The type of driving under the influence defense that may be available to you will depend on the specific facts and evidence in your case. I have a comprehensive understanding of Pennsylvania’s DUI law as well as the various state and federal constitutional issues that may arise during a DUI arrest and prosecution. Developing an effective DUI defense is an intensive process that often involves the use of independent defense investigators and forensic experts in different fields.
I have over a decade of experience providing skilled and aggressive representation to individuals charged with DUI in Bucks County, Montgomery County and the surrounding counties. Contact me at (215) 752-5282 for a free initial consultation or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response. Appointments are available after business hours and on weekends.
I will begin the process by conducting a detailed interview with you regarding the specific circumstances of your DUI arrest both before and after your contact with the police. The information acquired from you during the initial interview will establish the foundation for investigating and developing any potential legal defenses to the DUI charge. As a result of the initial formal interview, I may make an immediate formal request that the police preserve any body-cam and dash-cam videos of the arrest as well as any blood samples obtained from the accused as part of the investigation.
The Role of a Defense Investigator
Many DUI cases will require the use of an independent defense investigator to conduct a thorough investigation of the case to uncover any exculpatory evidence supporting the legal defense of the accused. An impartial defense investigator will often uncover critical evidence that the police overlook. My professional network includes a number of highly skilled defense investigators.
DUI Defense Investigation
Depending on the facts of the case, an investigator may be used to locate and interview witnesses establishing the accused was not driving while impaired. An investigator may also be used to obtain police video recordings, medical records, surveillance video and other evidence demonstrating the innocence of the accused. It is extremely important to begin the defense investigation of a DUI offense at the earliest possible stage of the case.
Investigating and Developing a DUI Defense
As part of the initial evaluation of the case, I may consult with forensic experts in the fields of toxicology, pharmacology, accident reconstruction, police practices and procedures, emergency medicine, internal medicine and video animation and simulation. In many cases, a defense forensic expert can testify at trial on behalf of the accused to rebut the opinions and conclusions of the prosecutor’s experts.
Common DUI Defenses
Challenging the Initial Vehicle Stop
There are limited legal circumstances under which the police can pull over your vehicle for a DUI stop. The police must possess reasonable suspicion that a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs or have reasonable suspicion to believe the vehicle code has been violated. The police may also conduct a traffic stop if they have probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed.
In many cases, the reasonable suspicion or probable cause for the traffic stop is based on the officer’s subjective perception of speeding, following too closely, failing to maintain one’s lane, an unsafe lane change or other traffic violations rather than on unbiased, objective facts.
The arresting officer’s legal basis for the vehicle stop can often be successfully challenged in court through the filing of a Motion to Suppress Evidence. If the trial court rules that the police lacked probable cause or reasonable suspicion to justify the car stop, the evidence supporting the DUI charge will be excluded from trial and the charges will usually be withdrawn or dismissed. I have extensive experience identifying cases where the police lacked the legal authority to conduct a DUI vehicle stop.
Challenging the Probable Cause for Arrest
Once you are pulled over, the police must establish probable cause that you are driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or a controlled substance. The police will often conclude that probable cause exists for a DUI arrest based on any combination of the following factors:
- An admission to drinking
- Slurred speech
- Bloodshot eyes
- Difficulty standing
- Failure to pass field sobriety testing
- Odor of alcohol from the driver
- Difficulty producing a license, registration or insurance
Unfortunately, these factors are often based on the police officer’s biased, subjective perceptions rather than objective, verifiable facts. There are often many innocent explanations for the observations police attribute to intoxication, including medical conditions and pre-existing physical injuries. Certain medical conditions have symptoms similar to those of someone who is intoxicated.
A Motion to Suppress Evidence can be filed in cases where the police lacked probable cause to make a DUI arrest. If the trial court concludes that the police lacked probable cause for the DUI arrest, the evidence that flowed from the arrest will be excluded from trial, often resulting in a dismissal of the charges. I am highly skilled in identifying cases where the police lacked probable cause to conduct a DUI arrest.
Challenging the Legality of the DUI Checkpoint
To be legal, Pennsylvania roadside DUI checkpoints must comply with specific federal and state constitutional requirements. I will examine a circumstances of the DUI checkpoint arrest for the following factors:
- The length of the vehicle stop at the checkpoint
- The advance notice provided for the checkpoint
- The time and location of the checkpoint
- The guidelines used for stopping drivers at the checkpoint
A Motion to Suppress Evidence can be filed if the police violated the constitutional requirements for a lawful DUI checkpoint. If the trial court rules that the DUI checkpoint was unlawful, evidence resulting from the vehicle stop and arrest can be excluded as evidence from trial and can result in the dismissal of the charges. I will thoroughly review all of the procedures used by the police in planning and conducting the DUI checkpoint and aggressively challenge any violations of your constitutional rights.
Challenging the DUI Arrest through Police Body-Cam and Dash-Cam Video
Many of the aspects of a DUI arrest are captured by police dashboard cameras or through police body cameras. These cameras will often record pre-arrest driving behavior, initial police interactions with the driver, field sobriety tests and post-arrest driver behavior. I will frequently use an investigator to subpoena and, if necessary, request preservation of all video and audio related to the DUI arrest.
Use of Police Video during the DUI Trial
I have frequently been able to produce the police dash-cam or body-cam video during the trial to contradict the police officer’s justification for the vehicle stop and DUI arrest. The failure of the police to properly preserve video evidence of the DUI arrest can result in a violation of your state and federal constitutional rights. In some cases, I have been able to successfully argue at trial that the police acted in bad faith in not preserving the video evidence because it was helpful to the defense of the arrested driver. Establishing that law enforcement officials lost or destroyed evidence favorable to the accused in a DUI case will often result in the judge or jury returning a verdict of not guilty at the conclusion of the trial.
