What are the Common Types of Holiday Drunk Driving Defenses?

December 22, 2020

Between mid-November and the beginning of January, many drivers are charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Pennsylvania. In fact, DUI arrests tend to increase from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, as well as highway fatalities related to drinking and driving. That is why law enforcement officials are on the lookout for signs of drunk motorists on the roadways.

Being accused of a DUI around the holidays can lead to severe penalties if the accusation turns into a conviction. Drivers convicted of DUI can expect penalties ranging from fines and loss of license to prison time and mandatory classes. Yet, some drivers charged with DUI and their criminal defense lawyers are able to successfully defend themselves against the charges. The following are the most commonly used defenses when someone has been accused of driving while intoxicated:

The Stop was Not Lawful: Except in the case of roadblocks and DUI checkpoints, officers must have probable cause to pull over drivers or require a breathalyzer, field sobriety test, or blood alcohol content (BAC) level test. If a motorist can prove that the officer had no reason to pull the driver over in the first place, a DUI case could be thrown out. This is true even if the driver showed a BAC level at or above the limit of 0.08 percent.

The Driver was Not Initially Drunk: A driver at a holiday party who drinks alcohol may be sober upon getting behind the wheel. The effects could take a while to push the motorist over the legal BAC limit. If the driver was stopped by law enforcement when driving to a location just a short distance away, the driver may become drunk during the stop. In other words, had the driver not been pulled over, the driver would have made it to the destination without violating the law.

The Tests were Not Properly Given: Officers can make mistakes when initiating field sobriety and breathalyzer tests. They might even use breathalyzer equipment known to be faulty or inconsistent. If a driver and lawyer can prove that this occurred, the DUI charges might be dropped.

The Bloodwork was Not Handled Correctly: What if the people taking and processing blood work on behalf of an accused drunk driver did not follow outlined procedures? The DUI accusation might be deemed invalid without supporting blood work evidence.

The Driver was Given Alcohol Without Knowing It: A host could give a partygoer a drink that was supposed to be non-alcoholic, but instead contained alcohol. The partygoer might not notice if it were in the form of a mixed drink or punch. Upon driving home, this person might be stopped by police and legitimately not realize the problem. Witnesses from the gathering could potentially help support this type of defense.

Tips to Avoid Drunk Driving

The easiest way to avoid a DUI charge during the holidays is to take precautionary measures and never get behind the wheel after drinking. Having a designated driver, using third-party rideshare options, and spending the night at the host’s house are foolproof ways not to drive drunk. However, anyone who is charged with DUI should take the accusation seriously. Having a record that contains a DUI charge can lead to loss of employment, inability to rent an apartment, and other serious problems. Therefore, drivers charged with DUI should contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately.

West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyers at the Law Offices of Heather J. Mattes Help Those Charged with Driving Under the Influence

If you were charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania, speak with a West Chester criminal defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Heather J. Mattes. For a free consultation, call 610-431-7900 or contact us online. Located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Montgomery County, Bucks County, Lehigh County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Philadelphia County.

Heather Mattes Map