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How to Get DUI Charges Dropped or Dismissed in Pennsylvania

28 Mar 2024, by Madison Foltz in Criminal Defense, DUI
Alternative Penalties in a Pennsylvania DUI Case

Written by Timothy Czekaj

Driving under the influence (commonly known as DUI) is a serious offense in most states in the US. Apart from the present discomfort a DUI charge may cause, the implication of the charge on your record can have serious consequences in the future. Your best bet is to get the DUI charge dismissed and thrown out.

At Czekaj Law LLC, we are committed to providing you with the best representation on all legal matters. With more than a decade long experience, we are poised to help you fight your DUI. In our many years serving in Pennsylvania courts and counties, here are a few tips we have found helpful in getting your DUI charges dropped or dismissed.

Challenge the Traffic Stop

The first step in any DUI charge is establishing that the police officer had probable cause for stopping one’s vehicle. Both the officer’s suspicion and probable cause must hold up under scrutiny in court.

What constitutes probable cause or reasonable suspicion? A driver may be stopped if the officer observes any of the following:

  • Reckless driving.
  • Going over the speed limit.
  • Running a stop sign.

Under the Fourth Amendment, a judge may order the dismissal of any evidence obtained from the traffic stop if the arresting officer lacked reasonable suspicion.

Challenge the Field Sobriety Test

For DUI charges, the officer is required to carry out a field sobriety test, which could be one or two activities to ensure the driver is capable of driving and one’s judgment is not impaired by alcohol or drugs. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has established specific protocols that must be followed when conducting these tests. Three tests are generally recognized and acceptable by law:

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

In this test, the officer asks the driver in question to follow an object, such as a finger, a pen, or a flashlight with their eyes as the object moves through the driver’s horizontal field of vision. It is assumed that anyone under the influence will be unable to keep their eyes still.

Walk and Turn

Here, the officer asks the driver to walk a short distance in a straight line with one foot following the other, then turn and walk straight back towards them.

One Leg Stand

In this test, the driver is asked to stand on one leg for 30 seconds. If they are unable to do so on account of intoxication, they are charged with a DUI.

How to Challenge Field Sobriety Test Results

These tests are subject to scrutiny and any attorney worth his salt should work to disprove their effectiveness. If you are facing a DUI charge and took any of these tests, take note of the following:

  • Was the sidewalk or path uneven or wobbly?
  • Was the area well-lit?
  • Were your shoes comfortable to walk in?
  • Do you have a pre-existing medical condition that makes it hard to focus on an object or stand on one leg?

The state’s prosecutor may drop the charges if it is established that any of the aforementioned conditions were not considered when administering the sobriety tests.

Contest Chemical Results

Apart from the sobriety tests that involve some physical activities as mentioned above, the law also allows law enforcement to carry out biochemical analysis of a driver suspected of driving under the influence.

For example, during a traffic stop, a police officer may conduct a breath test using a breathalyzer. However, in the case of an accident, first responders are required to perform a blood alcohol concentration test (BAC) where they draw blood from the driver and take it to a lab for analysis.

These tests can also be contested as they are prone to human error. Your attorney can challenge the chain of custody of the blood sample and determine if it was contaminated in any way. They may also inquire if the breathalyzer was properly used and calibrated.

Pre-Trial Strategies

If the prosecutor chooses to go on with filing the charges and takes it to trial, there are other ways to ensure the DUI charge doesn’t permanently blemish your reputation. The most common way is to enter a plea bargain. This is a situation where the offender pleads guilty to a less serious offense in this case it could be reckless driving or a misdemeanor.

Enter a DUI Diversion Program

For first-time offenders charged with a DUI, the state of Pennsylvania allows you to enroll on an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program. This allows many first-time offenders to get their charges dismissed or reduced. The ARD program involves a few requirements:

  • Attend meetings with a probation officer or sponsor.
  • Be free of alcohol or drug use.
  • Ensure you are present at all court-mandated appearances.
  • Enroll and complete an alcohol or drug-free program. 

Call Czekaj Law LLC for Help Getting a DUI Dismissed Today

The circumstances surrounding a DUI charge differ from one person to another, and what works for one defendant may not work for another. Also, it may be difficult to jump through the different legal hoops involved in getting rid of a DUI charge on your own.

At Czekaj Law LLC, our legal professionals will fight for you and ensure your constitutional rights are upheld and respected.

Call 717-275-9770 or contact us to schedule a free consultation.

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