Why You Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer If You Are Facing Pennsylvania DUI Charges
If you face charges for DUI, you have the right to hire a lawyer of your choosing who will defend your freedom. Here are the most important reasons why you need a criminal defense lawyer.
DUI Charges Can Come With Serious Consequences
It may cost you up to $20,000 to defend yourself against DUI charges, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. These costs include:
Vehicle towing expenses
Increased car insurance premiums
Alcohol education and treatment
Pennsylvania has a mandatory minimum jail term for first offenses. If this is your second DUI, you will face between five days and six months in jail.
You may also be ordered to complete community service or alcohol treatment. If you lose your driving privileges, you may not have transportation to get to work. A criminal conviction can also affect your social life and your custodial rights to your children.
If your DUI incident involved an accident, you may be subject to the strictest penalties that people with very high BACs can receive, even if your BAC was not that high.
Field Sobriety Tests Are Notoriously Unreliable
Pennsylvania law enforcement officers often conduct standardized field sobriety tests to obtain evidence of impairment by alcohol. These tests are supposed to help law enforcement officers detect alcohol impairment. The three tests include:
Horizontal gaze nystagmus test — The officer holds a small object approximately 12 to 15 inches from your nose and asks you to track it with your eyes. Meanwhile, the officer will look for involuntary eye movements.
Walk-and-turn test — The officer instructs you to take several heel-to-toe steps, turn, and walk back to your starting point. The officer looks for signs of imbalance.
One-leg stand test — The officer instructs you to raise one leg about six inches off the ground until he or she tells you to put it down. The officer will look for balance issues.
Despite the wide acceptance of these tests by the law enforcement community, they are not always reliable. Additionally, people may fail these tests due to factors other than impairment, such as:
Difficulty understanding English
If other factors caused you to perform poorly on these tests or the law enforcement officer did not follow proper protocol when administering these tests, a DUI defense lawyer can raise appropriate defenses to challenge the evidence against you.
Blood or Breath Testing Might Not Yield Accurate Results
A blood alcohol concentration reading above the legal limit is not always due to intoxication. It can be due to factors such as:
Improperly administered preliminary breath test
Incorrectly calibrated machines
Improper protocol or mistakes with lab workers
Faulty breath analyzer machine
Incorrectly maintained equipment
In order to make sure the tests were done correctly and fairly, you need to work with a reputable lawyer who can collect the necessary evidence.
Any Defense Is Better Than No Defense
Even if you think the case against you is strong, a DUI defense lawyer is familiar with the legal process and what the prosecution must prove. Hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer may give you leverage. If you simply plead guilty, the prosecutor will have no incentive to give you a lighter sentence or consider an alternative like alcohol treatment.
However, if you have a skilled DUI defense lawyer on your side, the prosecutor may be worried about going to trial and may offer a favorable plea bargain in your case.
If you need help with your DUI case or would like to explore your possible legal defenses, contact us at Kalasnik Law Office LLC. We have the experience you need to handle your DUI case.