DUI Frequently Asked Questions
One night, you are out having a few drinks with friends at a local bar. At the end of the night, you explain to your pals “you’re fine” or “I’m only a little buzzed” and decide to risk driving home instead of calling an Uber. Everyone knows how dangerous it is to driving drunk, or more generally, to drive impaired. Yet DUIs are comparatively a common criminal offense; a type of crime committed at all levels of society. Of course, no one plans for getting pulled over for a DUI, however it is good to be prepared about a handling the charge in advance of it happening.
Being stopped and arrested for a DUI is a particularly troubling experience for most people. The field sobriety tests are awkward, and some people are unable to perform them regardless of whether they have been drinking or not. Being arrested is that much more shocking, and the entire process can be simply overwhelming.
The Following Are Some Commonly Asked Questions about the DUI Stop, Arrest, and Consequences
Can I Refuse a Chemical Test if I am Stopped by a Police Officer?
In the state of Pennsylvania, all legally licensed drivers are deemed to have given “implied consent,” meaning they are required to submit to a blood, breath, or urine test in the event they are stopped for suspicion of DUI. So long as the individual is lawfully arrested by an officer who has probable cause to believe the individual is driving under the influence, they are legally required to take the test. Refusal is an alternative. However, doing so will result in being found guilty of refusal, which results in serious penalties, possibly more so than the DUI a refusing individual would be anxious to avoid in the first place.
What Signs Are Police Officers Looking for During a Field Sobriety Test?
Police are looking for certain behavioral and visual cues which indicate that the individual is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The field sobriety tests are designed to divide the attention of an individual between activities which are difficult for an individual to perform if intoxicated. The officer is looking for the individual to have difficulty following instructions, as well as a number of physical signs, including: dilated pupils, eyes being unable to focus and track, irregular and slurred speech, and an inability to maintain balance.
What if I am Physically Unable to Perform the Field Sobriety Tests, or I am on Medication Which Resulted in a False High BAC Reading?
Your physical condition is relevant, and an attorney will make this argument to either a prosecutor or judge. Obviously, an elderly person or a person with a significant physical ailment may be unable to perform a standardized physical test that a healthier person may be able to.
Your prescribed medications are relevant to the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) results as well. Some medications may have the effect of thinning your blood, causing an artificially high result. If such medication has been prescribed to you prior to the time of the arrest, it can be argued that the medication affected the test results.
Is the Portable Breath Test Admissible in Court?
The portable breath test is simply an on-field device which is used to get an estimate – it is but a single factor in the officer’s determination as to making a DUI arrest or not. The actual breath results, which will be admissible as evidence in court, will be those taken at the station, by a more sophisticated breath test machine.
When Will My License be Suspended?
Your license will not be immediately suspended. If you are found guilty of the DUI, whether by trial or plea, the judge will instruct you to surrender your license after sentencing. The judge will typically ask if you need a temporary license to get home, providing a time by which the temporary license will become ineffective. As of that time you will not be licensed to drive again until your suspension period has ended and you take the steps necessary to restore your license.
Why Do I Need an Attorney?
The penalties for a DUI conviction can be tremendous. Fines, increased insurance premiums, loss of license, ignition interlock, and jail time are all possibilities based upon the severity of the offense. An aggressive lawyer can fight to reduce or dismiss the charges against you, and ensure that you receive the best result possible.
This content was written on behalf of Greg Prosmushkin.