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When police officers wait too long to perform a breath test

Someone accused of a driving under the influence (DUI) charge in Pennsylvania faces of variety of penalties. A conviction could cost someone their driver’s license, lead to their incarceration and generate significant fines. Quite a few people immediately plead guilty to a DUI charge because they think they can’t defend against those allegations. A failed breath test could contribute to someone giving up on the possibility of beating their charges.

There are actually many defense strategies that can benefit those facing a DUI charge. Some of these strategies focus on science or medical issues, while others leverage specific legal rules. Those accused of a DUI can sometimes defend against the pending charges that they face by pointing out issues with the state’s case against them, such as a failure to follow best practices.

Sometimes, drivers can show that an officer had no legitimate reason to stop them. Other times, there might be questions about the accuracy of chemical breath tests. There are many factors that can compromise how reliable chemical tests actually are. Sometimes, officers wait too long after arresting someone, and that delay could affect the usefulness of test results.

What does Pennsylvania law say?

The human body does not absorb alcohol instantly. Someone’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) goes up after they drink and eventually starts going back down again as their body metabolizes the alcohol they consumed. Many people will experience an increase in BAC that continues for some time after they finish drinking.

Someone could have a substantially higher BAC an hour or two after they leave a party than they did at the time that they decided to head home. The possibility of someone’s BAC continuing to rise is one reason why Pennsylvania limits the timing of chemical testing. Police officers typically need to perform a chemical test within two hours of when they initiated the traffic stop.

The results of tests performed more than two hours after police stop someone would likely not hold up under scrutiny in criminal court. Small mistakes, like waiting too long to conduct a test, can undermine the state’s chances of obtaining a conviction and help someone develop a defense strategy.

Learning more about the rules that apply to Pennsylvania DUI cases may help someone hoping to fight back against pending criminal charges.


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