Drunk Driving (DUI)
Drunk driving is illegal in every state, and is usually known as the crime of driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI). In some states, different terms are used, for example "driving while impaired" or "operating while impaired." Pennsylvania refers to the offense as DUI, but recognizes offenses termed otherwise form other states and territories.
Regardless of the terminology, the crime is the same: it's drunk driving. Driving drunk can result in fines, the temporary or permanent loss of a driver's license, as well as jail time, higher insurance premiums, and civil responsibility for the physical harm to persons and property as a result of a car accident.
A Driver May Not Know That He Is Legally Drunk
Whether or not someone is legally driving drunk does not depend upon personal perception: the law will look to the driver's blood alcohol content (BAC) to determine whether or not he's legally impaired. Oftentimes, a driver does not feel drunk even though his BAC is over the legal limit.
Blood alcohol content is the amount of alcohol in the driver's blood at the time of testing. The old adage that some "hold their liquor" better than others is true: genetics and body fat percentage are two of the many factors that impact how well an individual's body tolerates and assimilates alcohol. Only by testing of the blood can an accurate assessment be made on an individual's blood alcohol content.
For this reason, drivers are routinely asked by police to take Breathalyzer tests when they have been pulled over for suspected drunk driving. In Pennsylvania, and most other states, if the blood-alcohol reading is 0.08% or higher, the driver is automatically in violation of the law and will be charged accordingly. At that BAC level, the driver is legally presumed to be intoxicated.
In many states, Pennsylvania included, drivers 21 years old or younger can be charged for driving drunk with a blood-alcohol reading as low as 0.02%. Many jurisdictions have enacted "zero-tolerance laws" and those under the age of 21 with any alcohol in their system are presumed to be intoxicated, driving under the influence, and are summarily arrested.
Defending Against A Drunk Driving Charge
Criminal defense attorneys heartily discourage their clients from voluntarily undergoing blood alcohol content testing, no matter how persuasive the police office might be at the time. This is true even if state law holds that a refusal to take the test will result in automatic suspension of one's license for a set period of months.
It is true that refusing a Breathalyzer test will not prevent a DUI arrest. Officers may also check for impairment using a variety of field sobriety tests -- such as reciting the alphabet or walking a straight line. However, these tests are much easier to defend against than the concrete BAC percentages revealed by the machine, and no defense attorney wants to fight against tested BAC percentages.
The Firm has considerable experience in these matters in Northumberland County, Snyder County, Union County, Montour County, Lycoming County, Clinton County, Tiaoga County, Bradford County, Lycoming County, and throughout the state.
For More Information
- Pennsylvania DUI Fines and Sentencing
- Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles – Driver and Vehicle Services
- Mothers Against Drunk Driving
- National Commission Against Drunk Driving
- Insurance Institute For Highway Safety
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- Pennsylvania DUI Association
- Students Against Destructive Decisions