All states enforce drunk driving laws to keep the roads safe, and penalties vary depending on the circumstances. Even a first offense can mean some jail time or fines and license suspension. However, drivers in Pennsylvania can fight the charges and use several defenses.
Breathalyzer is inaccurate
An officer may check for impairment by using a Breathalyzer, a device that collects a breath sample from the driver. In most states, the blood alcohol content limit is 0.08, and drivers can get charged with DUI at that level.
However, the defense can question the accuracy of the Breathalyzer based on the officer’s training and calibration. Some health conditions, such as diabetes, can raise the level of ketones that show up in the breath, causing an inaccurate result.
The officer illegally stopped the driver
An officer needs reasonable suspicion to stop a driver, examine them for intoxication and arrest them for DUI. In other words, the driver needs to exhibit behavior that warrants a stop, not just on an officer’s whim.
Some driving behaviors, such as constant braking or swerving, straddling lines and speeding, are usually signs of impaired driving. The officer can legally stop, detain and search a driver under these circumstances and conduct field tests.
The arrest is illegal
After the officer stops a driver under reasonable suspicion, they need probable cause to arrest the driver. This means they need enough evidence, such as observations for at least 20 minutes and witness statements.
It requires more proof than reasonable suspicion, which only requires enough suspicion to stop a driver who may be drunk. In most states, the driver must be in actual control of the vehicle, so a defense may be to claim that they weren’t driving.
Drivers may be intimidated by all the nuances of DUI law. However, those worried about the penalties may be able to get reduced or dismissed charges with valid defenses.