Posts Tagged ‘Berks County DUI Law Firm’

Spotlight Issue: Are DUI checkpoints legal?

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

Are DUI checkpoints legal?

While it may seem like a DUI checkpoint would be a violation of your 4th amendment rights, Pennsylvania courts have ruled that they are legal. However, the courts have imposed strict rules governing the process.
Plans for all DUI checkpoints must be submitted for administrative approval prior to the start of the checkpoint. The plan must include evidence that the location and time of the DUI checkpoint are based on a high number of past DUI related accidents and/or arrests in that area and at that time. The plan must also include a neutral pattern for stopping cars in the checkpoint (or police may elect to stop every vehicle). For example, police submit a plan stating that they will stop every fourth car and that plan is approved; police cannot decide during the checkpoint to stop three cars in a row. The purpose of requiring prior approval of the plan is to remove discretion from the field officers.

PA courts have suggested that notice of a DUI checkpoint should be published in advance, although the exact location does not need to be disclosed. This information is often published in local newspapers. Checkpoints must be well marked so that motorists know that they are approaching such a site. Motorists may avoid a checkpoint by turning off of the road before reaching it if they can do so in accordance with traffic laws. Police cannot stop a car just for avoiding a checkpoint. Police do not have to create a way to avoid the checkpoint.

Once the checkpoint begins, cars stopped in accordance with the approved plan may only be detained for a brief time. If police develop reasonable suspicion that the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol during that brief stop, then the car must be directed to a separate area. Field Sobriety Tests (FST’s) can be administered at that time.

It is only through a process called discovery that your attorney can find out whether the police followed the proper procedure for the DUI checkpoint. Our office will obtain information on whether a DUI checkpoint plan was submitted and approved, whether it was followed appropriately and whether all laws were followed during your arrest. If you’ve been charged with a DUI following a stop at a DUI checkpoint in Berks County, you need our help. Contact Reading, PA DUI attorneys at 610-372-5128 or email us at info@enmlaw.com.

Spotlight Issue: Should I plead guilty to my DUI charge?

Friday, June 12th, 2015

If you’ve been charged with a DUI you might be feeling like it is pointless to try to fight your case. You may feel this way because you believe that you were driving badly or failed your Field Sobriety Tests (FST’s) or had a blood draw that shows your blood alcohol content was over the legal limit. Does that mean that a conviction for DUI is automatic? NO.

While it may be true that the police follow all of the rules in a majority of DUI cases, that doesn’t mean that the rules were followed in your case. The only way for you to make sure that your DUI stop and arrest were handled properly is to have your case reviewed by one of our Berks County DUI attorneys. If a mistake was made by the police, then our attorneys will file the appropriate motions in court and, if necessary, represent you at a pretrial hearing or trial.

Our DUI attorneys will examine your case and looked for mistakes made by the police. Here are examples of some common mistakes:

- Illegal stop of your vehicle – police need to have reasonable suspicion that you are driving under the influence (or committing another crime) before they can pull you over to investigate. If the police pulled you over without reasonable suspicion that a crime was being committed, the evidence obtained after that traffic stop may be thrown out.

- FST’s not administered correctly – there is a specific way that the tests need to be explained and demonstrated by the police officer. Further, there are only certain types of FST’s that can be admitted into court. If there were mistakes made in the administration of the FST’s, that evidence may be thrown out.

- Video of FST’s – sometimes the video doesn’t show the poor performance on the tests that the police officer reported. Some police cars in Berks County have dashboard cameras that will record a traffic stop and FST’s. You may also be asked to perform the FST’s at the DUI Processing Center, in which case there will almost always be video of you performing the tests. While a police officer may report that you failed to walk straight or maintain your balance, the video may not tell the same story. In addition, a video may show that roadside FST’s were done under bad conditions such as poor light and uneven surfaces.

- Implied consent warnings must be given – before a police officer can request that you submit to a blood draw or breathalyzer (chemical testing), he or she must read you the implied consent warnings. These warnings inform you of your right to refuse the chemical testing and the consequences for that refusal. If the warnings were not read to you, the chemical testing results or your refusal to submit to the testing may be thrown out.

