How to Beat a DUI Charge in Pennsylvania
You probably already know a DUI conviction in Pennsylvania has severe consequences. From losing your license to facing jail time, being found guilty can change your life forever. But you should also know that being charged doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll face the worst penalties.
You should consult with a DUI lawyer to understand what you’re up against and what defenses might work best for your circumstances. However, you may have a few legal options to fight the charges, such as:
Challenge the Stop
One way to beat a DUI charge is by challenging the initial traffic stop that led to your arrest. Police must have reasonable suspicion that you are impaired before pulling you over. Erratic driving behaviors such as swerving and speeding can justify a stop.
If law enforcement lacked a reasonable suspicion to pull you over, any evidence collected as a result can’t be used against you in court. This could include field sobriety test results, breathalyzer results, and anything you said to the arresting officer. Your attorney can review the circumstances leading to the stop to determine if there are grounds for challenging it.
Challenge the Sobriety Checkpoint
You may have been stopped at a DUI checkpoint in Pennsylvania, especially if it was a holiday weekend. These checkpoints are legal, but they must be well-marked and meet specific standards. Police also can’t stop vehicles are their discretion; they must follow a pre-determined pattern such as every fourth car.
If the checkpoint doesn’t comply with standards, any evidence or arrest resulting from the stop could be challenged.
Contest Field Sobriety and Breath Test Results
If you’re pulled over on suspicion of DUI, police may ask you to complete a field sobriety test such as the walk and turn test or standing on one leg. You can decline to do a field sobriety test, but the results of a completed test can be contested, especially if the officer failed to adequately explain the procedure. Other physical and environmental conditions can affect the accuracy of field sobriety tests and raise questions about the validity of the results, which your attorney can challenge.
In addition to field sobriety test results, it may also be possible to contest the results of a breath test. Evidence of your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is often a key part of the prosecution’s case against you. But your BAC reading can be challenged as breathalyzers can be unreliable or give inaccurate readings if they aren’t calibrated properly.
See if You Qualify for Alternative Sentencing
Even if the prosecution has a strong case, there are other ways to avoid the most significant penalties. Although Pennsylvania is tough on drunk driving, it offers ways for some offenders to make a fresh start and learn from their mistakes without going to jail.
For example, first-time DUI offenders could qualify for the state’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. This program helps those charged with a DUI stay out of jail and avoid a conviction on their criminal record if completed successfully. Not every defendant charged with a DUI will qualify for ARD, but your attorney can advocate for you to be admitted to the program instead of being sent to jail.
Hire the Right DUI Attorney
Hiring a DUI attorney should be your first step if you’re charged. Pennsylvania has strict DUI laws, and understanding them will be key to your defense. Pennsylvania operates on a tiered system for DUI offenses, and penalties vary depending on the tier and whether you have prior offenses. Some factors can make your case complicated, such as if you were alleged to have a high BAC or refused a breathalyzer.
You should hire an attorney with in-depth knowledge of the state’s laws, court procedures, and years of experience handling cases like yours. Although each case is unique, your DUI lawyer can help you understand what to expect and decide the best path forward.
Call Worgul, Sarna & Ness for Help Fighting a DUI Today
Beating a DUI charge in Pennsylvania can be challenging, but it’s possible to fight and beat the charge with the right lawyer and a strong defense. Each case is different, and your attorney should come up with a strategy to best fit your specific situation.
If you find yourself facing a DUI charge in Pennsylvania, reach out to a DUI attorney with Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC. Our team has years of experience helping clients beat DUI charges, and we’re ready to answer your questions and guide you through the legal process.