The Basics of a DUI Charge – The Travis Law Firm in Erie, PA

How a DUI Charge Works

You find yourself facing a DUI charge, and your mind is racing. Your family will probably be upset, you may spend time in jail and you don’t know what to do. You could lose your job, and that would mean household bills would go unpaid. You might not know who to turn to at this critical juncture. In most cases, having an experienced DUI lawyer is critical. Let’s look at DUI charges, their basis, ways to refute the charges and how an attorney can help. 

DUI Defense Attorneys – Travis Law Firm

Just because you are charged with a DUI does not mean you will be convicted. A DUI arrest is based on a series of tests and rules that can be and are broken in some cases. The four main factors in a DUI charge are:

  • The DUI stop
  • Breathalyzer results
  • Field sobriety tests
  • Blood tests

If mistakes are made, the DUI charge may be dismissed. We examine the evidence that led to your arrest and see if the proper protocol was followed. If not, an argument can be made that the arrest was based on false evidence, and a petition to have it dropped can be made.

The Elements of a DUI Charge

  • The first step in a DUI case is stopping the driver so their level of alcohol can be evaluated. Other than when a checkpoint is set up, there must be a reason to stop a motorist, called probable cause. For instance, the driver does not stop at a traffic light, their brake lights are not working or they are veering across multiple lanes. This behavior gives the police a reason to make the stop. Further, if the stop was made randomly for no reason, an attorney can ask that charges be dropped. 
  • Observation of the driver and looking for signs that he/she is impaired is next. The odor of alcohol, disheveled appearance, slurred speech, confusion or bloodshot eyes are all signs the driver may have been drinking.
  • Roadside sobriety tests indicate whether the driver lacks the ability to follow orders, maintain muscle coordination and balance, all of which are used as indicators of sobriety. There are several sobriety tests that are routinely used, such as testing for horizontal gaze nystagmus, standing on one leg and walking and turning. If any of the tests are administered incorrectly, their usefulness as a basis for DUI is negated. 
  • Using a Breathalyzer is next. This device measures the alcohol content in the person’s breath. The use of a Breathalyzer has been challenged on several points. For instance, the use of an alcohol mouthwash can falsely elevate the outcome. Using a unit that is too hot or when the driver’s body temperature is elevated can cause it to malfunction. In addition, the Breathalyzer needs to be properly calibrated, and the police officer needs to be certified to use it. These and other issues with a Breathalyzer can give the DUI attorney cause to refute the results.
  • Blood tests must follow protocols established to provide an accurate reading. For instance, the person’s ID needs to be firmly established, and the tube must be labeled and not be outdated. The blood draw and storage of the sample must follow rigorous guidelines. If storage is not at or slightly below 39-degrees Fahrenheit, the blood may undergo fermentation and produce alcohol. The final concentration of blood alcohol would be falsely elevated in the serum or plasma sample. Since state law uses whole blood to determine the alcohol level, the test results must be reduced by 16-18 percent.

False Increase in Alcohol Blood Level

Some activities increase or decrease the alcohol adsorption. These are:

  • Eating decreases the absorption rate
  • Carbonated drinks increase absorption
  • Antacids decrease absorption time
  • Zantac and other heartburn medications increase absorption

Travis Law Firm Protects Your Rights in a DUI Charge

The Travis Law works to protect your rights when you are charged with a criminal act. We investigate every aspect of the case and determine if the evidence against you is faulty. If the case against you has inaccuracies, we will work to have the charges dropped. 

In the event that the charges are backed by solid evidence and you are a first-time offender, we help you secure entrance into the ARD program where you may be able to avoid jail time, reduce the time your license is suspended and ask for expungement of the arrest record. 

Call the Travis Law Firm at (814) 277-2222, or contact us online to arrange a free consultation. We are experienced litigators and familiar to the courts in Erie. Let us help you in this critical time.