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Potential Defenses to DUI Charges in Pennsylvania

Potential Defenses to DUI Charges in Pennsylvania

Facing charges of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) can be a daunting experience, but you do have legal options and rights. If you find yourself in this situation, understanding the crime of DUI and the potential defenses available to you is the first step to possibly beating the charges. 

Pennsylvania takes a tiered approach to DUI. An offense can fall into one of three categories based on the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC): (1) general impairment (.08 to .099% BAC), (2) high BAC (.10 to .159%) or (3) highest BAC (.16% and higher). The tier designation results in different levels of penalties, which can include fines, probation, jail time and license suspension. A driver’s prior history of DUI convictions also affects the penalties imposed. Drivers under the influence of controlled substances or who refuse breath or chemical testing upon arrest are subject to the highest BAC penalties.

However, if you’ve been arrested and charged with DUI, there might be defenses available, including the following:

  • Illegal stop or arrest — Law enforcement officers must have reasonable suspicion to pull you over and probable cause to make an arrest. If they violated your rights, such as conducting an unlawful search or seizure, it could result in dismissal of the charges.

  • Violation of Miranda rights — If law enforcement officers failed to inform you of your right to remain silent and to speak with an attorney during the arrest or interrogation process, any statements you made are inadmissible in court. 

  • Inaccurate field sobriety tests (FSTs) — Tests such as the walk-and-turn or one-leg stand are subjective and prone to influence by various factors, such as weather conditions, physical limitations or nervousness. Inaccuracy can invalidate the probable cause required for arrest.

  • Faulty breathalyzer or blood tests — These tests, which measure BAC, are not infallible and can produce inaccurate results due to calibration errors, improper administration or contamination of samples. Expert testimony or technical evidence can be introduced to challenge the results.

  • Rising BAC — Alcohol takes time to absorb into the bloodstream. You may assert that your BAC was below the legal limit while you were driving but increased to illegal levels by the time you were tested.

  • Medical conditions or medications — Certain medical conditions or medications can mimic the effects of alcohol impairment or affect the accuracy of chemical tests. 

  • Necessity — In rare cases, individuals may assert a necessity defense, arguing that they had no choice but to drive in order to serve a greater good, such as a medical emergency.

An experienced DUI defense attorney can evaluate your case, raise appropriate defenses and protect your rights throughout the legal process. For a first offense, you may be eligible to participate in special programs that allow you to keep your driving privileges.

Phil DiLucente & Associates, LLC in Pittsburgh defends Pennsylvania motorists in DUI cases. Please call [ln::phone] or contact us online to make an appointment for a free consultation. 

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