What To Do When Arrested For Driving Under The Influence (DUI) - Bob's Nightmare

By: William E. Moore
August 31, 2011

As I left the picnic grove, I remember thinking that this was probably the most fun I've had at an office picnic in many years.  I drank a few more beers than I usually do at these affairs; however, since I was playing softball and volleyball most of the afternoon, I figured I was okay to drive.  The sun was just beginning to set around 8:00 p.m. on the summer evening.  The top was down and the radio was blaring my favorite tunes as I thought about all the fun I had at the picnic.  I was surprised when the four point buck jumped into the roadway causing me to swerve and drive into a ditch.  As I got out to survey the damage to my vehicle, the local police arrived to investigate.  As I was explaining the story about this rather large deer that jumped into my path, I was interrupted with the question, "Have you been drinking Sir"?  I explained to the officer that I had a couple of beers at the office picnic and was in control of my vehicle until this deer ran into my path.  He asked me to perform some field sobriety tests.  The next thing I know, he placed me under arrest, handcuffed me and put me in the back of his police car saying, "Sir, you are under arrest for DUI and we are taking you for a blood test".  At that moment, I realized the gravity of the situation.  The fun and joy of that afternoon was going to end in a nightmare.

While at Grand View Hospital, the officer advised me of something called "implied consent law" and told me if I did not allow my blood to be tested I would lose my license for one year.  I thought about not having the test because I figured I probably had a few beers more than I normally would at an office picnic.  However, I agreed to the test.  I was taken back to the police department and was fingerprinted and photographed.  Approximately two hours after my nightmare began, my wife was called to pick me up and take me home.

I didn't hear another thing about this event for four weeks.  I began to believe it was all just a bad dream and that maybe my blood was under the legal limit and therefore, I would not hear anything more about this.  Just when I had convinced myself the event was in the past, I received a Summons in the mail advising me to appear before the local district magistrate to answer for the charge of DUI.  According to the Criminal Complaint, my blood alcohol was a .163.  As I read the Complaint, my mind was racing, "what would I do about my traveling sales job"?  I was on the road three and four days a week and this could affect my livelihood and maybe I would be terminated from my job.  My knees began to buckle, and I got a sick feeling in my stomach.

Later that evening I told my wife about receiving the Complaint in the mail.  She again reminded me of how my poor decision making was going to adversely affect our family.  Would our oldest daughter have to cancel her plans to go to college because her father was going to lose his job?  Would we have to sell our home so we could "downsize"?  How could this be happening to our family?  This is something that always happens to the other guy, not me.  I have always exercised caution when drinking and driving.  I really did think I was okay to drive because of all the energy I exerted at the picnic.

If this story sounds familiar, it is a scenario that plays out in the Suburbs of Philadelphia every day.  The facts may change slightly, but the end result, arrest and prosecution, does not.  Individuals who would never even begin to think about stealing, dealing drugs or committing crimes of violence, find themselves in this situation.  It is just a matter of good people exercising bad judgment compounded by unfortunate circumstances.  If Bob had not had the misfortune of having a deer cross his path, he most assuredly would have driven home and the whole story would have been a delightful day with a happy ending.  Unfortunately, one cannot always anticipate unfortunate circumstances.

When Bob came to my office for a consultation, he was distraught and worried about how this would impact his future.  I thoroughly explained the Driving Under the Influence laws to him, discussed possible defenses to his case, and alleviated many of his fears.

Driving After Imbibing (still referred to as DUI) is a serious offense.  Recently there have been articles in the newspaper of young people losing their lives in accidents involving excess speed, drugs and alcohol.  The events can sometimes be tragic.  Thankfully, the vast majority of drunk drivers do not have such a tragic ending.  But there are still legal consequences with financial and employment ramifications.

Anyone who finds themselves in this unfortunate predicament should immediately seek legal counsel.  An experienced criminal defense attorney can assess your situation.  He or she can determine whether you have a legal defense to the crime.  For example: In Bob's situation, as you recall, he was on the side of the road when the police arrived.  The police did not see him drive the vehicle and therefore, did not know how long he had been on the side of the road.  In order for the blood results to be admissible against him in a criminal proceeding, they must be obtained within two hours of him having operated the motor vehicle.  The Commonwealth (Police) has the burden of proving that they have met this requirement.  Assuming the police had complied with the law and made a legal arrest and the blood was drawn within two hours at the hospital, then the results would be admissible.  If Bob had decided not to allow the police to take the blood, which is his right, he would have lost his driving privileges for one year irrespective of the final outcome of the Driving Under the Influence charge.  He would still have been charged with a DUI, and if the police were able to prove that he was under the influence, he would lose his license for an additional year consecutive to the first year for a total of two years' loss of license.  Thus, Bob made the right decision in submitting to a blood test.

As you may recall, Bob's blood result was .163 just over the .16 line for the highest tier of intoxication under the law.  Because the level was so close, he might have the opportunity for what is called a downward departure.  There is error in every measurement and this measurement was close.  There is a chance the matter could be negotiated to a blood level under .16 which would put him in the lower tier which carries a 48 hour term in jail instead of a 72 hour term.  Additionally, if Bob has no prior record, he may qualify for Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition, a pretrial diversion program which would allow him to avoid a conviction and have a license suspension of two months instead of one year.  Following the successful completion of the ARD Program, he would then be able to apply to have his record expunged.

If Bob had the misfortune of having a prior DUI or ARD conviction within ten years of the new arrest, then the second case becomes a second offense which carries higher penalties and longer loss of license.  In this type of situation, Bob may have a drinking problem that could be addressed with inpatient placement.  Inpatient placement can be substituted, at the discretion of the judge, for the mandatory jail time.  Some counties also offer a house-arrest alternative which allows individuals to go to work every day but then immediately return home and be confined at their residences.

As you can see, there are many twists and turns in the defense of a DUI case.  It is critical to obtain representation of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg and Gifford has five attorneys who have extensive criminal defense experience.  Four of these attorneys are former prosecutors and are familiar with the prosecution policies in Bucks, Montgomery, Lehigh, Chester and Delaware counties.  Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg and Gifford offers free consultations at which your rights will be explained and all of your options explored.  If you think we may be of assistance to you, please do not hesitate to call our office and schedule a free consultation.  I know Bob is glad he did.