How to Beat A Pennsylvania DUI Charge
7 Ways to Beat a Drunk Driving Case in
Pennsylvania’s Drunk Driving laws are tough, but many DUI
cases can be won in court. A good attorney will work diligently,
investigate thoroughly, and ensure that the prosecutor prove every
element of the charge. The Constitution requires nothing less.
The police frequently make mistakes, and oftentimes, they are
biased. Police usually form an opinion about an individual’s level
of intoxication simply based on the smell of alcohol and other
DUI cases are very complex. They involve scientific evidence and
testing procedures, as well as confusing police and legal processes.
My job is to convince a jury that the case is simple, the evidence
is weak, and the circumstances, facts, and arrest could have
happened to anyone.
#1: Challenge the Validity of the Initial Traffic
In order to pull over a motor vehicle, a police must officer must
have “reasonable suspicion” to believe that a traffic infraction has
occurred. In other words, the driver must be speeding, swerving,
operating erratically, etc. in order for law enforcement to stop the
car. The police report must set out the circumstances that caused
your car to be stopped.
The validity of the traffic stop is usually challenged by a
“motion to dismiss.” If the prosecutor is unable to prove that the
traffic stop was valid, then the case should be dismissed.
#2: Challenge Operation of the Car
In every Pennsylvania DUI case, the prosecutor must prove that
the driver was actually “operating” the motor vehicle. The element
of “operation” requires the following – evidence of actual,
physical control of either the machinery of the motor vehicle or the
management of the vehicle's movement; it does not require evidence
that the vehicle was in motion.
A valid argument may exist if your car was already stopped when
the police arrived. In other words, it may be difficult for the
prosecutor to prove that you were actually driving the car if there
are no witnesses (such as a police officer) that can testify to
such. This is true even if you were falling-down drunk. The
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania must still prove that you were
“operating” the motor vehicle.
#3: Challenge Police Procedures
At a certain point during the arrest, the police must inform you
of your Miranda rights. This means that the police must tell you of
your right to remain silent, etc. An officer’s failure to issue such
rights usually won’t get a case dismissed; it may, however, keep the
prosecutors from using certain admissions or other incriminating
statements that you made during the arrest.
Additionally, if the officer failed to advise you of your rights
and consequences of refusing a breath or chemical test, the results
may be excluded as the proper procedures were not followed.
#4: Challenge Prosecutor Procedures
Prosecutors must also follow certain procedures. If the
prosecutor in your case has failed to provide your attorney with the
evidence that he/she intends to use at trial in a timely manner,
then that particular evidence may be excluded.
In addition, the prosecutor may not introduce evidence at trial
of which you and your attorney were not aware. You have a right to
inspect/view every piece of evidence that the prosecutor anticipates
using. If he/she attempts to introduce such evidence a mistrial may
be declared. If such an event occurs, then the case may be tried
again. In many of those instances, however, the Commonwealth does
not pursue a second trial.
#5: Challenge the Breath Test Results
Many people think that if they failed the breath test, then their
case can’t be won. That is untrue. There are ways to challenge the
breath-test machines, which are inherently flawed. The devices that
measure an individual’s blood alcohol content (BAC) are just as
imperfect as the electronic devices that we use everyday, such as,
computers, cell phones, and TV remotes. Just like those machines,
breath-test instruments are not 100% reliable.
These machines oftentimes issue incorrect results based on radio
frequency interference, a person’s diet, medical conditions (acid
Additionally, an argument can be made about the test if it
occurred during the “absorption phase”. If your BAC is measured
shortly after your last drink, while your body is still absorbing
alcohol, the results may be inaccurate.
#6: Challenge the Field Sobriety Tests
When we beat DUI
charges, it is often because we are able to aggressively challenges
the field sobriety tests, which are inherently flawed.
If you failed the
field sobriety tests, even if you think you didn’t, there may be
various reasons why the police thought you did; many of which are
unrelated to being drunk.
- The police officer wants you to fail. Your performance of
the Field Sobriety tests are interpreted and judged subjectively
by police officer. Naturally, most people fail the field
- You have injuries or medical problems with your back, knees,
legs or feet; thus, you may not be able to perform the
walk-and-turn test, or the one-leg stand test.
- You are overweight or elderly; therefore you are not
considered a good candidate for agility tests.
- You were wearing high heels, large boots, or other
tests are inherently flawed. This is the area where you’re most
likely to have success in challenging your DUI.
The experts at the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) have
concluded that three tests, if conducted properly, can predict
whether a person may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
These tests include: the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test,
the Walk-and-Turn test, and the One-Leg Stand test.
According to the
NHSTA, the field sobriety tests have the following accuracies —
HGN* test -
test - 68%
test - 65%
That means that these tests are each inaccurate nearly one
third of the time.
are trained to administer the field sobriety tests. The training
manual of each police department illustrates the correct way in
which to conduct the tests. Oftentimes, police officers do not
follow the procedures properly. Our attorneys will cross-examine
the police officers, by using the officers’ training manual, in
an attempt to expose the errors the officer made while
administering the tests.
* The HGN test, is not
admissible in court as evidence against you. The police will still
use it to determine probable cause in whether or not to arrest you,
however. The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus/HGN test is where you must
follow a light with your eye, and the officer judges whether or not
you allegedly had involuntary movement in your eye, which
theoretically relates to impairment.
#7: Challenge the Officers Observations
Officers routinely testify that defendants smelled of
alcohol, fumbled with their license and registration, and/or
appeared unsteady on their feet. These observations are
subjective. They come from an officer who does not know you and
who may have already formed an opinion. In most cases, the
observing officer will not know anything about how you walk,
talk, and act.
In some cases there may be witnesses who can offer unbiased
opinions on your behavior. Also, videotape evidence taken from
the cruiser, or at the police station, may be available. In many
cases, this evidence is helpful.
These are just some of the many challenges and arguments I can
make in court to establish that you were not impaired, and are not
guilty of a DUI charge.
If you find yourself facing a Pennsylvania DUI charge, you should
call me today. I will give you the benefit of my experience in
fighting and winning DUI cases. I will review the facts of your case
and tell you, honestly and straightforwardly, what I think about
your case. I will let you know what I think of your chances to
succeed in a trial or get a dismissal, and why. The legal advice is
free, so call me now! (888) 412-3298.
Our experienced Pennsylvania criminal
defense attorneys represent clients facing criminal charges
and DUI / Drunk Driving accusations across Eastern Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia, Harrisburg,
Lebanon, Carlisle and Lancaster, and in Bucks, Montgomery, Northampton, and Lehigh Counties. Call
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We also represent clients in Western Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh metro
area, Allegheny County, and across the state of PA.