March 2011 Archives

March 31, 2011

Was Your BAC Under the Legal Limit (.08) in Pennsylvania? Think You Won't Be Prosecuted for DUI? Think Again. (Part I of II)

Imagine, you are on your way home from a casual happy hour with co-workers. You get pulled over by the local police department in your Pennsylvania county on suspicion of drunk driving. When you get pulled over, you know you've had a few drinks too many to be driving. You are a bit nervous and scared, but you manage to maintain your composure. You make sure to treat the police officer respectfully and follow all of his instructions. You know you aren't completely intoxicated and can still function. The cop asks you to step out of the vehicle. He asks "have you been drinking sir." You respond, "yes, officer I had a couple beers at the bar down the street." Of course you think honesty is the best policy. After that, the officer asks you to perform certain balancing and coordination tests. He calls them "field sobriety tests." You perform all the field sobriety tests to the best of your ability. You walk nine steps heel-to-toe successfully and you stand on one leg successfully for 30 seconds. You even touch your fingertip to your nose every single time. Then, the officer says "sir, you are under arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, I am going to take you back to the hospital for chemical testing of your blood." The cop then handcuffs you and transports you to the hospital in the back of the police car to draw blood. When you get to the hospital, you agree to submit to a blood test. The officer reads warnings to you that say you will lose your license if you don't give blood. You are then brought back to the police station, fingerprinted and booked. This is your first encounter ever with law enforcement. You have never been through anything like this before. The next day you wake up and go to work. You try to act like everything is normal but you can't stop thinking about your DUI. All the ramifications of this are running through your head. "What if I go to jail? Will I lose my license? Will I lose my job? Will I have a criminal record? I need to speak to a lawyer."

A week later, after not hearing anything about your DUI, you get a notice in the mail. It says your case is set for a preliminary hearing in two weeks at your local District Court. You show up to your court date. By this time you've hired an attorney and at the preliminary hearing, the police officer produces the lab report and shows it to your lawyer. Your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) was a .072%. You know the legal limit in Pennsylvania is .08%, you don't have to be a lawyer to know that. You say to yourself "thank God, I'm under the legal limit, this is all over now." I've got some bad news for you, think again.

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