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In a DUI trial, the main issue for the fact finder to decide is whether the person driving or operating the vehicle was "incapable of safe driving.” This phrase has a precise meaning under the law. The prosecutor is not required to show that the person is drunk or severely intoxicated or driving wildly or erratically to commit this crime. Instead, in most cases, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant drank enough alcohol to substantially impair the defendant's normal mental or physical faculties that were essential to safe operation of a vehicle.
In a DUI case in Pennsylvania, the issue comes down to whether the defendant’s “thinking, judgment, physical skills, ability to perceive and react to changes in the situation, or other faculties were impaired and that the impairment was caused by alcohol.” Drug impairment (or a combination of drug and alcohol impairment) uses the same criteria.
Alternatively, the prosecutor can show that at the time of driving the driver's blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) was 0.08 or above.
Attorney Michael Skinner at Skinner Law Firm fights DUI and drunk driving charges from his office conveniently located near the courthouse in the Borough of Media in Delaware County, PA. He understands the best ways to build an effective criminal defense strategy even in the most difficult cases. As a DUI Attorney in Media, PA, he represents clients charged with DUI and drunk driving offenses throughout Delaware County and Chester County.
DUI defense is not a good do-it-yourself project. Too many people make the mistake of pleading guilty to DUI and other serious criminal traffic offenses without understand the consequences that last long after the criminal case is over. An experienced drunk driving defense attorney knows how to review the charges, find weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case, and build the strongest possible defense. For example, if the officer stopped your vehicle without a valid basis, a motion to suppress all evidence in the case can be filed and the judge can then dismiss the charges completely.
Prosecutors make the best offers in the case after they are convinced that your attorney might win a motion to suppress or motion to dismiss on a pre-file basis or that the jury might return a “not guilty” verdict at trial. Fighting the charges aggressively often goes hand-in-hand with negotiating the best result before trial.
The Statewide Statistical Report released by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation shows that for 43,275 DUI arrests, nearly 73 percent of those individuals were first-time offenders with no prior DUI arrest or conviction. The average blood alcohol level (BAC) in Pennsylvania is nearly 0.18, more than twice the legal limit. Most individuals arrested for DUI in Pennsylvania were stopped by the police on a Saturday night or Sunday morning between midnight and 4 a.m. or as a result of an accident. The average offender is a 35-year-old Caucasion male who is not married.
Despite these statistics about the typical offender, DUI can impact people of all ages and backgrounds. An arrest is a serious matter that may impact educational and employment opportunities long after the case is resolved.
The Department of Diagnostic Services in Media, PA, keeps tract of statistics for each person charged with DUI in Delaware County. The Department has reported that the average blood alcohol level (BAL, same as BAC) regardless of tier is nearly 0.18 at the time of arrest. The average BAL of Tier 3 offenses is nearly 0.23. Tier 1 offenses account for nearly 5 percent of all DUI arrests, Tier 2 offenses account for 20 percent to 25 percent of all DUI arrests, and Tier 3 offenses account for nearly 70 percent to 75 percent of all DUI arrests.
Most people who enter a plea on the charge or who are referred as participants into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program in Delaware County are required to schedule both a Court Reporting Network (CRN) evaluation, a Drug and Alcohol Evaluation and Alcohol Highway Safety DUI Educational Classes. Hiring an attorney soon after the arrest can help you resolve the case under the best possible terms so that you can avoid any unnecessary requirements.
In many DUI cases in Delaware County, the prosecutor will allege that the defendant refused to give a sample of his or her breath, blood or urine for testing. A person can express "refusal" in words by saying “No, I will not submit to the chemical test.” In some cases, the prosecutor will alleged that the refusal was demonstrated by uncooperative conduct. In determining whether a refusal actually occurred, everything said and done by the police officer and the defendant will be considered, including all of the surrounding circumstances at the time of the alleged refusal.
In some cases, the courts have found that if a person refuses, that initial refusal can still be regarded as a refusal even if he or she later offers a sample for testing. In other words, the defendant can not necessarily recant or cure the refusal by eventually agreeing to submit to the chemical test.
If a refusal is proven, then the prosecutor will often argue that the testimony about the refusal tends to show that the defendant refused to give a sample of his or her blood, breath, or urine, which indicates that he or she was conscious of guilt. In other words, the prosecutor will argue that the driver knew he or she would register over the legal limit of 0.08 and that is why he or she refused to submit to the breath test.
The defense attorney will often argue in these cases that there were reasons why an innocent person might refuse to take the test. Read more about the DUI refusal case in Media, PA.
At trial, the standard jury instructions provide that if the jury finds that the defendant was asked for and refused to give a sample of his or her breath, blood or urine for testing, then the jury can consider that fact, along with other facts, when deciding whether the defendant was under the influence of alcohol. The jury can give the alleged refusal whatever weight and meaning it thinks it deserves. The other evidence can include the circumstances surrounding the request for the sample, the words of refusal, and other reasons the defendant gave for the refusal.
What happens if I am removed from the ARD program in Delaware County? If you violate a term or condition of the ARD program in Delaware County or if you are arrested for a new offense, then the District Attorney’s Office will file a motion to remove the case from the ARD program and to put the case back on the judge’s docket. After the case is removed from the ARD program, you will receive a notice in the mail for a trial date. If you fail to appear for the trial date, a bench warrant will be issued for your arrest.
DUI Diagnostic Services in Media, PA — Visit the website of the Court of Common Pleas in Media, PA, to find information about the Department of Diagnostic Services. The office is located in the Delaware County Court House in the basement. The Department is responsible for all court-ordered evaluations both from the Magisterial District Justice System, as well as the Court of Common Pleas within the Thirty-Second Judicial District. Those evaluations can include the Court Reporting Network (CRN) Evaluation, which is required on every DUI offense. In addition, in DUI cases the Court may order a Drug and Alcohol Evaluation. The CRN Evaluation determines if a more comprehensive drug and alcohol evaluation is required. The CRN Evaluation costs $70, which must be paid at the time of the appointment.
DUI in Media, PA — Visit the website of the Court of Common Pleas in Delaware County, PA, to find the answers to frequently asked questions by the Adult Probation and Parole office. Find out where you can call to schedule your Track 1 Out-Patient DUI Classes or Alcohol Safe Driving Classes and how to get an ARD case expunged.
After an arrest for driving while intoxicated by alcoholic beverages or impaired by drugs, contact an experienced DUI defense attorney for Delaware County, PA. Attorney Michael Skinner provides free consultations to discuss the facts of your case, explain what you need to do right away to protect your driving privileges, and explain what important defenses exist to fight your pending DUI charges.
With offices conveniently located in Media, PA, near the courthouse, Michael Skinner can begin your defense today. Call (610) 436-1410 to schedule the free initial consultation.
This article was last updated on Monday, February 8, 2016.