Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious criminal matter in Pennsylvania. It is not necessary to have consumed alcohol shortly before driving either, as the laws in Pennsylvania have been enhanced to allow impaired driving charges for both prescription and illegal drugs. And all drivers understand the impact a conviction can have on their life with respect to punishment and ongoing problems in society. The stigma is difficult, and defending against any charges is imperative even when state evidence is strong.
While most states use the standardized blood-alcohol content level of .08% to .149 as a basic Philadelphia DUI charge before an aggravation enhancement, Pennsylvania actually breaks this down into three tiers. Anyone registering .10 will be charged with an elevated crime. Additionally, a BAC of zero could still lead to an arrest and charge if the officer testifies the driver was impaired at the time of the stop. Blood test warrant compliance is also similar to submitting to the Breathalyzer, and implied consent laws apply when refusing.
Potential for ARD
Pennsylvania also implements a diversion law as well that allows first-time DUI offenders who do not cause an accident to enter the Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition program. The program allows for a case discharge after successful completion over a two-year time span. Diversion involves having an ignition interlock device installed on a personal vehicle with no subsequent arrests during that period. Those who successfully finish the required time period can have their case dismissed and all records of the incident expunged from the public record.
There are also certain requirements of proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was indeed impaired. Cases can be dismissed based on faulty testing equipment as well as unlawful stops by law enforcement. Additionally, a defense of minimal drug latency in the defendant’s system can apply in certain cases.