Answering Your DUI Questions
A DUI can bring serious consequences. At McCormick & Vilushis LLC, we're committed to helping clients who have been charged with drunk driving. In more than 30 years of experience practicing criminal defense, these are some of the most frequently asked questions that arise relating to driving under the influence.
What does it mean to be impaired/intoxicated?
Basically, being impaired means there is enough of a controlled substance in a person's system that they cannot think clearly or drive safely. Most people are considered "impaired" long before they think they are drunk or high. Even prescription drugs can fall into this category.
If I've been pulled over, do I have to submit to a breath test?
The Fourth Amendment protects you from unreasonable search and seizure, so technically, no. However, refusing to submit to a breath or blood test often triggers the state's "implied consent law." Under Pennsylvania law, anyone who drives, operates or is in actual physical control of a vehicle is considered to have given consent to having their blood alcohol level tested if they are being arrested for driving while intoxicated.
Refusing to submit to the breath or blood test often results in at least a one-year suspension of your license, and you can still be convicted of a DUI without proof of your blood alcohol level. The prosecution may even use the fact that you refused to argue your guilt.
What is considered a "vehicle"?
You can be charged with a DUI if you are driving anything with a motor. This includes ATVs, golf carts, boats and even riding lawn mowers.
What if I'm just "sleeping it off" in my car?
You could still be charged with a DUI. The Pennsylvania DUI statute only requires an individual be in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle while intoxicated. Even though most people would not be able to operate a vehicle in their sleep, this phrase is vague enough that even being inside your car while drunk can get you arrested. Police can argue you could wake up and drive, or maybe you drove drunk to wherever the car is parked.
Do I really need an attorney for a DUI charge?
Yes, absolutely. The stakes are high in a DUI case — a conviction can result in fines, loss of your license or even jail time. An experienced DUI defense lawyer can help ensure your rights were upheld during the traffic stop and arrest, and will know how to approach the evidence against you.