Mixed drink and a half of a beer get me DUI?

Q: The cop was sitting and waiting for people to leave bar after work and pulled me over. He had my car towed. When I told him I would walk he gave me a sobriety test that I passed. He took me to hospital. I said no to the blood test and asked him not to tow my car. He asked me if I have a condition that would prevent me from taking sobriety test and I said yes. He still made me do it. I passed the nose finger-to-nose tip test. He took me to hospital. I refused the blood work. What can he do? He has no blood proof and I passed the test.  (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: My condolences and all but he can arrest and likely convict you. If you only had a mixed drink and half a beer, why would you not comply with testing? Your refusal will result in a one-year suspension in addition to a one-year suspension for the DUI if convicted. As you can probably guess, the officer’s Affidavit of Probable Cause, which will be attached to your criminal police complaint, will paint a picture of an intoxicated person. With no blood or breath test to gauge your BAC, it will be your word against the word of the officer as to whether you exhibited behavior consistent with being under the influence to the extent you that were incapable of safe driving. If you plan on defending this, you will need to consult with an attorney on your chances.

When is a search illegal in PA?

Q: I was pulled over. The cop said my plate was a motorcycle plate. I called 911 while being pulled over. Thus, the whole conversation was being recorded by 911. The dispatcher came back on with the right information for vehicle and plate. Cop put in a letter “o” instead of a number “0”. I tried telling this cop this. He kept screaming and yelling at me. He gave me back my license. I asked, am I going to get an apology? He snatched my phone and pulled me from my car. Placed handcuffs on me. Searched my car. Searched me and found a dime bag of weed on me. Never read me my rights. Impounded my car. He roughed me up. I don’t smoke. He planted this weed in my change pocket of my jeans. I am thinking about getting an attorney for violation of my civil rights. Yes, I’m black. They were white cops and very racist. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: A search is illegal when the judge says it is and throws the evidence out. Although we all know race can be a factor with police, this officer probably would have done the same thing if you were Casper the Friendly Ghost. Your comment no doubt aggravated the situation, especially if he was not in a good mood to begin with. You might as well have told him he had no probable cause or made a statement about him smelling like pork or donuts. The first issue was if there was PC to seize your body and arrest you. He will likely say he had the right to arrest you because you were disorderly. The second issue is whether he had probable cause to reach in your pockets and pull the weed out. It is likely he will say you were under arrest first, and then he felt your pocket for a pat down and it felt like a baggie of weed under the plain feel doctrine. I predict he will offer you a plea deal to a summary Disorderly Conduct at the Preliminary Hearing if you do not have an attitude at the preliminary hearing. If you want to defend this, it will be tough and a long journey for you. You will need a lawyer willing to go on the ride with you. You need to discuss this with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Can a university charge you four months later?

Q: I attend a college and one of four roommates made a complaint about the smell of marijuana in the living room. I am a user and so is another roommate. The campus cops barge in and only check our bathroom (there are 2) and they smelled it so charged us with possession and paraphernalia. But, they never conducted a search like they said they would so there isn’t really any solid evidence besides the smell and bag being on the fire alarm. We were told we would receive a letter in 72 hours if we were charged and we did not receive anything until now February, four months later. What can I do to go about this? (Moon Township, PA)

A:  It sounds like you are over 18 and have been charged with two misdemeanors. Yes, they can take four months to charge you. If you do not have your charges handled correctly, this event can ruin your life. I would invest in an attorney. He or she can determine if you have a probable cause or possession defense, and if not, if there is a diversionary program available to you which can prevent you from having a record.

Will I get a probation violation?

Q: I am on probation in Allegheny County of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and I caught a new case out in Jefferson County of Pennsylvania. I was driving my buddy’s and I was trying to help a trip of his by finding his way to get some little trick girl apparently out to make some money. I was giving them gas money to get there and then we got pulled over and there were some things found in the trunk. It was like a gram of crack and a little weed pipe and a crack pipe and the needle and stuff like that. They both wrote statements on me and said that everything was mine, but it wasn’t! But they both wrote statements on me and now I am getting charged with a misdemeanor and if I get violated on my probation I could do a couple years in jail! And, I have an eight-year-old son in my life that needs me very much and I really can’t be going to do no jail time! And, I am on a felony probation for aggravated assault on an officer and by rights I am not guilty for that either, but I pled guilty to it! So, I need some advice on how to go about this because they are offering me one-year probation. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: You need a lawyer to fight the case as hard as possible at the Preliminary Hearing or at trial if you are at that stage. It is not a good situation to be in, but perhaps your lawyer can find enough of a Probable Cause issue or constructive possession issue to get this lowered to a summary. It is a long shot, but not that long. If you plead to only a summary, it is still a technical violation and in addition to the facts (hanging out with pimps, prostitutes with drugs while on probation for Aggravated Assault) you may do a little time out. However, not as much time out as if you plead or are convicted of having drugs and paraphernalia on you. Call the lawyer.

