DUI Process in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, you can be arrested and convicted of driving under the influence (DUI), if you drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher. Sentencing is based on how high your BAC was at the time of driving. For example, "general impairment" is considered to occur when a person's BAC is between .08% and .099%, whereas a "high BAC" is considered to range from 0.10% and 0.159%, with the "highest BAC" level being 0.16% and above.

The Traffic Stop: Before police pulls someone over, they must first have "probable cause" that a crime has been committed. They must have either received a tip from another driver or citizen, or have witnessed the driver committing a traffic violation, or they must have observed driving that may be indicative of driving under the influence; for example, weaving in and out of lanes. The police cannot sit outside of a bar, waiting until closing time and for patrons to drive away. They must have probable cause before they can make a traffic stop.

Sobriety Checkpoint or DUI Roadblock: Some states conduct DUI sobriety checkpoints or DUI roadblocks in order to catch drunk drivers. Police must follow specific protocol when setting these up, and they cannot set them up randomly. Police will either stop every car, or they will follow a pattern; for example, they may stop every third car.

Field Sobriety Tests: If a police officer suspects that someone is driving under the influence after the initial traffic stop, he or she can ask the driver to perform a series of field sobriety tests. These are roadside tests that challenge the driver's ability to follow directions while performing physical tasks. The Standardized Field Sobriety Test is a battery of 3 tests: Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, Walk-and-Turn, and the One-Leg-Stand.

What a lot of people don't realize is that these tests are voluntary and there is no penalty for politely refusing. However, be aware that if you do submit to these tests, evidence captured on the police officer's dash cam is admissible in court and can be used against you to secure a conviction.

Preliminary Alcohol Screening Test (PAS): Let's say in the worst case scenario, the driver admits to drinking alcohol, has a strong odor of alcohol on their breath, is slurring their words, and performed poorly on the field sobriety tests. In such cases, the police officer would have the suspected drunk driver blow into a handheld Breathalyzer, which would be used to measure the driver's BAC. This test is usually conducted roadside.

DUI Arrest: If the police officer gathered enough evidence to have probable cause to make the arrest, the police officer would read the suspect their Miranda rights and take him or her down to the police station where the suspect would be required to submit to a chemical test by giving a sample of their blood, breath, or urine. Under Pennsylvania's implied consent laws, if a driver refuses to submit to a chemical test, his or her driver's license will be automatically suspended.

Arrested for DUI? Contact a Reading DUI attorney today!

Have you been arrested for DUI? Depending on your criminal record, you could be facing fines, license suspension, jail time, the installation of an ignition interlock device, skyrocketing insurance premiums, and a permanent criminal record. Don't let this happen to you!

As a former prosecutor, I understand the ins and outs of the Pennsylvania criminal justice system. There are many ways that DUI cases can be fought and won. I urge you to contact me, Curtis E. Barnes, Attorney at Law to discuss your legal options. When facing the consequences of a criminal conviction, you need to do everything you can to fight your charges.

Arrested for DUI? Don't give up without a fight – contact a Reading DUI lawyer today by calling (610) 572-1905.

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