Drunk Driving & DUI / DAI Defense

Drunk Driving & DUI attorneys representing , PA


DUI / DAI DefenseFrequently, people accused of drunk driving simply plead guilty and accept their punishment. We advise against this option. Instead, we encourage you to get in touch with an experienced DUI attorney at our firm. We will take the time to seriously investigate your situation to see if any other options exist. We want to protect you from the penalties that can come along with a Drunk Driving or DUI / DAI Defense conviction.

With more than 30 years of experience on our side, the attorneys at the Law Offices of John E. Kusturiss, Jr. are available to successfully defend residents in , PA facing DUI and Drunk Driving charges.

To learn more about DUI/DAI charges and penalties, feel free to read through the free information provided below.

After you have done so, please contact us for a free initial consultation with one of our DUI attorneys.

Overview of Drunk Driving

Each U.S. state has its own set of drunk-driving laws, and in some states drunk driving is a crime, while in others, like New Jersey, it is classified as a traffic offense. While drunk-driving laws do differ among the states, there are certain concepts and features common to most states' drunk-driving jurisprudence. Basically, as we all know, operating a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol and/or drugs to a degree that impairs a person's judgment and ability to drive safely is a serious offense. Both criminal and civil penalties for drunk driving can be harsh and often include:

  • Loss or suspension of license
  • Large fines
  • Substance-abuse treatment
  • Jail or prison time
  • Community service
  • Restitution
  • Criminal record
  • Restrictive probationary license programs, including ignition interlock devices and Cinderella licenses

In addition, the social stigma and effect on your career may have lifelong negative consequences.

If you have been stopped for, arrested for or charged with drunk driving, it is in your best interest to discuss your options and rights as soon as possible with an attorney who has experience handling drunk-driving cases. Drunk-driving law is complex and the guidance of a skilled and knowledgeable lawyer can make a significant difference in a defendant's experience and in the outcome of his or her case.

Terminology and Elements of Drunk Driving

The offense of drunk driving goes by a variety of names among the states, including:

  • Driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Driving while intoxicated (DWI)
  • Operating under the influence (OUI)
  • Operating while intoxicated (OWI)
  • Driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII)
  • Driving while under the influence (DWUI)

In the language of the various state statutes, a drunk-driving conviction requires driving or operating a vehicle or motor vehicle. While that sounds straightforward, a review of drunk-driving cases shows otherwise.

Driving Requirement

The requirement of driving or operating implies that the driver must have some sort of control or command of the vehicle. Guilt or innocence may hang on whether the defendant was actually "driving" in a particular circumstance. What if he or she was just sitting behind the wheel of a car but it was off? What if the defendant was sleeping there? What if the keys were in the defendant's pocket and not in the ignition? What if that car was out of gas and could not be started? What if it was idling? What if it was being towed? Courts nationwide have considered various scenarios to determine whether the necessary control over the vehicle was present and the outcomes vary by state and by the individual circumstances.

Vehicle Requirement

Cars, trucks and vans are obviously considered to be vehicles for drunk-driving law purposes. However, people have been convicted of drunk driving while operating motorboats, mopeds, dirt bikes, snowmobiles, electric wheelchairs, golf carts, bicycles and ATVs, although the types of vehicles contemplated differ by state.

Intoxication

One way prosecutors prove driver intoxication is through scientific testing of the amount of alcohol in the body, usually by analyzing the breath or blood. These tests are usually administered by machines, such as the Breathalyzer®. In every state, a person with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) over .08 is considered legally intoxicated.

Implied-consent laws create the legal presumption that if a person takes advantage of the privilege of driving, he or she automatically consents to state-administered chemical testing to determine his or her BAC. If a driver refuses to take a chemical-alcohol test, his or her driver's license may be revoked or suspended.

BAC test results over the legal limit are usually presumed to be proof of intoxication. However, defendants may challenge the conclusiveness of the results by showing irregularities in the test administration procedure or problems with the test equipment. For example, your lawyer may advise retesting of your breath sample tubes. He or she may be able to obtain exclusion of the original breath test results from the case or even dismissal of the case entirely.

Other types of evidence used by prosecuting attorneys to show intoxication include drivers' statements, witness and police observations of behavior and driving patterns and circumstantial evidence. An example of possibly relevant circumstantial evidence is that a defendant, before driving, spent the afternoon at a party where drinking games were played.

Police also gather important evidence of intoxication by administering standard field sobriety tests (FSTs) at the scenes of traffic stops. Common field sobriety tests include:

  • Finger-to-nose test
  • One-legged stand
  • Walk-and-turn test
  • Horizontal-gaze-nystagmus test
  • Picking up coins
  • Counting backwards
  • Reciting the alphabet
  • Throwing and/or catching a ball

Conclusion

Driving is the basis of the American lifestyle, permeating every activity we do. We rely on driving to get to work, to socialize, to run errands and to vacation. Licensed drivers transport children, people with disabilities and senior citizens to important appointments and activities. A drunk-driving conviction can bring a screeching halt to your life. If you face a potential problem with drunk driving, a lawyer can fight for you and help protect your interests and those of your family and loved ones.


With offices in Media, Pennsylvania, criminal defense, personal injury, & family law lawyers John E. Kusturiss, Jr. and Alyssa K. Poole represent clients throughout Philadelphia, Montgomery County, Chester County, and Delaware County, including the communities of Media, Upper Providence, Middletown, Springfield, Morton, Ridley, Rose Valley, Norwood, Folcroft, Collingdale, Aldan, East Lansdowne, Upper Darby, Yeadon, Colwyn, Brookhaven, Aston, Upland, Newton, Marple, Haverford, Broomall, Woodlyn, West Chester, Avondale, Kennett Square, Concordville, Norristown and Ardmore. Mr. Kusturiss and Ms. Poole are licensed to practice in New Jersey, and Mr. Kusturiss is also licensed in Washington, D.C.

Frequently Asked Questions about Drunk Driving

Q: What is "blood-alcohol concentration" or "blood-alcohol level"?

A: Blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is the level of alcohol in the bloodstream from drinking alcoholic beverages. BAC readings are used in court as evidence in drunk-driving cases. The most common method of measure is a breath test, although blood and/or urine testing is sometimes done. A result of .08 or higher may establish a presumption of intoxication. The details of the .08 BAC presumption laws vary among the states, but all 50 states have adopted .08 as their official intoxication level, in large part because of a federal threat of otherwise withholding highway funds.

Q: Can I refuse a Breathalyzer® test?

A: Every state has its own version of an implied consent law providing that a driver impliedly consents to alcohol testing just by the act of driving. In many states, a refusal to take a breath test is itself a criminal violation subject to stiff penalties. For example, refusing a breath test might result in automatic drivers-license suspension or revocation. If you are ultimately found guilty of a drunk-driving offense, there may be additional penalties because of the test refusal, such as a stiffer sentence. Your test refusal may also be used as evidence against you in a drunk-driving case.


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Representing , PA & surrounding areas
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