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

Continuation from RGS&G Newsletter:

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.