Pennsylvania police who patrol State College often make traffic stops on vehicles. It would not be uncommon for a police officer to instruct a driver to step out of his or her vehicle if the reason for the traffic stop is suspected intoxication. Facing DUI charges may have both immediate and long-term negative implications on your future. This is why it’s important to understand DUI defense options and know how to protect your rights.
During a traffic stop where an officer has detained you for suspected drunk driving, the officer in question might want to use a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) device. This is essentially a roadside breath test, which detects the presence of alcohol on your breath. It is different from a chemical Breathalyzer test. Navigating the criminal justice system in connection with DUI charges may be less daunting if you understand your obligations versus options during a traffic stop.
You cannot face arrest for DUI for refusing to take a PAS test
When a Pennsylvania police officer pulls you over and asks you to step out of your vehicle, he or she is detaining you. This does not negate your rights, which you may freely exercise throughout the traffic stop. For example, if the officer asks you to take a PAS breath test, you may exercise your right to refuse. You are under no legal obligation to take this test, and there are no penalties for refusing.
An officer administers a chemical Breathalyzer test after an arrest
As mentioned earlier, a PAS testing device merely detects the presence of alcohol on a person’s breath. It cannot measure your blood alcohol content (BAC) level. A chemical Breathalyzer device, on the other hand, determines how much alcohol is in your bloodstream at that time. In Pennsylvania, if your BAC is .08 or higher, you may not legally operate a motor vehicle due to intoxication.
A police officer (hopefully one certified to administer) will proctor a chemical Breathalyzer test following a DUI arrest. You can refuse this test just as you can refuse a PAS breath test. However, refusing a chemical Breathalyzer following a suspected drunk driving arrest violates implied consent rules. You agreed to these rules when you signed your Pennsylvania driver’s license. Refusing a post-arrest chemical breath, blood or urine test incurs an automatic driver’s license suspension.
DUI defense options
If you are taken into the custody of Pennsylvania police for suspected DUI while attending Penn State or another college, several things will happen. You may have to notify your parents, and the police who arrested you may also notify your school administrators. If you’re employed, you may also have to notify your employer, since you might need to take time off to attend legal appointments.
If a Breathalyzer device did not receive proper calibration or has other issues leading up to, during or following your arrest that constitute a civil rights violation, you may be able to challenge the evidence or request a case dismissal. It’s always best to seek experienced guidance before determining which defense strategy best fits your needs.