In Pennsylvania, DUI accidents—and DUI arrests—increase during the holiday season. As one local news outlet reported the day before Thanksgiving (which is commonly referred to as “Blackout Wednesday”), “PennDOT, police and emergency responder agencies today reminded motorists that the holiday season is one of the most dangerous times for crashes caused by driving under the influence.”
The article discusses the most-dangerous days and weeks of the year when it comes to the risk of being involved in a DUI accident. According to the article, the top four most-dangerous times to drive are:
- Pre-Thanksgiving (including “Blackout Wednesday”)
While a few summer holidays come next, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day are not far behind. Since the number of alcohol-involved accidents increases during the holiday season, this means that the police are more aggressive in targeting drunk drivers during this period as well.
10 Important Facts To Know If You Get a Holiday DUI in 2022
We regularly see an uptick in DUI arrests during the holiday season in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas. If you are dealing with a holiday DUI, here are 10 important facts you need to know:
1. The Prosecution Has the Burden of Proof
Even if there is no question that you were driving drunk, this does not necessarily mean that you will be found guilty in court. The prosecution must prove your guilt beyond a “reasonable doubt,” and there are several ways to challenge the prosecution’s evidence in court. As a result, regardless of the facts of your case, you should not make any assumptions about the outcome until you speak with a DUI lawyer.
2. You May Be Able to Get Your DUI Charge Reduced
If it appears likely that you will face a DUI conviction at trial, then one option you may have is to seek a reduced charge. Prosecutors in Philadelphia will agree to reduce DUI charges to a “wet reckless” in many cases. If you cannot avoid a conviction entirely, then pleading to a “wet reckless” might be your best option.
3. There Are Some Facts That Won’t Protect You From a DUI Conviction
When considering your next steps, it is important to make sure you have a clear understanding of the facts that will—and won’t—protect you. There are a lot of misconceptions about DUI cases, and many people wrongly assume that certain facts will protect them. For example, if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was over the legal limit, the fact that you were still capable of driving safely will not protect you. Conversely, even if your BAC was just 0.02 percent, you could still get convicted if prosecutors have evidence that your driving abilities were impaired.
4. You Might Be Able To Challenge Your Field Sobriety Test Results
While you aren’t required to take the field sobriety tests (FSTs) under Pennsylvania law, if you take them, prosecutors can use your “failure” against you. FST results can be unreliable for a variety of different reasons, and an experienced DUI lawyer may be able to challenge your FST results on multiple grounds.
5. You Might Be Able to Challenge Your Breath Test Results
Unlike the FSTs, taking a breath test is mandatory under Pennsylvania’s “implied consent” law (provided that the police comply with the law). However, like the FSTs, breath tests can also be challenged on multiple grounds. From arguing that the breathalyzer device wasn’t properly calibrated to providing an alternate explanation for your “false positive,” there are various options for challenging a breath test during a DUI case in Pennsylvania.
6. There Are Several Other Ways to Fight a DUI Charge As Well
Along with challenging your FST and breath test results, there are several other ways to fight a DUI charge in Pennsylvania as well. An experienced DUI lawyer will be able to evaluate numerous potential defenses based on the facts of your case. In addition to defenses related to your level of intoxication (or lack thereof), this includes defenses based on violations of your constitutional rights. If the police or prosecutors violate your constitutional rights, you may be entitled to a dismissal even if you were driving drunk.
7. You Have Options if You Can’t Fight Your DUI Charge
Let’s say the prosecution’s evidence against you is solid. You got caught, and prosecutors have the evidence they need to prove it in court. Does this mean you should resign yourself to a conviction?
Not at all. Even if you don’t have a realistic chance of fighting your DUI charge, you still have options available. As discussed above, one of these options is to negotiate a plea bargain. Depending on your record, you may also qualify for one of Pennsylvania’s diversion programs. If you qualify (and you complete the program successfully), you can have your DUI wiped from your record regardless of the facts involved.
8. You Do Not Want To Miss Your Court Date
When you get arrested for DUI, you will have a court date scheduled relatively soon after your arrest. Even though it is the holiday season, you cannot ignore your DUI. If you don’t show up in court, you can be charged with “failure to appear,” and this can lead to additional penalties.
9. Different DUI Charges Carry Different Penalties
As you evaluate your next steps, it is important to make sure you have a clear understanding of what is at stake. The penalties for all DUI charges are severe; but if you are being charged with a “High BAC” or “Highest BAC” DUI, even greater penalties are on the table.
10. You Need an Experienced DUI Lawyer
Due to the risks involved with facing a DUI charge in Pennsylvania, you need an experienced DUI lawyer on your side. There are several ways a DUI lawyer can help you, and you have far too much at stake to try to handle your situation on your own.
Request a Consultation with Philadelphia DUI Lawyer Brian Fishman
Are you dealing with a holiday DUI charge? If so, we encourage you to contact us promptly. To discuss your case with Philadelphia DUI lawyer Brian Fishman in confidence, call 267-758-2228 or request a consultation online now.