Each year thousands of Pennsylvania residents are arrested on drunk driving charges. The circumstances that lead to these arrests can be quite varied but, in most cases, a law enforcement officer will allegedly view some traffic violation, initiate a traffic stop and only once coming into contact with the driver might the officer believe that the driver is under the influence of alcohol. So, what is the best approach to fighting drunk driving charges in Pennsylvania?
Charges associated with drunk driving are unquestionably serious and can carry stiff penalties and consequences.
Because serious potential penalties and consequences can arise related to drunk driving charges, an equally serious criminal defense response is important. DUI convictions can result in both criminal and administrative penalties. Criminal penalties can include possible jail time, fines and other potential penalties. Administrative penalties include the suspension or revocation of the accused individual's driver's license and other possible consequences.
The Pennsylvania State Police recently released statistics on driving under the influence incidents in for the previous year. These statistics reveal that troopers investigated over 4,000 driving under the influence-related crashes and that over 19,500 DUI arrests were made in 2016. These numbers only include instances investigated by state police and do not account for statistics from other law enforcement agencies.
A previous blog post discussed the exemptions to Pennsylvania's Ignition Interlock Law. Those who can prove that installing ignition interlock devices in each of their motor vehicles would present an undue hardship may be allowed to install an ignition interlock system in only one vehicle, provided they do not drive any motor vehicle not equipped with an ignition interlock system.
A previous blog post discussed Pennsylvania's Ignition Interlock Law. Typically, those with more than one conviction for driving under the influence are subject to the law which requires an ignition interlock system to be installed in every motor vehicle that the repeat offender owns, operates or leases. However, there are certain exemptions, including the economic hardship exemption and the employment exemption which may, under certain circumstances, allow some repeat DUI offenders to operate motor vehicles without an ignition interlock system.
Ignition interlock devices are designed to measure drivers' blood alcohol content and disable the ignition, if drivers' blood alcohol content exceeds a threshold. Drivers are locked out and unable to start the vehicle until they pass the blood alcohol test.
Driving under the influence in Pennsylvania may result in various penalties depending on the nature of the offense. Specifically, in Pennsylvania there are three tiers for DUI offenses.
A recent survey reveals that Pennsylvania is one of the safest states for teen drivers. One of the factors taken into account is the level of teen drunk driving, a pervasive problem nationwide. In the comparative ratings of all states, Pennsylvania has moved up four spots from last year, giving it the number three spot on the list.
When a Pennsylvanian is stopped for an investigation related to possible driving under the influence, officers may administer tests to try to determine the person's blood alcohol content. After an arrest, one of the most important pieces of evidence is these test results. The blood test or breathalyzer test will only be admissible in a court of law, if it was conducted with approved equipment used by people qualified to give the tests. Any violation of the applicable protocol when giving the tests, could render the results inadmissible as evidence against the person.