Were you pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving? Did you fail a roadside sobriety test? Our law firm handles drunk driving and driving under the influence cases in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Before your case goes too far, call Gambone Law. We will be by your side to make sure you understand the charges and possible consequences and to protect your legal rights.
What the Prosecutor Must Prove
DUI cases require that the district attorney or the prosecutor establish three elements beyond a reasonable doubt to convict someone of drunk driving. If there are gaps in the case against you, a good defense attorney will find them and expose them. The three elements the prosecution must establish beyond a reasonable doubt are control, impairment, and blood alcohol content (BAC). We explain these elements here:
- Control. In order to be convicted of drunk driving, there must be proof that you were actually driving the vehicle while under the influence. In other words, you were in control of the vehicle while drunk. This element is often overlooked by defense attorneys. If you were arrested when you were sleeping or just sitting in a parked car, control would be in question. In these cases, a judge or jury would need to determine control by analyzing the totality of the circumstances. The judge or jury would have to evaluate the position and location of the vehicle (how near was it to a road?), the condition of the engine (was it running?), and any other element that would allow the fact finder (the judge or jury) to draw a reasonable inference that the person charged with the crime had actually driven the vehicle while under the influence. While actual physical control may sound obvious, a good defense attorney should not simply overlook it.
- Impairment. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court defines impairment as the enfeeblement of one’s mental or physical capabilities or in the ability to exercise judgment, deliberation, or reaction to changing circumstances and conditions. It is important to understand that the court’s definition describes a condition that may not exactly equate to being “drunk.” Impairment is based on the amount of alcohol or drugs in a person’s bloodstream.
- Blood alcohol content (BAC). In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, a person is considered legally intoxicated when their blood alcohol level is .08 percent or higher. Your level of impairment is based on your BAC, and the prosecution must establish a certain level of BAC to convict you of a more serious DUI. The prosecution will use the results from either a breathalyzer or blood test to establish BAC.
The severity of your DUI case depends on the level of your intoxication and the number of times you’ve been convicted of DUI. Pennsylvania has mandatory minimum sentencing for DUI offenses.
Potential Issues That Could Work in Your Favor
Along with questioning these elements, a defense attorney will examine other potential weaknesses in the state’s case against you. Issues such as the correct administration of the breathalyzer or blood test, the qualifications of the operator, the calibration of the devices, and the storage of the samples are important to your case. Similar to illegal drug and gun cases, DUI cases also involve potential violation of your Fourth, Fifth, or Sixth Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution and Article 1, Section 8, of the Pennsylvania Constitution. Violation of your rights could lead to a dismissal of the charges in the hands of the right attorney.
Understanding Implied Consent
In Pennsylvania and New Jersey—as in most states—simply by holding a driver’s license you give the state permission to take your blood, breath, or urine following your arrest on suspicion of DUI. You have no right to refuse a sobriety test under any circumstances. If you do refuse, you face stiff penalties.
In Pennsylvania, courts have found that any response from a driver that falls short of an unqualified and unequivocal assent to a particular chemical test is a refusal for the purposes of the implied consent law. Further, courts have found that simply remaining silent also constitutes a refusal as the implied consent law requires that the motorist provide the police officer or state trooper with simply a yes answer. The penalty for refusing a sobriety test is the loss of your license for a year, on top of penalties you receive for a DUI conviction.
Get More Information From Us
We encourage you to watch our videos on DUI/DWI for more information on how our firm handles these cases. Before you hire just any DUI attorney, you need to read our book—5 Ways to Fight & Win Your Pennsylvania DUI Case. No other law firm is going to give you a resource like this book for FREE. Other lawyers just talk, we tell you exactly how we defend cases through our own written words! Get this book and start yourself on the road to success in your case.