- Police officer lacked reasonable suspicion to request chemical testing – an officer needs to have reasonable suspicion that you were driving under the influence before he can request that you submit to a blood draw or breathalyzer. If the officer lacked reasonable suspicion before he made the request, then the results may be thrown out.

- Chemical testing must be done within 2 hours of the vehicle stop – the Pennsylvania DUI statute indicates that chemical testing needs to be done within 2 hours of the traffic stop. There is an exception to this rule, but the Commonwealth has to show that there was good cause for the time requirement not being met AND establish that the driver did not imbibe or ingest any alcohol or controlled substances between the time of driving and the testing. If the 2 hour rule is not followed and the Commonwealth is not able to prove an exception, the chemical testing results may be thrown out.

- Breathalyzer calibration not documented – the Pennsylvania DUI statute requires that breathalyzer machines be properly calibrated before their results can be used in court. If you were given a breathalyzer rather than a blood draw then the Commonwealth has to be able to establish the accuracy of the machine that was used to test your breath. If they are not able to do so then the test results may be thrown out.

A DUI can have a big impact on your life. Before you decide to plead guilty to a DUI you should have your case reviewed by an experienced DUI attorney. Our attorneys will examine whether any mistakes were made in your case and advise you as to the best way to proceed. If you’ve been charged with a DUI call us at 610-372-5128 or email us info@enmlaw.com

Client Avoids Jail Time in Traffic Case

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Attorney Ryan W. McAllister recently represented a young man who was charged with 75 Pa.C.S.A. 1543(a), Driving on a Suspended License. Our client had several prior convictions under this offense, and, as a result, he was facing mandatory jail time. In this case, our client had his license suspended as a juvenile, and he had repeatedly gotten into trouble with the authorities, which resulted in additional license suspensions. This all occurred well before our client was 18 years old. Now, our client was in his twenties, and he was gainfully employed, earning money and providing for his girlfriend and her young daughter. He was still, however, paying the price for his misdeeds in his youth by not being eligible to get his license.

At the court hearing, Attorney McAllister negotiated an agreement with the police officer who had issued the ticket. By bringing to light the above information, Attorney McAllister was able to convince the officer that this was not a young man who should be in jail. Although our client still had to pay a fine, he did not have to spend any time in jail, and he avoided any further suspension of his license. Attorney McAllister is not working with out client to get him eligible to receive a license as soon as possible.

If you or someone you know has been charged with Driving on a Suspended License under 75 Pa.C.S.A. 1543(a) or 75 Pa.C.S.A. 1543(b), please contact us right away at 610-372-5128. One of our experienced and dedicated attorneys will be happy to meet with you to discuss your case in more detail. As always, we offer free consultations in traffic cases and criminal / DUI cases.

DUI Charges Reduced in Berks County

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Attorney Ryan W. McAllister recently represented a client in Berks County who was charged with a second offense DUI. Our client had refused the blood test at the hospital, so he was looking at the “highest rate” penalties if he was convicted, which would include a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 90 days in Berks County Prison, followed by a five (5) year period of supervision. Our client was employed full-time at a local Berks County company, and he was have undoubtedly lost his job if he received a 90 day jail sentence.

Attorney McAllister fought the case on behalf of our client by filing an omnibus pretrial motion, which would then be followed by a subsequent bench trial. On the day of the hearing, the District Attorney’s office offered up a “plea deal” to Attorney McAllister’s client based on the fact that there was a chance they would lose the case. The plea deal was for a second offense “general impairment” DUI, which carries reduced penalties of five (5) days in jail and a maximum supervision period of only six (6) months.

Our client thought long and hard about whether or not to take the deal. In the end, he decided to go for the “sure bet” and lock in the reduced jail sentence of only five (5) days compared to 90 day jail sentence he would have faced had he went to trial and lost. Additionally, Attorney McAllister negotiated to have all the other charges are client was facing dropped in exchange for the plea agreement, which saved our potentially hundreds if not over one thousand dollars in fines and costs. In the end, our client was very happy with the outcome of his case.

