Philadelphia Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer
If you are currently facing drinking and driving charges in Philadelphia, you are more than likely exploring your options and deciding on what your next step should be. A Philadelphia drunk driving conviction can result in jail time, costly fines and a suspension on your driver’s license. A DUI conviction also means you will have a criminal record. The first steps in dealing with the consequences of a DUI are to understand the charges against you and to get an expert DUI Lawyer on your case. A DUI charge is no minor traffic offense and taking on the legal system alone can lead to the maximum potential penalties, which is why you should schedule an appointment with one of our criminal defense lawyers.
If you have been charged with Driving Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs, you need an experienced Philadelphia DUI lawyer to protect your rights.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a serious offense. The potential penalties and costs are staggering. If you are convicted of a DUI, you will be required to pay state surcharges and penalties, your insurance is likely to significantly increase, you will lose your license, thereby making your day to day life more difficult, and you even could face jail time. A DUI in Pennsylvania is treated as a criminal offense, and, as such, needs to be taken seriously. You will need an experienced DUI attorney to help you resolve this serious matter.
Understanding a DUI Arrest
Although the name and consequences of the offense vary, the process by which a DUI is made is universal among states. Police use three phases by which to determine if a driver is intoxicated, and assign a DUI. These phases include:
- Vehicle in Motion: Initial observations of the vehicle and observation of its stop. The officer is looking for
- Driving in two lanes
- Driving too fast or too slow
- Stopped at a green light
- Personal Contact: The face to face contact and interview of the driver and observation of driver’s vehicle exit. The officer is looking for
- Slurred speech
- Odor of alcohol
- Glossy or bloodshot eyes
- Erratic behavior
- Pre-Arrest Screening: The psychophysical (field) sobriety testing (FST’s) and preliminary breath testing (PBT). The officer is looking for
- An inability to follow instructions on a first attempt, and others behaviors and visual cues of intoxication.
Field Sobriety Testing (FST’s)
There are three FST’s that are taught to every officer throughout the country. There is ample evidence that these tests are often ineffective, yet they remain the standard. These are The One-Legged Stand (OLS), The Walk and Turn (WAT), and The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN). Many officers also may ask you to recite the alphabet backwards. These tests are designed to allow the officer to observe an individual’s movements, balance, coordination, and listening comprehension, in order to make a determination about potential intoxication.
Possible Consequences of a DUI Conviction
- Ticket fines
- State surcharges
- Loss of license
- Insurance increase
- Criminal conviction
- Jail time
These penalties create significant strain on finances, and to the ability to get and/or maintain a job. Losing your license makes even the most basic activities challenging. From going to work to grocery shopping to driving children to activities, the difficulties created by losing your license will affect every aspect of your daily routine.
Pennsylvania has a program called the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) which is a program that allows for first time DUI offenders to potentially resolve their matter without a DUI conviction. A lawyer can tell you whether you are eligible for the program, help you to resolve the matter with prosecutors, and to enter the program.
It is important to understand that DWI/DUI law is not treated the same in every state. Between New Jersey and Pennsylvania specifically, a DUI in Pennsylvania is a criminal offense, whereas a DWI in New Jersey is a traffic matter. As such, Pennsylvania will not recognize a New Jersey conviction because they reasonably refuse to apply a motor vehicle conviction as a criminal one. In this situation, as well as most others involving an arrest in one state and residency in another, the consequences are that much more complicated. The assistance of a knowledgeable attorney is crucial in the management of such a case.
Why Do I Need a DUI Lawyer?
An experienced lawyer can:
- Perform discovery: obtain police reports, request available police video, analyze breathalyzer data, and review police certifications.
- Analyze the FST’s, and determine whether based upon police reports and available videos if “reasonable suspicion” existed for an officer to continue the FST’s.
- Evaluate whether FST’s were administered correctly by the officer.
- Retain expert witnesses and reports.
There are many steps in a DUI arrest. They must all be done correctly for the DUI to survive. A knowledgeable attorney can find the holes in your case.
This content was written on behalf of Greg Prosmushkin.