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When you’re facing a DUI charge, having the right Pennsylvania DUI lawyers by your side can make the difference as you prepare for your defense. A DUI lawyer can help you defend against the charges of DUI in the best possible way. You may have defenses that you aren’t familiar with. An experienced attorney can help you prepare valid defenses and fight for your rights under Pennsylvania law.
Working as your Pennsylvania DUI lawyers begins with conducting an investigation. It’s not enough to assume that the police conducted a proper investigation. They may have violated your constitutional rights. If the police violate your constitutional rights, you can raise the issues with the court and ask them to suppress the evidence against you. The police must have a valid reason to stop your vehicle to investigate. They must have more than just a suspicion, and they may not act on stereotypes. In addition to having suspicion to stop your vehicle, the police must have probable cause to conduct field sobriety tests or conduct a chemical test.
The police may make errors in your case that call your case into question. They may not interview all witnesses. They may not conduct field sobriety tests using verified protocols. The experience of a trained Pennsylvania DUI lawyer can make the difference to help you spot these issues and raise them in your defense.
You may raise your defenses at trial as you argue your innocence to the jury. On the other hand, if there are constitutional issues to discuss, it may be necessary to file a motion with the court in advance to ask the court to address the evidence. You might need to hire an expert witness in order to explain technical information to the jury like breath testing information or how field sobriety tests work. You might use questions about the evidence in your case in order to ask for a favorable plea offer from the state’s attorney.
In Pennsylvania, the penalties for your DUI offense depend on your bodily alcohol content and your criminal history. If your blood alcohol content is low and you have no prior offenses, your offense is an ungraded misdemeanor that results in probation and a fine. The penalties become significantly more serious as you face a second and third offense. With prior offenses or a higher blood alcohol level, you may face additional jail time up to five years in prison. The exact sentence is up to the discretion of the judge.
It’s important not to assume that you’re convicted of DUI in Pennsylvania just because you’re arrested for drunk driving. It’s up to the state to prove the truth of the charges against you. You don’t have to prove that you’re not guilty. There are legal protections that work to your benefit that ensure the reliability of evidence. If the police don’t follow protocol when they conduct their investigation, the charges against you may not be valid. It’s not up to the police to decide your guilt or innocence. Instead, the judge or the jury has the final say about your guilt or innocence. If you’re found not guilty, you receive no penalty.
If you’re facing a DUI charge, there are a number of potential penalties that may result. Of course, most people think of jail time when they’re charged with DUI. Jail time can be a serious consequence of a DUI charge. You also face probation and steep fines. Probation may include alcohol treatment and alcohol highway safety school. One serious consequence that you may not expect for a drunk driving offense is a driver’s license suspension. If you face a DUI charge, it’s important to address all of the possible consequences in order to reach the result that’s best for you under Pennsylvania law.
Perhaps you were driving erratically and gave the officer reasons to believe you may have been drunk driving. Maybe your swerving, weaving, and hugging the center lane, were driving patterns the officer considered that of a drunk driver and pulled you over to investigate. When the officer is asking questions and decides to test you further, it is always a good idea to comply. If you’re wondering when is it a good idea to take the field sobriety test in a DUI stop, the answer is when the officer asks.
These are some of the different field sobriety test administered at a DUI stop;
The Field Vision Test
If the officer suspects the driver is under the influence of alcohol, they will ask the driver to stand and look directly at the officer. During this time, the officer will observe the moments of the pupils, and either use a finger or pen, to get the driver to follow along with the moment of the object using the eyes only. When the driver is unable to listen to the instructions and turns their head, it could be they don’t have the motor skills from drinking to perform the test correctly.
Your DUI attorney can try to dispute this test by citing you have an impairment that caused incorrect results or you are physically unable to perform that test.
Walking a Straight Line
One field sobriety test that many police officers administer to drivers is making them walk a straight line along the side of their vehicle. In some instances, the officer will give clear instructions on how to walk, turnaround, and repeat the test. The entire test is being videotaped by the dash camera in the police car to be presented as evidence in this case.
Your DUI attorney can dispute the results of this field test by showing you have a physical impairment or injury that altered the results. Your attorney can also present evidence that you were tired from working or traveling a long distance, and not alcohol related.
Balancing on One Foot
Balancing on one foot is a field sobriety test officers give drivers who they feel are under the influence. The driver must stand on one foot, hold the other foot in the air without moving it, and either hold that position or take part in a verbal test at the same time. The officer will often give the driver a few attempts before making their determination as to whether the river is impaired.
Your attorney can fight this test in court citing that this particular test is challenging for even someone completely sober. When driving in the middle of the night and tired, you may be confused by the instructions of the officer, afraid of the officer, or just too tired to perform the test. It is a good idea to take the test because your attorney will have proof of the test to dispute.
Reciting Your Alphabet
There are many officers who prefer to have drivers recite the alphabet during a field sobriety test to determine if they are impaired. The testing usually involves slowly reciting the alphabet from J to W, or even being asked to recite the alphabet backwards.
Your DUI lawyer can make a case that even a sober driver under pressure from an officer will have a hard time reciting the alphabet backwards.
Testing With Your Eyes Closed
One popular field sobriety test used by officers is asking the driver to stand up straight, and tilt their hard back without falling over. Usually this is a challenging task for a person under the influence, and opens the door for the officer to conduct other more accurate tests on the driver. There are a number of variations to this test, including closing the eyes and touching the nose with a finger, and standing perfectly still with the eyes closed.
Your DUI attorney can show evidence that a tired sober driver in the middle of the night might have trouble performing this test successfully.
These field sobriety tests are some of several used by police officers to determine whether there is probable cause for moving forward with the DUI arrest. Your DUI attorney knows that if any of these tests were not conducted properly, there’s the possibility the potential charges could be dropped.
As you can see, if you refuse to take any tests, that refusal is viewed by the courts as an admission, and you are going to be piling up the penalties. That refusal also makes it extremely harder for the Philadelphia DUI attorney to defend because they have no actions of the officer to dispute. It is always a good idea to take the field sobriety test, no matter how inconvenient it may be at the time.