Pennsylvania DUI Defense Attorney

Being arrested for DUI is a serious offense. It can have consequences that follow you throughout your life. If you think its not a big deal, you are wrong.

My name is Ken Chotiner. I've been practicing law for more than fifteen years. I started this blog to help those looking for information. However, this blog is not intended to be legal advice. If you would like legal advice, please call me for a free consultation. My telephone number is 267-217-DUI-7.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Beating a Driving Under the Influence Case

Let's face it, you don't have an alibi. You were driving. And, you were drunk, stoned, high, or whatever. You probably think you don't have a chance to beat the case. You are wrong.

There are many ways to beat a DUI case. Generally, there are three areas of attack. First, police have to have the right to stop you. Second, the police have to have the right to arrest and test you. Third, the test has to be properly performed by someone who is qualified.

There are many ways to attack each area. Some are generally and apply to all cases. Others are fact specific and will only apply in a particular driving under the influence case.

Here's an example of how I beat a case. My client was stopped at night for driving without headlights. Officer claimed he smelled like alcohol, had blood shot eyes, slurred speech, and an unsteady balance. So, the police arrest my client and charge him with Driving After Imbibing.

After my client tells me the story, I asked him if he knows he drove without headlights. He says that he must have because the police officer gave him a ticket for that offense. I then asked him how he turns the lights on in his car. He looked at me and smiled.

My client's car was equipped with daytime running lights and automatic headlights. My client never turns his lights on. They come on automatically.

I sent the car to a mechanic who inspected the car and found the headlights to be in proper working order. The mechanic explained everything to the judge using the video tape I had made. The prosecution tried to get the mechanic to admit the lights could have been fixed. The mechanic expected this question because I wondered the same thing. Well prepared, the mechanic responded that anything is possible but it was unlikely. Then he listed a number of reasons why.

Based upon the mechanics testimony, the judge found that the police did not have the right to stop my client. Accordingly, all of the evidence they found that he was under the influence was not allowed in court.

Some people don't like the fact that I won on a technicality. I don't care. If the police are going to accuse my client's of breaking the law, then they must follow it. We live in America where the end does not justify the means.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I've Been Arrested in Philadelphia for a DUI-- Now What?

The procedures in a Philadelphia DUI case are different than other Pennsylvania Counties. 

In Philadelphia,  your bail was already set and you were given a subpoena for your next court date. That court date is only a status listing. You will be given a subpoena for a trial date (or an ARD date) and the District Attorney will give your attorney whatever paperwork they have regarding your case. 

Most people think that the status date is not a big deal. However, the District Attorney does not like to turn over all of the paperwork they can get. It is very important that your attorney identify everything that is missing and put the missing information on the record. That way, your attorney can argue that the government has been aware of the missing items before the trial was scheduled. (This could be an important fact later on.)

A trial date in Philadelphia does not mean that the case will actually be tried that day. The Government may not have turned over all of the evidence. Additionally, your attorney could make a motion to suppress the evidence based upon an illegal stop, arrest, or for other reasons. Most of the time, Philadelphia cases are not tried at the first listing. The important thing is that your attorney is ready to proceed so that the time for the continuance is charged to the Government. (Generally, the Government only has 180 days from the date your bail was set to try your case. If you are not tried by then, your case could be thrown out.) 

If and when your case goes to trial, you could be found guilty or not. If you are found "not guilty," the case is over. If you are found guilty, you will be given a sentencing date. In between the trial date and the sentencing date you will be evaluated to determine if you need any drug or alcohol treatment.

Once you are sentenced, you have thirty days to appeal. You can appeal for a new trial or just to argue legal issues.  If you are sentenced to jail, your surrender date will be after the appeal date because you do not have to surrender if you appeal.

ARD. ARD is a program for first time offenders. If you qualify and agree to the program, you will not have a criminal record if you successfully complete the program. Additionally, you will reduce the length of a license suspension if you are facing one. Although your criminal record will be expunged, any suspension will remain on your driving record.