If you or someone you know is facing a driving under the influence case or DUI charges in Berks County, PA, or Reading, Pennsylvania, please call our office right away at 610-372-5128. One of our experienced criminal trial attorneys will be happy to sit down with you and discuss your case in more detail at no initial cost to you.

Client Avoids Jail Time in Berks DUI Case

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Attorney Ryan W. McAllister recently represented a client who was charged with a 1st offense DUI in Berks County. Our client was charged with DUI at the “highest rate” since his blood alcohol content was greater than .16%. Therefore, our client was facing a mandatory sentence of 72 hours in jail and a 12 month license loss if he was convicted. In order to avoid the jail time and lower the license suspension, Attorney McAllister initially applied our client to the “ARD” Program. However, based on the specific facts of the case, our client was denied entry into the ARD Program by the Berks County District Attorney’s Office.

Therefore, since our client was denied entry into this special program, Attorney McAllister was left to “fight” the case on behalf of our client. Attorney McAllister filed a Omnibus Pre-trial Motion seeking to suppress the evidence of the blood results based on an illegal arrest. Attorney McAllister also sought to have the charges against our client thrown out on a habeas corpus motion.

On the day of the pre-trial hearing, the assistant district attorney assigned to the case approached Attorney McAllister and offered up a “plea bargain”. In exchange for withdrawing the motion to suppress the evidence and dismiss the charges, the district attorney’s office would allow our client to plead guilty to the reduced charge of a “general impairment” DUI. Although this would still result in a conviction on our client’s record, our client would not have to do any jail time, and there would be no license loss associated with the conviction. It was a difficult decision for our client, but, in the end, he decided on the “sure bet” and took the deal.

Our client was very satisfied in that he received no jail time instead of 72 hours and no license loss instead of 12 months. If you or someone you know is facing DUI charges in Reading, PA, or Berks County, PA, please call us right away at 610-372-5128. One of our experienced and dedicated attorneys will be happy to discuss your case in detail at a no-cost consultation.

Successfully Fighting for ARD in Client’s DUI Case

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Many months ago, I (Attorney Ryan McAllister) began to represent a client charged with a first (1st) offense DUI under 75 Pa.C.S.A. 3802(c).  My client was facing a mandatory three (3) days in Berks County Prison in addition to a 12-month license suspension.  After reviewing the facts of the case as well as the discovery documents, I informed my client that there were no pretrial suppression issues to argue, and his best bet would be to file for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program (ARD).  The only problem was my client previously completed the ARD Program for an assault case two (2) years ago.

Nevertheless, I still applied my client to the ARD Program at the preliminary hearing.  As expected, though, my client was initially denied from the program based on his prior ARD.  In response, I promptly drafted a letter to the District Attorney explaining my client’s situation.  My client works full-time for a local manufacturing company, and he could not afford to lose his license for 12 months.  Moreover, my client had no interest in spending three (3) days in Berks County Prison.

Shortly after sending my “reconsideration” letter, I got a response indicating that my client was approved for the DUI ARD Program.  Just a few days before my client was going to be placed on the DUI ARD Program, though, in a stroke of unbelievably bad luck, my client was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor assault case.  This immediately made my client ineligible for the DUI ARD Program.  I continued my client’s DUI case to a later court date, and focused 100% of my efforts on getting the assault case dismissed.  Luckily, I was able to get all of the charges against my client in the assault case dismissed at the preliminary hearing, and I was also able to secure my client’s placement onto the DUI ARD Program in his DUI case.

Even though the process took several months longer than usual, my client was extremely happy with the outcome of his case.  No jail time, no conviction, no record, and a significantly reduced license suspension.

If you or someone you know is charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Berks County, Pennsylvania, please contact my office to setup a no-cost consultation.  I would be happy to discuss the various strategies I use to keep clients out of jail and minimize their license suspensions.