FAQ's of DUI / OVI

Why is my license suspended before I have been convicted of OVI?

Since having a drivers license is a privilege and not a right in Pennsylvania, each person, if requested to do so, must submit to a chemical test to determine his or her Blood Alcohol Concentration if he or she has reasonable grounds to believe you are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs of abuse. "Implied Consent" The Administrative License Suspension, which is civil in nature, takes effect at this point in time. This suspension is independent of any court suspension imposed for an OVI or DUI conviction. It is possible to appeal the ALS suspension within a short time frame following an arrest.

How am I supposed to get to work and/or school without a license?

An attorney can ask for driving privileges on your behalf. Although not a guarantee, most Judges agree to some form of privileges. Based on the number of prior convictions, the chemical test result, or a refusal to submit to the test, it may be necessary to install a Guardian Interlock device or restrictive plates on your vehicle prior to obtaining privileges. All offenders must serve the "hard time" suspension prior to any driving privileges. Some Judges have a "policy" not to grant driving privileges to an individual who refuses to submit to a test or tested over a certain level, for example, a .17 BAC.

Do all OVI cases go to trial?

OVI or DUI law is similar to all criminal cases in that many cases are negotiated in a plea bargain prior to a trial date. Each case is different and a plea arrangement hinges on the specific circumstances of your case, the number of prior convictions, the BAC test results, and even the specific Judge.

Do I have to take the Field Sobriety Tests? How about the Breath Test?

The Field Sobriety Tests are absolutely voluntary. Police often times have already made a decision to arrest you prior to the administration of Field Sobriety Tests. The Portable Breath Test, which is administered in the field, is also voluntary. Police Officers tend to omit that information when asking someone to submit to these tests.

The formal Breath Test, can be refused, but you will face a longer suspension period for this refusal.

I highly recommend refusing both of these tests and making the government prove their case with as little evidence as possible. The chemical test is often times the strongest piece of evidence against you. Refusal to submit to a chemical test may result in an additional criminal charge against you. It is easier to refuse and fight the charges in Court than it is to dispute the result of the breath, blood, or urine test. Current Pennsylvania law makes it exceptionally difficult for defense attorneys to challenge a breath, blood, or urine test.

I didn't take a Breath Test. Does this mean the Police and Prosecutor have no evidence against me?

No. Police Officers document many things, including your appearance, speech, balance, and mannerisms, from the start of the traffic stop. The lack of a breath test results makes it more difficult for the State to prove their case by proof beyond a reasonable doubt and allows the defense attorney to challenge the officer's subjective "opinion" of the individual being under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs of abuse.

I only had one beer or alcoholic beverage. Can I still be found guilty of OVI or DUI?

It depends. Individuals can be charged with OVI or DUI for having a prohibited Blood Alcohol Concentration of .08 or higher. One beverage is not likely to cause your BAC to reach this level. Poor Police Department procedure and/or a malfunctioning breath testing device can cause an unreliable false positive result. However, individuals can be charged with OVI or DUI if their ability to operate a vehicle is noticeably impaired. It is theoretically possible, but highly unlikely, that your ability to drive would be appreciably impaired after one drink. It depends on individual tolerance levels. Certain prescription medications have been found to cause drowsiness and impairment issues when mixed with alcoholic beverages. Even if the medications are legally prescribed, it is possible to be charged with OVI or DUI if this happens to you. Do not answer any questions about your prescription medications.

Can an OVI or DUI conviction be expunged from my criminal record?

No. OVI or DUI convictions, like all traffic convictions, leave a permanent mark on your record. Unfortunately, they cannot be expunged.

Do I need an attorney to represent me for an OVI or DUI charge?

OVI or DUI law is constantly changing. It is important to retain an experienced and knowledgeable attorney who understands the complexities of the law. Even if you have no intention of fighting the charge, an attorney can help explain and navigate you through the court process. Additionally, a skilled attorney may be able to negotiate a plea bargain arrangement you never thought was possible. Call The Law Office of Lorrain Finnegan to begin to put this ordeal behind you.

226 West Market Street, West Chester, PA 19382
Tel. 610-436-7583 | finnegan@rcn.com
© 2012 by Lorraine Finnegan. All rights reserved.
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