There are many ways to defend against charges of driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol. These defenses could result in a reduction or dismissal of the charges against you. When a valid defense exists, it is important to work with an experienced attorney to present the defense to the court and jury, and avoid a DUI conviction.
DUI Defense Strategies in Pennsylvania
Certain DUI defense strategies can be employed to protect your constitutional rights as well as keep you out of prison or jail.
Challenging Breath Tests
Breath tests are not known for their accuracy. In fact, even a properly calibrated breath testing device can be off as much as 0.02%. In Pennsylvania, the legal per se limit for alcohol is 0.08% blood alcohol content (BAC), so anyone with that level of BAC or higher is assumed to be intoxicated under the law. If the test is 0.02% incorrect, you may not have actually been as intoxicated as the test showed, and you may have been under the legal limit.
The accuracy of these tests can be challenged in order to defend your case, and your rights.
Challenging Officer Testimony
Law enforcement officers are often called as part of a DUI case to testify against you at trial. They are often asked for their observations about certain aspects of the arrest, such as:
- why the traffic stop was performed,
- your performance on field sobriety tests,
- your demeanor and responses to questions, and
- your driving.
Inconsistencies or mistakes in an officer's testimony can be used to challenge that officer's credibility, as well as their observations. Also, if there is body cam or dash cam evidence of the stop or tests which conflicts with the officer's testimony, this can be a great tool to challenge the officer's testimony.
Challenging the Traffic Stop
Under the U.S. Constitution as well as the Pennsylvania Constitution, law enforcement officers are required to have probable cause to initiate a traffic stop. It is not enough that the officer has a "hunch" or general suspicion that a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The officer must be able to articulate specific facts or observations that led to the stop. This usually requires a traffic violation of some sort, such as:
- failure to maintain lane,
- speeding, or
- failure to stop at stop signs or red lights.
In many cases, part of the evidence against you are objects that were found during the search, or statements that were made during the arrest. If the search of your vehicle did not follow strict constitutional guidelines, the evidence discovered as a result of that search can be determined invalid and inadmissible.
This is also true of statements made while you were under arrest, but before you were advised of your Miranda rights. Suppression motions ask the court to exclude evidence that was unconstitutionally gathered and collected. Exclusion of this kind of evidence can have a significant positive impact on your case.
Consult a Pennsylvania DUI Defense Attorney
Presenting legal defenses can be complex on your own, but with the help of the right attorney it can protect your freedom.