There are a number of defenses that could be used by a knowledgeable defense attorney when a motorist is charged with a DUI. However, the applicability of these defenses depends on the factors of an individual's case. Here are a few affirmative defenses that could possibly be applied to your case in given circumstances by a skilled defense attorney:
You were not driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
This is one of the most solid defenses that could be presented in a case. When local law enforcement pulls over a person that they suspect is driving under the influence, they will immediately look for signs of intoxication or impairment. A few of the most apparent indicators of impairment would be bloodshot eyes, slurred speech or a flushed face for example. They also gauge a driver's demeanor during an interaction. If a motorist appears to be nervous or acting as if they are guilty of something, this behavior could be an affirmation that a driver is impaired in the eyes of an officer. However, just because a motorist may be supposedly showing signs of impairment, it doesn't mean that this behavior stems from actual impairment. Bloodshot eyes could be due to allergies, and nervous behavior could be due to the anxiety that comes along with interacting with a police officer. An officer's false assumption could lead him or her to administer an unwarranted and unnecessary field sobriety test.
An officer did not have a legitimate reason to stop you
It is unconstitutional for an officer to pull a motorist over based on a motivation that is not backed by probable cause. An officer must provide a legitimate and factual reason for pulling over a motorist. Unfortunately, over the years profiling practices have become more frequent. Some officers have targeted motorists solely on the basis appearances and perceived behavior. If it is proven by a defense attorney that an officer did not have the right to pull a defendant over, the evidence that he or she obtained during a stop to charge a motorist with a DUI will not be admissible in court and will be thrown out.
You were not technically operating the vehicle
According to Pennsylvania statutes, a driver suspected of driving impaired must be “operating” a vehicle in order to be charged, arrested and convicted of a DUI. Therefore, this means that there must be coherent evidence presented that proves that a motorist was “in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle.” Unfortunately, many people have been convicted of a DUI even if the car was parked and not in motion. A conviction often times boils down to whether a motorist intended to eventually drive the vehicle or keep it parked until they completely sobered up. When this defense is applicable to a case, minuscule components such as a running engine, the placement of a car key, or if a defendant was wearing a seat belt on or not would come into play.
You were not on a public roadway
The charge of a DUI can not be upheld if the vehicle was not operated in a location that is open to the public or a public roadway. If it can be proven that a vehicle was on private property when an officer pulled a motorist over, the charges may be dismissed.
The DUI checkpoint did not meet state guidelines
In order for a DUI roadside checkpoint to be considered legal, law enforcement must follow specific guidelines. If it is proven that they did otherwise, a motorist's DUI case may be dismissed. Here are some of the guidelines that Pennsylvania authorities are required to follow:
- Vehicles cannot be chosen at random: officers occupying a DUI roadside checkpoint must have previously established a numerical system or pattern that dictates the fashion in which they will be stopping motorists. This pre-determined plan is put in place to deter officers from partaking in discriminatory practices.
- Checkpoints must be clearly visible to ensure the safety of all parties: DUI roadside checkpoints must be in plain view for approaching drivers.
- The stop must be brief unless an officer has established reasonable suspicion: When a motorist is stopped at a checkpoint, the interaction is only supposed to last long enough for an officer to reasonably determine if a person is driving impaired. Exceedingly lengthy stops could indicate that an officer is searching for a reason to believe that a driver is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, even when he or she has not exhibited any apparent indicators of impairment.
- A motorist can not be chased or arrested for avoiding checkpoints: Pennsylvania law allows residents to avoid checkpoints if they wish to. However, this must be done without violating any traffic regulations or laws.
You were not fully informed of implied consent law violation consequences prior to refusing chemical testing
In Pennsylvania it is illegal for a motorist to refuse chemical testing, this is called the implied consent law. Nonetheless, before the implied consent law is technically violated, it is the duty of an officer to inform motorists of the impending ramifications. If a motorist was not given a warning, he or she will not be subjected to the harsh consequences that are associated with this DUI-related offense.
Experienced Philadelphia DUI Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI, you should immediately consult with a knowledgeable defense attorney. A legal professional could help you decide which defense is most suitable for your case. Contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.