taillight. If the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to support your stop, any evidence that was subsequently obtained can be suppressed. If that happens, your charges would be dismissed.
Challenging the results of the field sobriety tests
After a DUI stop, an officer will normally ask you to step out of your vehicle to perform field sobriety tests. These are standardized tests that must be administered in a very specific way. While these tests are relatively accurate in helping officers to detect whether you are under the influence, they are also subject to errors. Your lawyer might review the video of your SFSTs to see if the officer administered them correctly or if he or she made mistakes.
Your lawyer might look at whether the pavement was uneven and if the lighting conditions were poor. He or she might also want to look at the shoes that you were wearing to see if they were improper for performing the tests. Your attorney might check the officer’s instructions to make sure that you were appropriately instructed.
One of the SFSTs, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, involves the officer checking for involuntary eye movements that can be caused by alcohol. However, there are medical explanations other than alcohol that can cause HGN to be present. Your attorney might review your medical history with you to determine whether there might be another reason for your failure of this test and use that information to challenge it. If your case is largely based on your failure of the SFSTs, your charges might be dismissed if your attorney can show that they were not administered correctly and can get the tests excluded from the trial.
Results of chemical testing
It is sometimes possible to challenge the results of chemical tests. If you took a breath test, your lawyer might investigate whether the machine was properly calibrated and maintained. For blood tests, your attorney might review the training of the phlebotomist and whether he or she properly drew your blood. He or she might look at how the sample was stored and sent to the lab to figure out if it might have been contaminated. If your lawyer can successfully challenge the results of your chemical test, it can weaken the prosecutor’s case against you.
Get help from DiCindio Law
While getting a dismissal of your DUI charges is not always possible, getting help from an experienced defense attorney at DiCindio Law might increase your chances of a successful resolution. Michael DiCindio can review your case to identify the potential ways to attack your charges. While he cannot guarantee an outcome, he will work to secure the most favorable resolution available to you. Contact DiCindio Law today to schedule a consultation by 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.