DUIs In The State Of Pennsylvania
Under Pennsylvania’s DUI law, there are many different circumstances that can result in a DUI charge. However, they are basically divided into two types: DUI by impairment, and DUI per se.
DUI per se
DUI per se requires proof that a person operated a motor vehicle at a time when that person had in their system a certain level of alcohol, or certain controlled substances. For alcohol, a person may not operate after having had enough alcohol that their alcohol concentration (BAC) is above .08, or rises to above .08 within two hours after driving. For drugs, a person may not operate if they have in their blood any quantity of a Schedule I controlled substance (like marijuana or heroin), a non-prescribed Schedule II or III controlled substance (like certain pain medications or anti-depressants), or any metabolite of the above.
An important feature of DUI per se is that it does not require proof of actual impairment. The mere presence of a prohibited substance in the driver’s system is all that must be proven. In fact, it is not uncommon for drivers to be charged with per se DUI by drugs (especially marijuana) based on the presence of a metabolite alone, where actual use may have been days prior.
DUI by impairment
DUI by impairment involves operating a motor vehicle at a time when the operator is impaired by alcohol, drugs, or some combination thereof, to the extent that they could not safely operate the vehicle. An important feature of DUI by impairment is that it does not require proof of any particular level of drugs or alcohol in the driver’s system. If the driver can be proven to be impaired, it is not a defense that the level of alcohol was below the per se limit, that drugs were taken lawfully and/or by prescription, or that the specific substances causing impairment are unknown. This usually requires evidence given by the police officer and/or other witnesses to establish that some signs or symptoms of impairment were present in the driver.
What To Do If You Have Been Pulled Over For A DUI
If you have been pulled over by a police officer for any reason, whether you are impaired or not, there are several key things you should do in order to move through the process as smoothly as possible.
- Pull over promptly, and safely and while using your turn signal.
- Stay in the car with your hands visible.
- Have your license, registration and insurance cards ready.
- If you have any pre-existing injuries or medical conditions which affect your balance let the officer know before you are given Field Sobriety Test (FST).
- At booking or at the hospital request the names of any individuals involved in drawing blood or asking booking questions.
- Exercise your right to remain silent when being asked any questions at the booking center other than your name and date of birth.
What NOT To Do If You Have Been Pulled Over For A DUI
It’s equally important to also know what you should not do when pulled over by a police officer. Doing any of the following could cause negative complications to your matter and could possibly be used against you in your DUI case down the road.
Don’t initiate any conversation or volunteer information about drinking and driving
Don’t get out of the car until you are instructed.
Don’t engage the officer in conversation on the way to booking or the hospital as you are probably being video and audiotaped.
Pulled Over For A DUI? Remember These Key Things
If you are pulled over for a suspected DUI, remember to pull over immediately and safely, remain in your vehicle and exercise your right to remain silent. Knowing your rights may help you to avoid any unnecessary complications to the situation and could help your DUI case, should it result in one.
Lastly, it’s important to understand that a DUI in Pennsylvania includes operating a motor vehicle under the influence of any substance which affects your ability to drive safely including prescription medications and over the counter medications like benadryl. Even if you have a medical marijuana card you can still be prosecuted for driving a vehicle with any amount of marijuana in your blood under the current law.
Contact Colgan & Associates To Be Your Traffic Lawyer Today
If you are facing DUI charges in Pennsylvania, you want to be sure you have adequate, knowledgeable representation on your side. Hefty fines and penalties, as well as the potential loss of your driving privileges should be every reason to hire an experienced traffic lawyer to handle your case.
At Colgan & Associates, our respected lawyers stand ready to help you with your DUI charges and work toward a fair and favorable resolution. Contact us today for a no-cost, no-obligation phone consultation so we can discuss your unique case. Call us at (717) 790-2048