BAC – Is Not Always Relevant In A DUI/DWI Case – Why?
Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is an important concept in a Pennsylvania DUI and New Jersey DWI Defense but many people don’t understand that BAC isn’t always an element of a DUI prosecution in Pennsylvania. Section 3802(A)(1) is specifically written in such a way that BAC is irrelevant in determining guilt!
In Pennsylvania and New Jersey most people understand that blood alcohol legal limit is .08 which means that it is illegal to drive a car when your blood alcohol content (BAC) is over this level. While this amount is important in other sections of the Pennsylvania DUI statute the prosecution (district attorney) doesn’t need to prove a specific BAC amount or any BAC amount beyond a reasonable doubt when it comes to Section 3802 (A)(1).
Under New Jersey and Pennsylvania law, the prosecution only needs to prove that a person was driving and impaired while driving. In these situations, the District Attorney (prosecutor) will use the testimony of witnesses and the arresting officer at trial. These individuals will have to provide testimony regarding a person’s actions, behaviors, and physical appearance which would include their speech (slurred), their eyes (blood shot), and anything else relevant. There is no specific test to prove general impairment but the court will use the testimony to make a decision if the prosecution has met its burden beyond a reasonable doubt. In these situations your criminal defense attorney must use every avenue available to establish doubt.
A criminal defense attorney can establish doubt through the officer’s incomplete investigation such as the lack of a field sobriety test or the unfamiliarity with a person’s speech pattern or gait (walk). In situations where the key prosecution witness is not a police officer the defense should draw attention to the witness’s bias (a pending civil law suit against the driver) along with the person’s lack of experience with intoxicated individuals and the signs of impairment.
While the criminal penalties for general DUI/DWI impairment are substantially less than those for other DUI offenses a person could still lose their license and serve jail time if it is their second or third offense. For more information about DUI/DWI defense in Pennsylvania please check out my book, 5 Ways to Fight and Win Your Pennsylvania DUI Case.
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