Do Pennsylvania drivers need an attorney after their DUI arrest?

Driving under the influence is considered a serious offense in Pennsylvania, which is why those facing such charges may benefit from seeking legal counsel.

Law enforcement officers arrest people throughout Pennsylvania every day on suspicion of drunk driving. According to the state's Department of Transportation, there were 52,636 DUI arrests in Pennsylvania in 2014 alone. When facing drunk driving charges, some may choose to represent themselves, while others may rely on the assistance of a court-appointed attorney. However, hiring a DUI attorney may be crucial to them achieving the best possible outcomes to their cases.

Understanding the state's laws

There are a number of factors that affect driving under the influence charges in the state of Pennsylvania. This includes their blood alcohol content, or BAC, levels at the time of their arrest, as well as their prior record. Consequently, navigating the complexities of DUI arrests and charges may be difficult for the average person. DUI attorneys, however, typically have an in-depth understanding of the state's procedures and laws. Thus, they are familiar with how best to defend their clients against the charges they are facing.

Questioning the stop

The state of Pennsylvania, like many other states, has an implied consent law. Under this state law, people who drive in the state are considered to have consented to chemical testing to determine their BAC levels. Yet, law enforcement officers must have reasonable grounds to pull drivers over. Therefore, the results of breath, blood or urine tests may be considered invalid if motorists are stopped without just cause. DUI attorneys understand the ins and outs of the law, and thus, are familiar with how to go about questioning whether or not a stop was legal.

Questioning the evidence

Breath tests are commonly used to determine the BAC levels of those motorists who are arrested on suspicion of DUI. As specified in Pennsylvania state law, the results of such tests are admissible as evidence in court. However, such tests must be performed using approved devices, which are properly calibrated. Furthermore, they must be administered by qualified operators.

DUI attorneys are familiar with these requirements, and know how to go about obtaining copies of the certificates and logs for the calibration of such devices. If they can show that the device was not properly maintained, tested for accuracy or operated, then they may be able to have the test results thrown out. Additionally, DUI lawyers often understand the factors that might affect the accuracy of such tests, including a person's diet, particles in the air or certain medical conditions. They may be able to bring up these issues, if they exist, as a way to call into question the legitimacy of the breath test results.

Mitigating the penalties

If convicted of DUI in the state of Pennsylvania, people may face a range of penalties. As the state's Department of Motor Vehicles points out, this includes the possibility of jail, probation and fines. Additionally, people may be required to have ignition interlock devices installed on their vehicles. They may also be ordered to participate in alcohol highway safety school or an alcohol treatment program.

Attorneys who focus their practice on DUI defense are often aware of the court's options. Thus, they may know when it is possible to seek lesser penalties, which may have a significant impact on how a DUI conviction affects their clients moving forward.

Protecting drivers' rights

Being arrested and convicted of DUI in Pennsylvania may have life-changing implications. People may not only face the potential penalties, but also lose employment opportunities and experience other personal challenges. In order to ensure their rights and futures are protected, it may be of benefit for those who have been charged with drunk driving to obtain legal representation.