There are a multitude of defenses for your DUI. You must first, before even exploring these issues, seek the wise counsel of a DUI lawyer to make sure you have the proper aggressive DUI lawyer.
Suppression issues in a DUI involve, primarily, the violations regarding your rights. Suppression motions are formal requests by your DUI lawyer to exclude certain evidence for consideration by the judge and/or jury. These motions rely upon the U.S. Constitution and the Pennsylvania Constitution.
Suppression of Stop
The first basis for a suppression motion is whether you were illegally pulled over, there is potential to suppress the “stop” and, subsequently, have all other evidence suppressed. The officer must have a basis for pulling you over and it must be credible (credibility is an issue at suppression motions).
These issues primarily relate to the driving behavior of the individual. Officers frequently pull people over for ridiculous reasons just to see if a person is driving under the influence. Also, there is a host of case law that discusses the distance/time that an officer must observe the driving prior to pulling someone over and frequently the police do not follow a person long enough.
The officer must have probable cause to arrest an individual. For example, an officer cannot just pull you over, speak to you briefly, and arrest you. They must have probable cause for an arrest.
This probable cause is generally built up through statements made at the scene by the DUI defendant, officer’s observations of impairments (i.e. glassy eyes, slurred speech, poor balance), and driving behavior. But, an officer can’t just stop you and arrest you without additional “indicia” of impairment.
Providing breath and blood pursuant to a DUI is considered a search. If such a request is illegal, the results can be suppressed.
Fruit of the Poisonous Tree
The bottom line — Any evidence (included breath and blood tests) gathered as a result of an illegal search will be excluded from evidence.
Field Sobriety Tests
Typically, the police or Pennsylvania State Troopers will first perform a series or battery of field tests, known as the “Standard Field Sobriety Tests”. The field sobriety tests were developed and published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(NHTSA). These tests are a screening tool for the police to try and gather evidence against you and charge you with a DUI. Frequently, they are used to try and create a case for “impairment” of the driver. However, these tests are notoriously inaccurate, ill- explained, and not interpreted properly. Frequently, however, Pennsylvania courts sometimes blindly accept a direct relationship between the results of field sobriety tests and a driver’s impairment or incapability of safe driving due to alcohol.
Additional issues with the Field Sobriety Tests include,
- Conditions of the environment during the Field Sobriety Tests
- Any physical ailments of the DUI defendant
- The certification of the police or State Trooper in administering the tests
- The instructions of administration of the tests (which are done improperly approximately 50% of
- Which tests the officer chose to perform (and were they required)
- Walk and Turn Test
- One-Leg Stand Test
- Finger to Nose Test
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test
- Were you “graded” by the officer or Trooper on items not included in the instructions?
- Did they use a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE)?
More Defenses in a DUI
Chemical testing in a DUI are done by breath, blood, or urine. Numerous issues can arise in the administration and testing. These issues include:
- How long the blood and breath DUI tests occurred after the stop and arrest.
- Calibration of the breath machine
- Certification & training of the person drawing blood
- Who validated the testing of the blood
- What did the blood results show and are they accurate
- Where is the toxicology checklist
- What was the chain of custody of the blood
Frequently, you may need an expert (ask your DUI lawyer) to fight the poor testing, interpretation of the results, and the procedures used in the testing.
Even after suppression motions, a trial can help flesh out the case to get you to reasonable doubt.
Remember — the standard is “beyond a reasonable doubt”. Your DUI lawyer should create that doubt through cross-examination, direct testimony, and argument.