Challenging A DUI Arrest In CourtMany people mistakenly believe that the only option that they have after being arrested on DUI charges in Pennsylvania is to plead guilty to the charges and accept the standard penalties associated with those charges.

However, there are actually many alternative options that exist which can result in a more favorable outcome after a DUI arrest. In fact, with the help of an experienced Pennsylvania DUI defense lawyer you may be able to challenge your DUI arrest and obtain a reduction in charges or even a full acquittal of the charges against you.

In this article, our Pennsylvania DUI defense attorneys break down three different ways to fight a DUI arrest in the State of Pennsylvania.

Keep in mind that these are just three possible ways to fight a DUI and that each case is different. If you have any questions about DUI laws in Pennsylvania or would like a free consultation, we encourage you to call our DUI defense lawyers for a free consultation.

3 Ways To Challenge A DUI Arrest

1.) Challenging Results Of Chemical Test / Field Sobriety Test

One of the most common ways to challenge a DUI arrest is by challenging the accuracy of the results from chemical breath tests or field sobriety tests. During a DUI arrest, police officers typically administer certain tests in order to estimate a suspected driver’s level of impairment.

Challenging Roadside Breathalyzer TestThese tests can include:

  • Field Sobriety Tests
    • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)
    • Walk and Turn (WAT)
    • One-leg Stand (OLS)
  • Pre-arrest Chemical Tests
    • Roadside breathalyzer
  • Post-arrest Chemical Tests
    • Chemical breath tests
    • Chemical blood tests
    • Chemical urine tests

Officers use these and other tests to estimate an individual’s level of intoxication when they expect that an individual was driving under the influence. However, all of the testing methods mentioned above are prone to errors as we will discuss below.

Problems With Field Sobriety Tests

The problem with field sobriety tests is that they are completely non-scientific and are subject to human error.

For example, an officer may fail to administer a field sobriety test properly which could result in a misleading assessment of the tests. Additionally, factors such as drowsiness, fitness level and medication, can all affect an individual’s performance during a field sobriety test.

But despite the problems with field sobriety testing, law enforcement officers use field sobriety tests all the time to determine whether or not they have probable cause to make a DUI arrest.

Problems With Chemical Testing

Chemical tests are used to estimate an individual’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level. Depending on the circumstances, an officer may ask a driver to submit to a chemical test of blood, breath or urine.

Although chemical tests are considered to be more scientific than field sobriety tests, chemical testing is still subject to error:

Improper equipment maintenance – The equipment used for chemical breath tests must be properly calibrated and regularly maintained in order to register accurate results. Unfortunately, these devices are often used without being properly calibrated and maintained, resulting in inaccurate BAC results.

Device malfunction – The devices used for chemical breath testing are also subject to malfunctioning just like any other electronic device. Studies have found that these devices can deliver artificially elevated BAC readings when they malfunction.

Health conditions – An individual’s health conditions can also cause chemical testing equipment to register inaccurate results. For example,

Other factors – There are many other factors that can affect the chemical test results obtained during a DUI arrest. For example, the use of over-the-counter products containing concentrated levels of alcohol, such as mouthwash, can cause a testing device to return test results that do not accurately represent a person’s blood alcohol content at the time of testing.

New Laws About Blood Testing In DUI Cases

A recent decision by the US Supreme Court determined that police officers must obtain a warrant in order to obtain chemical blood tests from an individual suspected of driving under the influence.

Therefore, if a law enforcement officer makes a driver submit to a chemical blood test without obtaining an official warrant then it may be possible for the individual to have the evidence dismissed in court.

Read this blog post to learn more about the recent changes to DUI laws in Pennsylvania which make it legal for suspected drunk drivers to refuse to submit to a blood test if police officers do not have a warrant.

2.) Challenging The Legality Of The Traffic Stop

Individuals arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence commonly challenge the legality of the traffic stop that led to their DUI arrest.

Did The Officer Have Probable Cause To Pull You Over?

Pennsylvania DUI ArrestA police officer must have some sort of probable cause in order to legally stop a driver on the road. If a police officer stops your vehicle without having probable cause and you are then arrested for intoxicated driving, you may be able have the evidence against you dismissed by challenge the legality of the traffic stop.

Additionally, many people consider DUI checkpoints to be illegal because they violate an individual’s Fourth Amendment rights which protect an individual from unreasonable searches and seizures. DUI checkpoints have even been outlawed in certain states because they were determined to be unconstitutional. While it is very difficult, a DUI defense lawyer may be able to help you fight a DUI by challenging the legality of a DUI checkpoint.

3.) Making A “Rising Blood Alcohol” Argument

Many individuals fight their DUI charges by making a “rising blood alcohol” argument. In other words, a driver can argue that their BAC was within the legal limits when they were pulled over and arrested, but that their BAC rose above the legal limit by the time the chemical test was performed.

When an individual is arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, officers typically administer an official chemical test at the police station. The results of the official chemical test can be used in court to prosecute an individuals suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol.

But because these official chemical tests are usually administered at the police station (often hours after the DUI arrest), drivers may be able to successfully challenge the results of the tests by claiming that their BAC increased above the legal limit between the time that they were arrested and the time when the tests were taken.

Hiring An Experienced DUI Defense Attorney

If you were arrested on drunk driving charges or for driving under the influence of a controlled substance in Pennsylvania, you could face serious penalties and expensive fines. However, just because you were arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence does not necessarily mean that you will be convicted of the charges against you.

Many drivers arrested for DUI are able to successfully fight the charges to obtain a reduction in penalties or even a total dismissal of charges, but doing so is by no means easy.

You can contact our DUI defense lawyers in Pennsylvania today to schedule a free consultation. We will evaluate the unique details of your case and help you take the best course of action with your DUI case.