Philadelphia DWI Lawyer
Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is a serious offense. The potential costs and penalties are staggering. If you are convicted of a DWI, you will be required to pay state surcharges and penalties, your insurance is likely to increase significantly, you will lose your license, making your day to day life more difficult, and you may even face time in jail. Additionally, rules between states are very complicated, especially between New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and require legal advice and assistance. You need legal representation that understands these realities, and will use this knowledge in order to zealously protect your legal interests.
Understanding a DWI Arrest
Although the offense may go by other names and have different penalties, the process by which a DWI arrest is made is universal among states. Police use three phases by which to determine if a driver is intoxicated, and ultimately assign a DWI. 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. The officer is looking for
- An inability to follow instructions on a first attempt and other 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.
Possible Consequences of a DWI Conviction:
These penalties create significant strain upon finances and 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.
Unlike in Pennsylvania, there is no ARD in New Jersey for first time offenders. However, there is a 10-year step down rule which may help repeat offenders. It is fairly simple rule in concept, but you will need an attorney to determine your eligibility, and to advise you accordingly based on your history and individual factors.
It is important to understand that DWI/DUI law is not treated the same in every state, as illustrated above. 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 Lawyer?
An experienced attorney can:
- Perform discovery: obtain police reports, request available police video, analyze Breathalyzer data, review police certifications
- Analyze the FST’s and determine whether, based upon police reports and available videos, “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 DWI arrest. They must all be done correctly for the DWI to survive. A knowledgeable attorney can find the holes in your case.
This content was written on behalf of an experienced Philadelphia auto accident attorney Greg Prosmushkin.