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Challenging a DUI Arrest in Pennsylvania

Everyday I see individuals who are charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania walk into court and  simply plead guilty. Most of the time I know nothing about their case or what their attorney has done or hasn’t done. People need to understand that just because you are arrested for a DUI that doesn’t automatically mean that your are guilty of the crime.  There are many defenses and ways to challenge a DUI in Pennsylvania and I want to take some time and go through some of them.ILLEGAL STOP

The most common way to challenge a DUI is to argue that the actual stop of the motor vehicle was illegal in some way.  Many times it is argued that the police did not have “probable cause” to stop the vehicle.  There are many ways to prove that there was something wrong with the stop or that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to act accordingly.  One such way which is to see if the officer had a dash cam video and if they did request it immediately. If for instance the officer claims that a motorist  was pulled over because they were “weaving all over the road”, a video may be able to disprove this and have stop thrown out.


Standardized Field Sobriety Tests are just that, standardized. Meaning there is a certain way which they must be administered.  It is important that an attorney understands these tests as much or more that the officer who was giving them.  I myself am trained in field sobriety testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and I am also trained as a field sobriety tests instructor. This is important because if the tests were not administered properly they can be thrown out so they are not used against you by the Commonwealth. As was mentioned above, a dash-cam video can be very helpful with attacking the field sobriety tests if they were caught on video.  A qualified DUI attorney will not only look at how the individual performed on the tests but also how the officer explained and demonstrated the tests during the instructional phase. Some other things to consider is who the tests are being administered  to.  For instance NHTSA specifically talks about individuals who are 65 years or older or have some medical conditions should not be required to submit to these tests.


Typically in Pennsylvania an individual will be asked to provide a sample of breath or blood.  In the case of a breath test there are ways to attack the Commonwealth’s evidence.  One thing to keep in mind is that the is a MACHINE.  A machine needs to be properly maintained in order to work properly. These machines must be calibrated and operated by someone who is qualified. The Commonwealth has the burden to show that the machine was in fact in working order and that all procedures were followed or else the results of this test can be thrown out and not used against the driver.


As with breath tests, blood tests must be done in a certain manner of those results can also be thrown out. This starts with the actual taking of the blood sample, to how the blood is stored, to the testing of the blood itself. If protocols are not followed then this blood evidence should not be used against an individual driver. There have been some recent cases regarding whether a warrant is required if  a motorist refuses to give a blood sample since this is clearly a search under the umbrella of the 4th Amendment.


As I talked about in a previos blog an individual can challenge the constitutionality of the stop during a checkpoint if the police did not follow certain procedures.

Hiring the right attorney can make all the difference in the world. If you find yourself arrested for a DUI, make sure you have a capable attorney on your side. DUI defense attorney Zachary B. Cooper will be aggressive and will fight to make sure that your rights are protected so that you and your family can move on with your lives. Call (215) 542-0800 for a free consultation.