If you are arrested for a DUI in Pennsylvania, it can feel like “case closed” as you begin to ponder the consequences of a DUI conviction: jail time, criminal fines, skyrocketing insurance rates, license suspension, and a criminal record that can be accessed by employers and other interested parties for years to come. But an arrest for DUI – while serious – is not the end of the story. Prosecutors must still win conviction, and they must do so by proving all elements of a DUI charge beyond a reasonable doubt. With the assistance of experienced criminal defense counsel in Pennsylvania, you can pursue a variety of defenses to your DUI charges.
What Prosecutors Must Prove in a DUI Charge in PA
To win their case, prosecutors must show that you were: 1) in actual physical control of a moving vehicle; 2) that was positioned in a highway or trafficway; 3) while you were impaired with .08% or higher blood alcohol level (BAC) OR alcohol made you “incapable of safe driving.”
Thus, the first line of defense is to examine whether there is any reasonable doubt with regard to any of these three requirements. Questions to pursue in rebutting the prosecutor’s case include:
- Were you not in physical control of the vehicle?
- Was the vehicle actually moving?
- Was the vehicle actually in a highway or trafficway?
- Were you actually incapable of safe driving or is there a question regarding what your actual BAC is?
On the last point of admitting evidence of BAC, furtherquestions might include whether the evidence of your BAC (e.g. through a breathalyzer test) was properly preserved, or whether the breathalyzer itself was properly working in measuring your BAC.
Calling Into Question the Legality of the Police’s Actions
Even if a driver does meet the standard for a DUI charge, the charges may not result in conviction if it can be shown that the police acted improperly in stopping the car or questioning the driver.
Police must have a reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is taking place before they stop a car, and merely having a hunch that the driver is breaking the law is not enough. A defense lawyer can press the arresting officer and prosecutors to prove that the officer did indeed have reasonable suspicion to stop the car, and, if there was not reasonable suspicion, then the stop itself was illegal.
In addition, police officers must have probable cause to arrest a person, which is an even higher standard than reasonable suspicion, and questions can be raised as to whether your arrest was legal.
Furthermore, officers are required to respect your constitutional right to remain silent as well as to not be questioned after a lawyer has been requested, and if they failed to respect these rights, these may qualify as valid defenses in your DUI charges.
Assessing and pursuing a valid, effective defense in a DUI matter is highly specific to the facts of the defendant’s underlying actions as well as those of police, and a defendant facing DUI charges is strongly encouraged to work with an experienced DUI defense lawyer to begin mounting their best defense to all DUI charges.
Speak with a PA DUI Criminal Defense Attorney Today
At The Martin Law Firm, P.C., in Montgomery County, we are committed to defending your rights. Call us today for a free consultation with a PA criminal defense attorney today regarding your DUI arrest.