Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Bucks County Driving Under the Influence

Understanding a DUI Arrest
In Bucks County, Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a serious offense. In the state of Pennsylvania, a DUI constitutes as a criminal offense. This means that on top of fines, state surcharges, increased rates, and other financial costs that you may be facing jail time. Retaining a knowledgeable and successful DUI lawyer is a must. The Law Offices of Greg Prosmushkin, P.C. are conveniently located in both Trenton and Philadelphia and will aggressively protect your rights anywhere in the region. 

The process by which a DUI arrest is made is universal among most states.  Police use three phases by which to determine if a driver is intoxicated and assign a DUI.  These phases include: 

(1)   Vehicle in Motion:  Initial observations of the vehicle and observation of its stop.  The officer is looking for

-          Swerving

-          Driving in two lanes

-          Driving too fast or too slow

-          Stopped at a green light

(2)   Personal Contact:  The face to face contact and interview of the driver and observation of driver’s vehicle exit.  The officer is looking for

-          Slurred speech

-          Odor of alcohol

-          Glossy or bloodshot eyes

-          Erratic behavior 

(3)   Pre-Arrest Screening:  The psychophysical (field) sobriety testing (FSTs) and preliminary breath testing.  The officer is looking for

-          An inability to follow instructions on a first attempt and other behaviors and visual cues of intoxication.

Field Sobriety Testing (FSTS)

These tests are used by officers throughout the country to make a visual determination as to the intoxication of a driver.  It is crucial that you understand that the conviction of a drunk driver can be accomplished through EITHER these field sobriety tests or a breath test.  This means that you need an aggressive firm like The Law Offices of Greg Prosmushkin, P.C. to fight both in order to beat a DUI. 
Field Sobriety Tests are a specific battery of physical tests designed to provide an officer consistent clues as to a driver’s intoxication or sobriety.  In theory, the outcomes of these tests will allow an officer to make an accurate determination without any technological assistance.  However, this is flawed in that the tests are not scientifically conclusive and their accuracy is greatly diminished by environment and officer factors.  Poor weather conditions, un-level terrain, and officer error can

all contribute to inaccurate results.  If the officer makes mistakes in the administration of any of the tests, the conclusion and arrest become suspect. The One-Legged Stand (OLS), The Walk and Turn (WAT), and The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) are the standard tests, while many officers may also ask you recite the alphabet backwards.  These tests are designed to allow the officer to observe an individual’s movements, balance, coordination, and listening comprehension in order to make a determination as to potential intoxication.  But without appropriate instruction and administration it is extremely difficult to accurately assess a driver.

Possible Consequences of a DUI Conviction

-          Ticket fines

-          State surcharges

-          Insurance increase

-          Loss of license

-          Jail time

-          Criminal conviction
Pennsylvania has a program called the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) which allows for first time DUI offenders to potentially resolve their matter without a DUI conviction.   An attorney can tell you whether you are eligible for the program, help you to resolve the matter with prosecutors, and to enter the program.

It is important to understand that DWI/DUI law is not treated the same in every state.  Between New Jersey and Pennsylvania specifically, a DUI in Pennsylvania is a criminal offense, whereas a DWI in NewJersey is a traffic matter.  As such, Pennsylvania will not recognize a New Jersey conviction because they reasonably refuse to apply a motor vehicle conviction as a criminal one.  In this situation, as well as most others involving an arrest in one state and residency in another, the consequences are that much more complicated.  The assistance of a knowledgeable attorney is vital in the management of such a case.

Why Do I Need a Lawyer?

An experienced attorney can:

-          Perform discovery:  obtain police reports, request available police video, analyze Breathalyzer data, review police certifications

-          Analyze the Field Sobriety Test and determine whether based upon police reports and available videos if “reasonable suspicion” existed for an officer to continue the Field Sobriety Test.

-          Evaluate whether Field Sobriety Tests were administered correctly by the officer.

-          Retain expert witnesses and reports

There are many steps in a DUI arrest.  The vast majority must be done correctly for the Commonwealth to make its case.  At the Law Offices of Greg Prosmushkin, P.C. we will find their mistakes and aggressively fight for you.

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