Police directing a woman to take a breathalyzer

Understanding DUI Tests

Allegheny Attorneys at Law, P.C. April 7, 2021

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, 49,730 DUI arrests were made throughout Pennsylvania in 2018. In Pennsylvania, a police officer may pull you over on suspicion of DUI and request a field sobriety test, but many drivers are not aware of their rights regarding these tests when pulled over by the police.

At Marc V. Taiani, Esquire and Allegheny Attorneys at Law, I am highly experienced and knowledgeable in drunk driving-related cases, including matters involving field sobriety, breath, urine, and blood tests. I’m available to discuss your situation and help you understand your rights regarding DUI tests in Pennsylvania. Even if you are facing DUI charges, I can fight to protect your rights and offer you the reliable representation you need. My firm proudly serves clients across Pittsburgh, Penn Hills, Ross Township, Oakmont Borough, and Shaler Township, Pennsylvania.

Implied Consent in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s implied consent law states that any driver in Pennsylvania is considered to have given consent to a breath or blood test, provided that the driver was legally detained for suspicion of driving while under the influence. According to the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Title 75 section 1547:

“Any person who drives, operates, or is in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle in this Commonwealth shall be deemed to have given consent to one or more chemical tests of breath or blood for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content of blood or the presence of a controlled substance if a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe the person to have been driving, operating or in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle with a certain amount of alcohol in his blood.”

Types of Sobriety Tests

The three standardized field sobriety tests approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration include:

  • The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test

  • The Walk-and-Turn test

  • The One-Leg Stand test

The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

The horizontal gaze nystagmus test helps determine whether the driver’s eye will follow a moving object in a smooth way or irregular way. This field sobriety test is highly unreliable and may not be admissible in Pennsylvania court.

The Walk-and-Turn Test

The walk-and-turn test requires the vehicle driver to take nine steps along a straight line in a heel-to-toe fashion. After taking the required nine steps, the driver will turn on one foot and return back to his starting position in the same manner.

The One-Leg Stand test

The one-leg stand requires a driver to stand on one foot at the height of about six inches above the ground and count for about 30 seconds. After this, they may be allowed to put both feet on the ground.

Chemical Tests

If you were pulled over by an officer on suspicion of DUI, you may be asked to take the following chemical tests:

Preliminary Breath Test

After performing the field sobriety tests multiple times, the officer may ask you to blow into a portable device. The preliminary breath test will be used to determine the level of alcohol in your system.

Breathalyzer Test

Depending on the results of the other tests, the police offer may take you to the police station for further testing. For the breathalyzer test, you will be asked to blow into a machine. The machine will analyze your breath and provide the results.

Blood Test

If you refuse a field sobriety test, the police officer may request a search warrant to obtain samples of your blood. You will be taken to the hospital to have your blood drawn and analyzed.

Urine Test

A urine test shows the presence of metabolites, but it is unable to differentiate between these metabolites and active alcohol or drugs in your system. Due to the unreliability of these urine tests, they are rarely used in Pennsylvania DUI situations.

Consequences of Refusal

Pennsylvania’s implied consent law doesn’t apply to standardized field sobriety tests and preliminary breath tests. You have the right to refuse any of these. However, there may be consequences for refusing a breathalyzer, blood, or urine test. The potential consequences for chemical test refusal in Pennsylvania include:

  • Automatic driver’s license suspension for 12 months for a first refusal

  • Automatic driver’s license suspension for 18 months for a second refusal or for having a prior DUI conviction

  • Restoration fee of between $500 and $2,000

  • Refusal can be used as evidence against you in Pennsylvania court in your drunk driving case

How an Experienced Attorney Can Help

Understanding your rights regarding DUI tests as well as the consequences of refusal to submit for chemical testing is crucial when considering your options. If you are facing DUI charges, it is important that you retain an experienced Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney immediately to help protect your rights and help build a strong defense.

At Marc V. Taiani, Esquire and Allegheny Attorneys at Law, P.C, I have devoted my career to handling DUI cases and defending clients facing drunk driving allegations. As your legal counsel, I will review the circumstances surrounding your arrest and determine whether the law enforcement officer had reasonable suspicion to pull you over or probable cause for your arrest.

I will review and investigate the various tests that were performed, how they were conducted, and identify potential problems during the testing. I will continue fighting on your behalf to defend your rights and ensure that you receive fair treatment in every phase of the legal process. Having me on your side can improve your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome in your drunk driving case.

Call me at Marc V. Taiani, Esquire and Allegheny Attorneys at Law, P.C. today to speak with a highly skilled criminal defense attorney. I can offer you the comprehensive legal guidance and aggressive representation you need to fight your DUI charges. I’m proud to represent clients across Pittsburgh, Penn Hills, Ross Township, Oakmont Borough, and Shaler Township, Pennsylvania.