Last year, the Pennsylvania State Police made 330 DUI arrests during the Christmas holiday. Data from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) indicate that drunk driving-related accidents spike sharply during the holiday season; and, as a result, law enforcement agencies typically come out in full force to stop drivers who appear to be intoxicated behind the wheel.
If you are facing a DUI charge because you had too much to drink before getting behind the wheel over the holidays, or if you believe that you were wrongfully stopped and ticketed for DUI, you need to take your defense seriously. Pennsylvania law imposes substantial penalties for DUI; and, while you might not be sent to jail if you are a first-time offender (repeat offenders face a mandatory minimum jail sentence, but first-time offenders do not), a conviction can still lead to huge financial costs and other consequences.
5 Key Facts about Defending Against DUI Charges in Philadelphia After the Holiday Season
So, whether you were ticketed on Halloween, New Year’s Eve, or any day in between, the more you can do to protect yourself, the better. To help you get started, here are five key facts you need to know:
1. There are Several Potential Ways to Challenge the Results of Your Breath Test.
When the police pulled you over, you complied with Pennsylvania’s implied consent law, and you submitted to the breathalyzer. You blew above the legal limit, and so the police have proof that you were driving under the influence. Does this mean that the prosecutor’s office will have an open-and-shut case?
Not necessarily. There are several ways that you may be able to challenge the results of your breath test. If the results of your breath test are unreliable for any reason, then they cannot legally be used against you in court. When you speak with a defense attorney about your DUI case, you will want to be sure to discuss any factors that might influence the validity of your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reading. Learn more: 10 Ways to Challenge Your Breath Test Results in a Pennsylvania DUI Case.
2. Even if You Can’t Challenge Your Breathalyzer Results, You May Still have Other Defenses Available.
But, let’s assume for a minute that your breath test results are valid. The breathalyzer device was properly calibrated, the arresting officer administered the test properly, and there is no way to argue that there was any interference from any outside factors. Is your case over now?
No. In a DUI case, challenging the validity of your breath test results is just one of numerous potential defense strategies, and there are several defenses that you may be able to assert even if your breath test results indicate that you were legally impaired. If there is any way that your defense attorney can raise a reasonable doubt about your guilt, then you should be able to avoid a conviction and get back to your normal life. Learn more: 12 Key Facts that Could Determine the Outcome of Your Pennsylvania Criminal Case.
3. There are Several Costly Mistakes You Need to Avoid.
In order to ensure that you will be able to build an effective defense, you need to avoid some critical mistakes. These mistakes can all be extremely costly, and making just one could mean the difference between having your DUI charge dismissed and facing a guilty verdict in court.
As a defendant in Pennsylvania state court, you need to be your own advocate. Your attorney can advise you and represent you in court, but he or she can ultimately only do so much to protect you. It is up to you to make sure you avoid mistakes that could jeopardize your defense, and you need to make sure you know what you need to do to protect yourself. Learn more: Charged with a Crime in Philadelphia? Here are 10 Critical Mistakes You Need to Avoid.
4. Entering into a Diversionary Program Can Protect You from a Conviction.
In Philadelphia, there are a few potential ways to resolve a DUI case. You can admit guilt and face the consequences. You can attempt to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor’s office. You can take your case to court. Or, you can seek entry into what is known as a “diversionary program.”
With the exception of simply admitting guilt (which is never a good idea), each of the options listed above can be a DUI defendant’s best option under differing circumstances. In cases where the evidence may support a conviction, it will often make sense to seek to have your case diverted from the trial.
When you enter into a diversionary program, your case is removed from the trial schedule during your enrollment in the program. If you complete the program successfully, your case is over. You don’t have to think about pleading guilty and accepting a deal, and you don’t have to worry about being convicted at trial. For first-time DUI offenders, the primary program that is available is the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program. Learn more: How to Avoid a Criminal Record for First-Time Offenders.
5. You Owe it to Yourself to Speak with a Defense Attorney.
Regardless of the circumstances of your case – whether you attempted to drive home after having too much to drink at a holiday party or you believe that you were wrongfully stopped and ticketed – you owe it to yourself to speak with a defense attorney. You simply have too much at stake to let the justice system determine the outcome of your case for you. An experienced defense attorney will be able to examine your defenses, explain your options, and help you make smart decisions about avoiding unnecessary life-altering consequences due to your DUI arrest. Learn more: How We Help Individuals Charged with DUI in Philadelphia.
Schedule a Free Initial Consultation with Philadelphia DUI Attorney Brian Fishman
If you are facing a DUI charge in Philadelphia, contact our Philadelphia DUI attorney at the Fishman Firm for a free, no-obligation consultation about your defense. To schedule an appointment with defense lawyer Brian Fishman, call 267-758-2228 or inquire online now.