After an arrest for driving under the influence, you may have a lot of questions about the next steps in the legal process. Combined with the fear of how a DUI will affect your future, you probably feel anxious and overwhelmed. You need to call a DUI defense attorney to figure out your legal options.
Carbon County DUI lawyer Steven Kellis has over 25 years of experience representing clients who have been charged with DUI. Before becoming a defense attorney, Steven was a prosecutor. As such, he knows the court system inside and out. Because of his relationships with the court, he can provide you with an excellent defense to get the best outcome for your case. Contact him today for a free consultation.
A DUI checkpoint is a roadblock where police officers stop each vehicle that comes through to detect driver intoxication. Unlike DUI stops where an officer pulls over a specific driver, checkpoints are random.
In Lehighton, Palmerton, Jim Thorpe, and the rest of Carbon County, DUI checkpoints are legal if they are well marked, visible, and stationary roadblocks. Police cannot “hide” or decide whom to pull over based on their own discretion. They must follow objective administrative standards that dictate which vehicles to stop. DUI checkpoints are legal if they:
- Were authorized by administration
- Provide sufficient advanced warning (“DUI checkpoint ahead”)
- Are brief and do not include a physical search
- Were chosen based on areas known for driver intoxication
If any of the above requirements are not met, evidence that the police officer collected at the checkpoint may be thrown out. If you suspect you were illegally stopped and searched at a Pennsylvania DUI checkpoint, contact Steven Kellis for a case evaluation and advice for legal action going forward.
Pennsylvania is an implied consent state. That means once you get your license and take to the road, you automatically consent to any chemical test an officer requests. Often, this means a breathalyzer test to determine your BAC. But in some cases, especially when they suspect drugs are involved, they may instead order a blood or urine test.
It’s important to understand that an officer cannot prosecute you for refusing to take a field sobriety test. These tests are much less reliable than breath and blood testing, which do come with harsh penalties should you refuse them.
If you refuse a breath or blood alcohol test, your license will be suspended for 12 months. That’s on top of any additional penalties you may face for driving under the influence. Therefore, you could go two years or more without a license if you’re found guilty of DUI.
When a Carbon County police officer pulls you over, they may also conduct a field sobriety test to determine if you are intoxicated past the legal limit of a 0.08% BAC. The three sobriety tests approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are:
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test
This test allows a police officer to gauge whether or not a driver is under the influence by moving an object back and forth in front of their eyes. The officer will observe the angle at which the driver’s eye exhibits “early onset nystagmus” — involuntary eye jerking at or before a 45-degree angle which indicates a high blood alcohol level.
One-Leg Stand Test
Pennsylvania police officers use this test to determine if a person has a BAC of .10% or higher. They first demonstrate the test and ask if the driver understands the instructions. They will then ask the driver to perform the test by raising one leg with their foot parallel and about six inches from the ground. The officer will then ask you to hold your hands by your side and count until they ask you to stop.
During the test, the police officer will observe if the driver uses their arms for balance, sways, or puts their foot on the ground. Not being able to balance properly is a sign of intoxication, and if the officer notices you doing these, they can arrest you for drunk driving.
After demonstrating how to perform this test, the police officer will ask you to place one foot in front of the other with the heel of one foot touching the other foot. Counting their steps, they will then walk nine heel-to-toe steps in a straight line, at the end of which they will turn and return to the beginning point by taking another nine steps.
During the test, the officer will look for the following clues of intoxication:
- Stepping off the walking line
- Failing to walk with the toe of one foot touching the heel of the other
- Beginning or ending the test before being told to do so
- Using arms to balance
- Taking an incorrect number of steps
Problems with DUI Tests
Although breathalyzers and field sobriety tests (FTEs) are commonly used by police officers across the country, their reliability leaves much to be desired. Extensive laboratory research conducted by NHTSA discovered that the HGN test is 77% accurate, the walk-and-turn test is 68% accurate, and the one-leg stand test is only 65% accurate. That means that even in ideal circumstances when the one-leg stand test is performed correctly, results will be inaccurate more than a third of the time.
Field sobriety tests often result in innocent people being arrested for a crime they did not commit. And even if a driver has had a couple of drinks, these test results can skew reality and make them appear more intoxicated than they are.
If you believe your test results were flawed or inaccurate, contact Carbon County DUI lawyer Steven Kellis today. As a Pennsylvania lawyer, Mr. Kellis knows the complexities of field sobriety tests and will work to have your DUI charge reduced or expunged. Call him at (215) 543-6566 today for a free case consultation.
For a first-time DUI with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 to 0.09, you could face six months of probation and a $300 fine; the law says no license suspension or prison sentence is mandatory. For a second offense of the same BAC, you could face anywhere from five days to six months in jail, fines of $300 to $2,500, and a license suspension of 12 months. A third and subsequent offense results in 10 days to two years in jail, 12-month license suspension, and fines of $500 to $5,000.
These penalties increase if you have a higher blood alcohol content and if you caused any injury or property damage. Moreover, for second and third-time offenders, installing an ignition interlock device in your vehicle is mandatory. You will also be required to attend an alcohol safety class and treatment program, and may also face community service.
No matter which number DUI this is for you, calling a Carbon County DUI lawyer is very important. They can inform you of your legal rights and help you decide what your best course of action is.
The Court Process
Your first appearance in court will be a preliminary hearing in which you enter a plea with the court. It’s vital you have an attorney by your side during this process. Giving in and pleading guilty without a bargain on the table is one of the worst decisions you can make, and generally, only your attorney can work out a plea deal on your behalf.
If you choose to fight your charges, your attorney will begin reviewing evidence and interviewing witnesses, including the arresting officer. From there, they will determine what, if any, evidence was gathered inappropriately, and file motions to have it suppressed or tossed out altogether. In some cases, an examination of the evidence can lead to the whole case being thrown out.
From there, your attorney will either fight the charges on your behalf or work on a plea deal with the state. Your attorney will present your options to you and advise you during this process. It’s important to heed their advice, as a conviction could have serious consequences on your life – including obtaining employment and housing.
Talk To a Carbon County DUI Lawyer Today
If you have been charged with DUI, don’t trust just any attorney to represent you. Carbon County DWI lawyer Steven Kellis has over 25 years of experience defending clients in local courts. Call today for a free, no-obligation consultation.