Because drunk driving takes so many lives every year throughout Pennsylvania and the rest of the nation, law enforcement agents and court officials will likely come down hard on you if they suspect you have been operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol. Such situations often lack clarity, however, for situations are not always as they seem. For instance, you may have taken a cold medicine or used mouthwash that caused a breath test to register positive for alcohol.
Local, state and federal governments often implement certain tools and programs in the hope of reducing the number of drunk driving collisions and arrests that take place on the nation's roadways. Facing DUI charges does not necessarily mean the court will convict you for the crime. The better you understand your rights and the stronger support network you have in place, the likelier you will be able to mitigate your circumstances.
Be aware for DUI laws before driving
The blood alcohol concentration limit that crosses you over the line from legally operating a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol and being at risk for a DUI conviction is .08 percent. This percentage labels you as legally intoxicated, and therefore, prohibited from driving. The following list includes additional DUI facts and programs meant to deter you and all motorists from driving under the influence of alcohol:
- Police use roadblocks, otherwise known as sobriety checkpoints, to conduct impromptu checks on motorists to try to catch drunk drivers in the act.
- You are not legally obligated to submit to a preliminary alcohol screening or field sobriety test.
- A PAS is different from a Breathalyzer or other chemical test, both of which would apply to implied consent rules wherein you would risk administrative penalties for refusal.
- As a first-time offender in Pennsylvania, the court may require you to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. This tool prevents you from starting your car unless you first test negative for alcohol on your breath.
- There are also intervention and substance abuse programs in place, not only to help those with alcohol addictions but as part of alternative sentencing systems as well. If the court convicts you of DUI, the judge may require you to complete one or more programs.
Facing Pennsylvania DUI charges can have immediate and long-term negative effects on your life. If there was a collision involved that caused injury to another person, you will have your work cut out to try to avoid conviction.
Even if there was no accident, a police officer may have pulled you over in a traffic stop. If he or she saw a beer can on the floor of your car, asked you to take a field test -- which you did not perform well -- and placed you under arrest, you may still have several defense options available to keep from going to jail or losing your driver's license.