A DUI Arrest Is Not a DUI Conviction
It might seem as if once the police stop and charge you with driving under the influence, your conviction is a foregone conclusion. That, however, simply is not the truth. You have rights, and the police have standards of proof. Between the two, you might avoid a conviction after a DUI charge.
First things first: The police cannot stop you for no reason. To make a stop requires probable cause to believe that an offense of some kind has taken place. While the standards for probable cause are low—obvious safety equipment failures such as headlights, tail lights, and brake lights, or erratic driving that indicates you are under the influence of alcohol all qualify—the police still must have probable cause and, at trial, show that they did.
Police have other hurdles of proof. To overcome them, the police often rely upon several means of showing you were under the influence, including:
- Field sobriety tests: There are standard “field tests” that police almost everywhere use to help establish if you are impaired. These include walking heel to toe along a straight line, reciting the alphabet (or portions of it), standing on one foot, and other subjective tests that are open to the interpretation of the officer on the scene. The tests are often impossible to pass because of that subjectivity, but they are not required. You can refuse to take such tests.
- Breathalyzer tests: These are generally required by state implied-consent laws. You can refuse, but it might not do you much good at trial and you will face administrative penalties, such as license suspension and mandatory use of an ignition interlock device. Nonetheless, these tests are not always reliable.
- Blood tests: While more reliable than breathalyzer tests, even blood tests have shortcomings. Everything depends upon the accuracy of the process. If samples are not handled correctly or equipment not properly maintained and calibrated, the tests are not valid.
Put simply, you are not defenseless. If a police officer stops you, you always have your Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate yourself. You do not have to consent to a search of your vehicle without a warrant. Police can’t require you to answer any questions or incriminate yourself in any way, such as by taking so-called field sobriety tests. Furthermore, you can challenge the tests that the law requires you to take, or you can challenge administrative penalties imposed because you refused to take those tests. In short, you have options.
If You Face DUI Charges in the Philadelphia Area, Contact the Criminal Defense Attorneys of the Skinner Law Firm
If police arrested you on DUI charges in the Philadelphia area, consult a criminal defense attorney to explore your options. A charge is not a conviction. Police might have incorrectly conducted your stop or otherwise violated your rights. An attorney can find other ways to challenge the charges, as well. The attorneys at The Skinner Law Firm can help. Reach us at (610) 436-1410 or through our online contact form.