How to Prove a DUI Charge in Pennsylvania?
DUI Pennsylvania Law, Section 3802, defines driving under the influence (DUI) as operating or being in actual physical control of any vehicle while under the influence. There are several factors to consider when determining whether a driver is guilty of this.
The law also states that if you have been charged with DUI and can prove that you were sober at the time, then there is no violation. If you face DUI charges in Pennsylvania, it is critical to know how the prosecution will have to prove your guilt. This blog post will explore some of these factors, which may be used to refute charges in court.
What is DUI?
Driving Under the Influence is driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol. The general definition of DUI is the act of operating a motor vehicle in an unsafe condition, with excessive blood alcohol content (BAC).
The BAC refers to the percentage of alcohol in a person’s blood system. It is used as an indication of the concentration of alcohol within a driver. Blood Alcohol Concentration levels can be measured by breath, blood, or urine tests. These will reflect whether there are any traces of alcohol present in your body consumed before driving.
Pennsylvania DUI laws state it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle if the BAC level is .08% or higher. In addition, DUI laws state it can also be unlawful to use a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs.
Proving a DUI in Pennsylvania
The prosecutor must show every aspect of the offense beyond reasonable doubt to convict you of a Pennsylvania DUI. Prosecutors can use a variety of evidence to prove a DUI conviction. In a Pennsylvania DUI case, these are the elements of evidence that the prosecution can use to establish guilt:
1. Requirement for Highway or Trafficway
The conduct must take place on a highway or trafficway for the Pennsylvania DUI Act to be violated. The definition of a “highway” is any public road, street, or thoroughfare. It includes bridges, parking lots, and sidewalks under the control of the department or agency. It also applies to private roads that are open for use by the general driving population.
The prosecution must prove it took place on a highway to convict you if they allege a violation of the Pennsylvania DUI Act. If you were arrested outside of a car, the prosecution must prove that your actions took place on or near “highway.”
2. Actual Physical Control of a Vehicle’s Movement
The DUI statute forbids not just “driving” or “operating” a motor vehicle while under the influence but also being in actual physical control of the vehicle. It means that if the prosecution can prove you had access to a motor vehicle and were physically able to drive it, they may charge you with a DUI charge in Pennsylvania.
For the prosecutor to establish actual physical control of a car, there is no need for them to show their ability or intent to drive the car at any point in time. The prosecution only needs to show that you had access to the vehicle and could have driven.
3. Incapable of Safe Driving or Driving While Impaired
Section 3802 of the law makes it illegal to operate a motor vehicle when under the influence of alcohol to the point where the individual is incapable of safe driving. The prosecution has the burden to prove that you were impaired by alcohol at the time of driving. This is because some people may not drive due to their physical or mental limitations, even if they are sober safely. It can include drowsiness caused by medications and conditions like epilepsy.
Here are some of the factors that can be used to refute charges in court:
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol: In Pennsylvania, if the prosecution establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that your ability to operate a vehicle was affected by alcohol, chemical test findings show a BAC of.08 percent or above will be sufficient evidence to convict you.
- Driving while under the influence of drugs: According to section 3802, it is illegal to operate a vehicle when the influence of drugs materially impairs the person’s ability to do so. This means if your ability or coordination was affected due to prescription medications, illegal substances, and/or alcohol in combination with any drug, then you may be found guilty of this offense under Pennsylvania DUI law.
Don’t know the difference between DUI and DWI in Pennsylvania?
If you are facing DUI charges, it is important to know the various ways in which a prosecutor may be able to prove that you were driving under the influence. The prosecutor’s office will use evidence like blood alcohol content measurements and observations of your behavior when they test for intoxication levels. They also rely on circumstantial evidence such as witness testimony or looking at your behavioral patterns before and after an accident occurred.
Residents should never hesitate to contact a DUI defense attorney in Erie PA, as soon as they are charged. Panighetti Law can help you understand your rights and the possible outcomes of this charge. A DUI lawyer can help those with DUI charges in Pennsylvania, to figure out the best course of action for your case and guidance on how to go forward.
Contact Panighetti Law today if you need legal advice about a possible DUI charge in Pennsylvania or an arrest. Call 814-806-6385 and schedule a free consultation or simply fill out the contact form on our website.