State College residents who are confronted with allegations of driving under the influence should understand the potential consequences for a conviction. Formulating a strong defense against these charges is an essential aspect of the case. Even after there has been a conviction, there may be avenues to appeal the case and have it overturned.
Law enforcement has many tools at its disposal to justify making a DUI traffic stop. However, as a recent case shows, an officer having a “hunch” is not among them. A Pennsylvania Superior Court panel overturned a woman’s conviction and prison term for DUI. The woman who was arrested, 25, was driving in November 2018 when she was stopped by a police officer. The officer had been called regarding illegal fireworks and started following the woman’s vehicle. Alleging that the driver’s turns and route were indicative of trying to get away from the officer and that there had been burglaries in the area, the officer felt justified in making a traffic stop.
In addition, the officer testified that the driver did not commit any traffic violations and showed no evidence of being under the influence through her driving actions. The vehicle was undamaged and there were no issues that would require aid from the officer. The judge who wrote the decision overturning the conviction stated there were no links to the fireworks call or because of burglaries. The only reason for the stop was the driver’s route. It was determined to be subjective.
The driver received a sentence of three days to six months in prison due to the county judge’s belief that there was reasonable suspicion for the stop. On appeal, the woman’s civil rights were found to have been violated. Every case is different and there are many strategies to defend against the charges including calling into question why the stop was made, the breath test results, or the officer following protocol. Discussing the case with a legal professional experienced in helping those facing DUI charges and convictions may be a wise first step.