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Why a Private DUI Defense Attorney Can Make a Difference in Pennsylvania Cases

Many people charged with driving under the influence radically misjudge the need for a private DUI defense attorney. Anyone who watches crime dramas is familiar with the portion of the Miranda warning that advises of the right of indigent defendants to have an appointed attorney. It is important to understand that the right to an attorney does not mean that you have the right to a good DUI defense attorney with the ability to commit fully to your case.

Common DUI defense strategies

Effective representation in DUI cases requires the time and resources to explore a wide range of defense strategies, including the following:

  • Analyzing law enforcement reports for errors and inconsistencies
  • Evaluating the legal sufficiency for conducting the initial stop
  • Exposing breath test device calibration issues
  • Cross-examining police officers regarding their observations
  • Challenging field sobriety testing procedures, officer training and FST scoring
  • Attacking BAC testing of blood and alcohol
  • Investigating the credibility of witnesses (e.g. police officers)
  • Impugning lab procedures and exposing blood test contamination issues

These are only a few examples of defense strategies that a private DUI defense attorney may employ. While a public defender may be competent and dedicated, effective use of these and other defenses requires time and resources. The enormous caseload handled by the typical public defender means that they face severe financial and time management constraints. Public defenders handling cases with limited financial compensation also will generally have less access to private investigators, medical experts, chemistry experts, accident reconstruction experts and others with specialized knowledge and expertise.

Advantages of a private attorney over a public defender

These limitations can result in a public defender overlooking a detail that may be crucially important or failing to develop a complete feel for a particular case. Private DUI defense attorneys limit their caseloads so that they have the ability to devote more attention to each individual case. They also have the financial resources to spend more time analyzing a case file, investigating the case and developing effective defenses. The difference between a public defender and a private DUI defense attorney is akin to comparing the quality of medical care received by a patient with no insurance and a patient with high quality medical coverage.

When the court appoints a public defender, you also have little or no control over the attorney’s DUI experience. Some accused of DUI presume that these cases are based on scientific testing of blood alcohol content (BAC) so one’s choice of attorney has little impact on the outcome. This is a grave mistake. While diversion programs like Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition (ARD) can be an excellent option, only certain defendants qualify so you may need an aggressive defense up to and including trial.

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