Every day I speak with people who have been charged with Driving Under the Influence (“DUI”) and think that because they were driving drunk and got pulled over, they have to plead guilty. They are often surprised to learn that there are often defenses to many DUI cases.
First, if you don’t have a record, sometimes it is best to take a deal and enter the ARD program. When a defendant does not have a record and was not involved in a serious accident, the Commonwealth will usually offer ARD. ARD stands for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition. The program involves serving a short period of probation, a license suspension, and paying fines and court costs. The defendant does not have to plead guilty to enter into the ARD program, and the arrest and case will be expunged if the defendant successfully completes the program. If the defendant fails to complete the probation, then the defendant will be removed from the program and retain the right to litigate pretrial motions or proceed to trial. Even when the evidence suggests a strong defense, ARD is often a good option because it provides the only guarantee of an expungement at the end of the case. ARD is typically only available for someone who does not have any prior convictions, and it is rarely offered twice. The Commonwealth often offers ARD for non-DUI misdemeanors.
Second, if ARD is not offered or the defendant wishes to fight the case, there are a number of potential defenses that an experienced criminal defense and DUI attorney may be able to present. These defenses include motions to suppress. The motion to suppress is a motion filed by the defense attorney arguing that because the police engaged in some unlawful conduct, such as stopping or searching the defendant illegally, the evidence of intoxication such as the blood test should be excluded at trial. Other potential defenses may include speedy trial motions, double jeopardy motions, and motions to exclude testing results due to a failure to properly calibrate the testing equipment. Additionally, there are many other complicated procedural rules which the police and prosecutor have to follow in order to bring a successful prosecution. The failure to follow each one of these rules could result in the dismissal of the case or exclusion of the evidence. Finally, if pre-trial motions do not result in dismissal of the charges, an experienced defense attorney may be able to challenge the Commonwealth’s evidence that the defendant actually operated the vehicle or was intoxicated.
DUI carries the potential for serious penalties in terms of mandatory minimum incarceration periods, criminal records, and license suspension. If you are charged with DUI in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, you need an experienced, aggressive criminal defense attorney who knows the law inside and out and can review your case for all possible defenses. You need an attorney who does not handle these cases “part-time.” Your freedom, driver’s license, and reputation depend on it. If you have been charged with DUI in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, contact the Philadelphia DUI defense lawyers of Goldstein Mehta LLC for a free consultation today.
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