Every year, thousands of drivers in Pennsylvania get arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) infractions. They drink or consume mind-altering drugs before driving and then face jail time, fines and the loss of their driver’s licenses as a result.
Often, those arrested on DUI allegations displayed obvious impairment at the wheel. They were erratic, they drove suspiciously slowly when road conditions were fine or they otherwise made an officer suspect that they were not sober. However, some people get arrested for impaired driving offenses after a traffic stop initiated for a totally different reason or because police officers decide to test everyone involved in a crash.
If you fail that test, the officer administering it may arrest you. Can a police officer charge you with impaired driving when your skills were clearly unaffected?
Pennsylvania DUI laws impose a technical limit
In particular, many people fail to understand drunk driving allegations that visible drunkenness is not necessary for the state to charge someone or convict them of an offense. A driver only needs to technically violate the per se drunk driving statutes on the books in Pennsylvania.
Those statutes specifically impose a limit on someone’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If you are 21 years of age or older and in control of a personal vehicle, not a commercial one, a police officer can arrest you if your BAC is over 0.08%. Your ability to drive safely and normally with an elevated BAC will not prevent an officer from arresting you and charging you with a criminal offense.
Technical infractions may have several viable defense options
Those accused of being over the per se limit for alcohol may have several ways to fight back against their pending criminal charges. Pleading guilty is far from the only option.
For example, they could challenge the breath test results’ accuracy, especially given that their BAC did not affect their driving skill. They could also challenge the traffic stop itself or raise questions about the reliability of chemical testing as the primary source of evidence for a drunk driving charge.
Looking into different defense options can help those accused of DUI offenses protect their licenses and avoid a criminal record.