Unlawful stop DUI?

Q: Hello, I was pulled over recently and was charged with a DUI for marijuana in my system. I was not impaired at the time, but the officer believes that I was. He said I failed the field sobriety tests and took me in for blood. His reason he said he pulled me over was because I went on the line, I don’t even believe that is true and I am pretty sure I was driving 100% fine. Nothing was wrong with the car or any other reason to pull me over. This is my first DUI and since I’m waiting on the blood work, hiring an attorney right now is pointless until then. Is it possible to fight this due to an unlawful stop? Does anyone have any similar stories where they got it thrown away due to unlawful stop? I also want to mention that it was a holiday weekend, at night and on a quiet rode. I really believe he just pulled me over because he felt like it.

A: You have recognized one defense, probable cause. Crossing a painted road line while driving can constitute sufficient probable cause to stop a motor vehicle. However, an attorney would need to know much more than this to opine as to whether you have a defense. An attorney can advise you on other matters regarding your arrests such as the blood test and programs available to you as a first-time offender.


Is a description of facial hair enough to be arrested?

Q: Can a minor get convicted far assault and robbery because someone was robbed and gave police a description of just facial hair

A:There had to be something more than “facial hair”. The police report just cannot read, the actor is described as, “facial hair”. If what you mean is a weak description, yes, it is possible to be arrested, but those kind of cases are often beaten at trial. If the police were on the fence about arresting him, the fact that he has priors may give them reason to do so. This is not fair but it happens. I would have a lawyer review the case.

Is this a second DUI?

Q: I was charged with my second DUI about a month ago. My first DUI was 9 years ago and I did ARD. Is it worth fighting the case? I was pulled over due to non working tail light. The police report did not state any other reason. (Jefferson Hills, PA)

A: Unless it is 10 years you probably cannot be admitted into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. You need to have the court records reviewed to determine if ARD is an option. A non working tail light can constitute a reasonable suspicion for police to stop your car and initiate contact. No attorney can advise you as to whether or not you should fight this unless he or she reviews the complaint and Affidavit of Probable Cause and reviews all the facts with you. It may be worth the consultation fee. If you have no defense and are not ARD eligible, you may be able to obtain a Phoenix Program deal to minimize your time and costs in court.


Q: I was pulled over on the side of the road (there were no signs or anything saying that you could not be parked in this area) and police pulled up behind me and began questioning me. I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong. They found 3 bags heroin inside my tackle box in the trunk and some powder cocaine in an aspirin bottle in my fishing boot also in the trunk. What do I do?

A: There is a lot of missing information an attorney would need to know if you have an illegal search issue. For example, what probable cause or reasonable suspicion drew their attention to even approach you? What reasonable suspicion led them to your trunk? How about your tackle box, and boot as well? Did you let them search the trunk? How they get to open your trunk in the first place if you are not violating any law is a good question and may lead to a constitutional defense. On the other hand, if you are passed out on the side of the road, and you appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they can inquire further. However, they should not be able to search your car based on that alone. Review the police reports and all of the information with an attorney before you go to court.


Q. I was sitting in my back yard with 3 of my friends. I was passed marijuana blunt, when 5 cops came into yard. I was arrested. I am 18 years old, home schooled by an approved program. Also, a bong was on the ground. I was charged with that. All my friends were searched nothing else was found. Charges are use/possession of drug paraphernalia, intent to possess a controlled substance by prescription not regulated. This happened back in the beginning of October and I just received papers now for court. My plans are to go to job core in August of 2015.

A. You should talk to a criminal defense attorney and review all of the facts and determine if you have a defense as far as a violation of search and seizure. Assuming you have no criminal history, and if an attorney assesses that you have no defense, he or she may be able to obtain a result for you in which you are not convicted nor receive a record.