Although DUI is illegal throughout the country, when it comes to catching a drunk driver, the police must obey a few rules. Each step in proving a driver impaired must be performed in a specific way, or the test and the case can be dismissed. Let’s look at the process and how your lawyer can help.
Every day people are pulled over for a DUI stop. That said, it cannot happen without a reason called probable cause. For example, if the police see a vehicle with a broken taillight, swerving, speeding driver or driving too slow, not paying attention to traffic signals or operating their vehicle erratically, the police officer can pull the motorist over. If the police officer had no reason, your lawyer may ask the case be dismissed.
In PA, police are allowed to set up a DUI checkpoint to catch impaired drivers. There are certain criteria they must follow, such as adhering to the Fourth Amendment.
Next, the police must look for behavior or appearances that indicate drunk driving. This includes the smell of alcohol or drugs in some instances, bloodshot eyes or slurred speech that indicate a DUI stop is warranted.
Field Sobriety Tests
Upon finding criteria that point to a DUI, the officer will probably ask the driver to exit their vehicle. There are two types of sobriety tests, standardized and non-standardized.
- The standardized tests: These are approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and include the one-leg stand, horizontal gaze nystagmus, and the walk and turn. NHTSA guidelines must be followed when administering this test, and some estimates suggest that 90 percent of the time it is not. According to the NHTSA, a test cannot be considered valid if it is not administered as required.
- Non-standardized tests: These tests include saying the alphabet backward or standing with your feet together and touching your nose.
Breathalyzer tests are common but not always performed as required. They measure the concentration of alcohol when a breath is released.
Problems can exist that invalidate the test. They are:
- Design problems where the amount of alcohol is increased
- High temperatures can invalidate the results. This increase in temperature can be due to ambient weather or if the driver is running a fever.
- The use of an alcohol-based mouthwash can falsify the reading.
- An increase in the number of red blood cells can invalidate the test.
The Breathalyzer unit must be maintained and calibrated regularly. If this does not occur, the test will be considered inconclusive. Our investigators and lawyers have experience in proving the test’s validity.
Blood tests, too, must be done under strict parameters. For instance, the person donating the blood must have two forms of identification and all information must be carefully entered on the requisition form. The person drawing the blood must be trained, and the area wiped with an alcohol swab must be able to dry naturally. Finally, the tube must not be out-of-date.
Other Common DUI Mistakes
When evaluating a DUI charge, it is critical to consider the period of time between when the driver drank and when the vehicle was driven. A number of factors can influence blood absorption:
- Alcohol is more readily absorbed when carbonated
- Consumption of alcoholic beverages rapidly can increase absorption.
- Absorption rates are affected by eating.
Let The Travis Law Firm Help
If you are arrested for DUI, call the Travis Law Firm at (814) 277-2222, so we can ensure all steps in the process are legal. Our experienced lawyers will check all aspects to keep you from losing your rights unnecessarily. You can also reach us online.