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How police may handle suspicion of DUI

In Pennsylvania, there are instances in which residents who are pulled over for routine traffic stops may later be suspected of driving while under the influence (DUI). Not only will they be facing different tests to determine their blood alcohol content (BAC) level, but they may also potentially need to know where their legal rights are in terms of police drawing blood or searching their vehicle.

First, police can't simply search a person's car without a warrant even if they do suspect DUI. FindLaw lists the reasons police can search a vehicle. They include:

  • Giving police consent to look
  • The officer having or obtaining a warrant
  • If the officer believes a search is necessary for safety, such as looking for guns
  • If someone has been arrested and items related to their arrest may be found
  • If there is probable cause to search

"Probable cause to search" can include scenarios like having open bottles of alcohol within view of the officer. It should also be noted that someone can be arrested if they fail a field sobriety test or breath analysis test, as mentioned below.

When it comes to determining someone's BAC level, there are three primary methods of doing so. As the National Institutes of Health states, alcohol breath tests - commonly known as breathalyzers - are usually the most common. For this, a device is used to measure a person's BAC level through their breath. Field sobriety tests can also be utilized. In these tests, a person may be asked to do things that require coordination that an inebriated person may lack. If either of these tests are failed, an arrest may occur and a search can follow.

For the aforementioned reasons, it's important for all drivers to understand what their rights are in the face of DUI accusations.

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