"I was already in my driveway when I saw the read and blue lights, and then I got charged with DUI!" I have heard variations of this story from DUI clients so many times that I long ago lost count. Perhaps not surprisingly, most DUI arrests occur within a few miles of a driver's home.
When you think about it, it makes perfect sense as to why you are more likely to get a DUI within walking distance of home than on the other side of the county. DUI defendants tend to fall into two categories: those who mistakenly believe they are not drunk, and those who know they are over the legal limit , but decide to drive anyway. People in this latter category will make excuses to justify the risk of driving drunk. The most common excuse is that they are only driving a short distance on a familiar road. People who would never try to drive from State College to Lewistown after a night of drinking might be willing to drive from Zeno's to Toftrees. Another excuse is that they will drive slowly and carefully, to compensate for any impairment. They rationalize that a lot of people get DUIs, not because their coordination is impaired, but rather, because some drunk people lose their inhibitions and take unnecessary risks. As long as they don't drive like maniacs, they will be okay, or so they tell themselves.
Quite frankly, the only way to avoid a DUI is by not driving drunk, especially in State College. Chief Tom King has made DUI enforcement a top priority for the State College Police, as have the Ferguson Township, Patton Township and Penn State Police. Some of the officers in this area are so highly skilled at DUI detection, that you stand a very good chance of being pulled over, no matter how carefully you think you are driving. In fact, if you are driving at 2:00 a.m. in State College completely sober, you can expect to be pulled over for the most minor traffic infraction, which would be overlooked in the middle of the day. Just ask late-night, State College delivery drivers how many times they have been pulled over, only to be let go on a warning when the cop realizes that they were sober.
If you have no prior record, DUI is not the end of the world. We can normally get you into a first time offender's program called ARD. If you successfully complete the ARD program, then I can file a motion to dismiss your charges and have your record expunge.
Matt McClenahen is a criminal defense attorney in State College, PA with extensive experience in DUI defense. http://www.mattmlaw.com/Criminal-Defense-Overview/DUI-Defense.shtml