Understanding DUI Tests

In 2020, 18,412 people were arrested for DUI in the state of Pennsylvania. If you get pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence, the officers will likely try and have you perform sobriety tests out in the field. As the driver, you have certain rights and obligations pertaining to these tests. There are things to keep in mind if you do get pulled over and end up facing a potential DUI charge.

A DUI charge is not something you want to face alone, especially if you feel that the sobriety tests were administered improperly. In this case, having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side can help you fight the charge, starting with the tests that were done after you were pulled over.

At The Law Offices of John Della Rocca, I have more than two decades of experience working with clients in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the surrounding areas of Delaware County, Montgomery County, Bucks County, Chester County, as well as communities throughout New Jersey and guiding them through the criminal justice system. I’ve dedicated my practice to providing the highest level of legal guidance and representation to anyone in need, always aiming to find you a solution.

Implied Consent in Pennsylvania

Some drivers in Pennsylvania may be unaware of what is called implied consent. By law, any person licensed to drive in Pennsylvania is deemed to have given their consent to one or more breath tests or blood tests if — and only if — the driver is legally detained under the suspicion of driving under the influence. If you, the driver, refuse testing, the officer can obtain a search warrant to obtain a blood sample to determine what your blood alcohol content (BAC) level is.  You can also lose your driving privileges for a year for refusing chemical testing.

Types of Sobriety Tests

If you get pulled over under the suspicion of driving under the influence, there are a few different sobriety tests that can be administered:

  1. The horizontal gaze nystagmus test (HGN) is when the police officer checks your eye movement with a light or by having your vision follow a pen.
  2. The walk and turn test checks your ability to walk in a straight line.
  3. The one-leg stand test checks your balance by having you raise one foot off of the ground while balancing on the other.

Being under the influence can affect your ability to pass any of these tests, but so can other things, such as nerves and general poor balance. For this reason, having an attorney helps fight any DUI charge that results from a test that was administered poorly.

The Best Defense

Roll the tape! The camera doesn't lie! One of the best ways to contest an officer's description of the field sobriety results is BodyCam footage or the Motor Vehicle Recording.  I cannot tell you how many times a police report describes a DUI suspect as "bombed."  Yet, when the tape was played in court, it showed someone who appeared completely sober.  The result...NOT GUILTY!   

Consequences of Test Refusal

While you are within your right to refuse a sobriety test, there are consequences to such a refusal. The state can contact the Department of Transportation and impose a license suspension. Once that suspension is over, an ignition interlock device must be installed in your car for one year. Once that is all over, you will have to apply for reinstatement and pay a fine. In addition to all of this, there may be additional criminal penalties if you are convicted of a DUI. These consequences can increase if this is not your first incident.

Get the Experienced DUI Defense You Need

When it comes to navigating the criminal justice system, having an attorney to fight your case is crucial. An attorney who is experienced with the nuances of your state and local laws is even better at helping you fight for a better case result.

At The Law Offices of John Della Rocca, I am committed to protecting your rights in any criminal situation, including a DUI. If you are in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, or the surrounding areas of Delaware County, Montgomery County, Bucks County, Chester County, and find yourself facing a DUI charge, contact my office today for a free consultation to discuss your case.


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