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DAVID CLARK
Criminal Defense Attorney

DUI Traffic Stops in Philadelphia: What To Expect

In Philadelphia, a person who’s being pulled over for DUI should expect the following things to occur. If you are accused or charged consult with a Philadelphia DUI lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your stop and begin building a defense.

Before The Traffic Stop

First and foremost, a police officer will follow a vehicle often a few blocks to ascertain whether or not they feel that the person is operating the motor vehicle in a manner consistent with DUI.

Lights, Sirens, and Getting Pulled Over

What is often present is a marked police cruiser following an individual’s car a few blocks to determine whether they’re swerving, whether they’re stopping properly, whether they’re abiding by the motor vehicle codes. Then if the officer believes that the person may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They will put their lights and sirens on and pull the vehicle over.

The Officer Approaches the Vehicle and Asks for Paperwork

Ultimately the officer will then approach usually with a partner on the passenger side and the officer himself on the driver’s side and ask for paperwork for the vehicle; license, registration and proof of insurance. This gives the officer the ability to run the vehicle and make sure that it’s safe but secondly to watch the individual in obtaining certain paperwork. Officers want to determine:

  • Are they acting in a way that’s too nervous?
  • Are they unable to provide paperwork clearly?
  • Are they unable to speak clearly to the officer?
  • Do they smell of alcohol?

You know, all of these are signs that a person may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol and all are part of a general DUI stop in Philadelphia.

Even under the most extreme circumstances: the smell of alcohol, for example, visibly red eyes, a person’s delayed reaction when pulling a car over, maybe a person swerving across the center line; these are all indicators first of a traffic violation and then are indicators of a possible DUI.

Field Sobriety Tests

Once it’s determined that a person may be under the influence, often a person is asked to submit to field sobriety tests. The person will come out and will ask to give him the alphabet in reverse or be asked to take a field sobriety test such as standing on one leg and following a laser point. There are many, many different things that an officer may do to test the sobriety of someone pulled over.

Breathalyzers and Blood Tests

Once that’s done and if the officer then still feels that a person could be under the influence of drugs or alcohol then the person is asked to submit to a breathalyzer, which would happen at the police headquarters, and/or a blood test which can be drawn at either police headquarters or the nearest hospital. All this would be done within a two hour period of time so that the readings are accurate and a person could be tested.

It’s under those circumstances that an officer, even if they believe a person is only slightly impaired, is required to request that a person submit to a field sobriety test and blood being drawn or a breathalyzer machine being used at the scene to test the person’s alcohol content and/or drug content in their system.

Once this is done, a person is then held over especially on breathalyzer cases where the results are immediate and will see a judge within 13 hours and then will be released at some point afterward to stand trial on the charges.