Challenging the Field Sobriety Testing Results
At the time of the vehicle stop, the police may have instructed you to perform several field sobriety tests (FSTs), including the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), walk and turn, one-leg stand, finger-to-nose, and alphabet recital. The police will often use the results of your performance on the FSTs as the primary factor in deciding whether to charge you with DUI.
Establishing the Unreliability of Field Sobriety Tests
Most of the FSTs are difficult to perform by completely sober people under ideal conditions. No matter how well you think you have done in completing the tests, the police are inclined to interpret the results against you. I have an extensive understanding of the specific testing requirements and proper testing procedures for all FSTs conducted by the police.
In many cases, I have been able to successfully discredit the prosecutor’s conclusions regarding your performance on the FSTs through aggressive cross-examination of the police officer who conducted the testing. In some cases, I have also used an independent expert in standardized field sobriety testing to rebut the opinions and conclusions of the police.
Challenging the Chemical Test Results
Many DUI cases can be successfully defended in court by demonstrating that proper chemical testing procedures were not followed during the collection and processing of the chemical test evidence. In some cases, it may be necessary to re-test a blood or urine sample to confirm the accuracy of the state laboratory’s testing results. It is important to conduct an independent analysis of the circumstances under which the blood or urine sample was handled, transported and tested and verify that the testing equipment was working properly and calibrated according to state regulations.
Use of an Independent Toxicologist in a DUI Defense
I will frequently hire an independent toxicologist to review the state laboratory testing equipment as well as the procedures and protocols used by the technicians to process the blood or urine used as evidence in the case. In many cases, the independent toxicologist will testify for the defense at trial to rebut the opinions and conclusions of the state’s toxicology expert.
Challenging the Breath Test Results
In DUI cases involving breath testing, it is critical to review whether all proper breath testing procedures were followed by the police. The Pennsylvania Code requires the police to follow specific guidelines when conducting chemical testing for DUI using a breathalyzer machine. It is important to analyze the following issues in any DUI case involving the use of a breathalyzer device:
- Did the police use an approved breathalyzer device?
- Did the police comply with the 20-minute pre-test observation period?
- Was the breathalyzer operator properly certified?
- Was the breathalyzer device properly calibrated?
- Was the breathalyzer device inspected for accuracy?
- Was there an improper deviance between the 2 breath test results?
The failure of the police to comply with any of the breath testing procedures and protocols can result in the exclusion of the breath test results as evidence in the trial.
Establishing Actual Physical Control of the Vehicle
To achieve a conviction for DUI, the prosecutor must prove every element of the DUI offense beyond a reasonable doubt to a judge or a jury. The prosecutor must establish that you drove, operated or were in actual physical control of a vehicle to satisfy this standard. There are many instances when the police and prosecutor will have difficulty proving that this element of the DUI statute.
The police will often make an arrest for DUI without establishing credible evidence that the accused was actually driving or operating the vehicle identified in the investigation.Examples include situations in which the police arrive at an accident scene and discover that the vehicles are unoccupied or in cases where police locate the accused in the passenger seat of the vehicle.
Proving Actual Physical Control a Vehicle
The police will also attempt to prove that a suspected impaired driver was in actual physical control of a vehicle in cases where the accused is found behind the wheel of a parked vehicle without the engine running. As part of the DUI investigation, the police will examine the location of the vehicle and look for evidence that was vehicle’s engine was running or any other evidence indicating that the accused had driven the vehicle prior to the arrival of the police. It is often very difficult for a prosecutor to convict an individual for DUI based on the theory of actual physical control when the vehicle is found in a parked position and not in transit on a street or other roadway.
Defending Actual Physical Control Cases
The police will often file DUI charges in actual physical control cases based on highly questionable and unreliable evidence. In some cases, I have been successful in establishing that the accused was not in actual physical control of the vehicle but was simply sleeping off intoxication or extreme fatigue. In other cases, I have been successful in proving that someone other than the accused was driving the vehicle prior to the arrival of the police. I have extensive trial experience successfully defending actual physical control DUI cases.
Wet Reckless Driving Plea Agreements in DUI Cases
In certain cases, a DUI charge may be negotiated to a lesser offense referred to as a “wet reckless driving” offense. A wet reckless driving charge carries the same penalties as a standard reckless driving citation but includes the additional requirement of alcohol education or treatment. A wet reckless plea agreement would allow a driver to avoid the mandatory jail time, fines, court costs and lengthy license suspension associated with a DUI conviction.
Factors considered by the prosecutor in determining whether to offer a wet reckless driving plea agreement include the driver’s blood alcohol level, whether the driver had prior DUI convictions and whether an accident occurred as a result of the offense. I can determine whether your DUI charge qualifies for a wet reckless driving plea agreement.
Trusted and Dedicated DUI Defense
Being charged with a DUI is an extremely stressful situation for most people. Mandatory jail time, significant fines and possible driver’s license suspension are just a few of the life-altering consequences you may face. Most individuals charged with DUI are 1st time offenders who are unfamiliar with the court process. I am skilled in evaluating the specific facts of your case, assessing your needs, determining your specific goals and employing the most effective strategy to minimize the consequences of your DUI case, including taking the case to trial before a judge or jury if necessary.
Start with a Strong Defense
If you have been charged with DUI in Bucks County, Montgomery County or the surrounding counties, it is critical that you act quickly to protect your rights and build the strongest possible defense against the charges. Phone lines are open 24 hours a day at (215) 752-5282. Call today for a free initial consultation or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response.