DUI in Pennsylvania
A conviction for being drunk while driving in Pennsylvania is a serious business. You could be sent to jail, do probation, lose your license and pay a variety of fines even if it is a first offense. A DUI conviction can affect you for the rest of your life as it has the potential to wreck your family life as well as affect your job and career. The only way to avoid a DUI charge is not to drink and drive. However, if you have been charged with DUI anywhere in Pennsylvania, then don’t think that you should just accept a guilty verdict. With the help of an experienced York PA DUI defense attorney you may be able to get your DUI charge dismissed or at least get some of the penalties reduced.
How is a DUI charge Determined
Normally, the driver of a vehicle is asked to stop and pull over by a law enforcement officer. He or she is expected to have a reason why they do this e.g. you are driving erratically. You may then be asked to complete some tests o see if you may have been drinking. If the officer thinks you could be DUI based on their observations you will be taken to a police station for a breathalyzer or blood alcohol test. You have the right to refuse the test, but this could be used against you in a DUI trial and could also be a separate offense due to Pennsylvania’s “implied consent laws”. This simply means that when you accept a driver license in Pennsylvania you consent to having a blood alcohol test if one is requested.
If your blood alcohol test shows more than 0.08 (or 0.02 if you are younger than 21) then you will be charged with DUI and your license will be confiscated. Even if you refuse, you may still be charged with DUI, based on the field tests when you were first stopped or any other observations the police have made of you.
What Happens Next?
You will be kept at the police station overnight if charged with DUI, then released. You will be able to drive for 10 days until your license is suspended for a minimum period of 6 months. You can challenge the suspension, which is an administrative matter to do with the state’s DMV only, and is separate from the DUI charge. With the help of a Pennsylvania DUI lawyer you may decide to request a formal review at which your suspension can be challenged. You may also be able to apply for a hardship license which can be used at restricted times to get to work or college.
Meanwhile, you will need to defend yourself against the DUI charge itself. Remember this could lead to a series of penalties if you are convicted. These penalties will depend partly on whether you have been convicted before and the result of the blood alcohol test and field sobriety tests. The higher the alcohol content detected in your blood, the harsher the penalties.
You should not just accept a DUI charge as there are many ways in which the whole process can be flawed and a good DUI lawyer can challenge the way in which you were tested at the road side or the proficiency of the blood alcohol test.
Penalties for DUI in Pennsylvania
DUI penalties in Pennsylvania mount up if you have a repeat offense or your blood alcohol test shows you have excessive amounts of alcohol. Generally, if it is a first offense and you have between 0.08 and 0.099 BAC, then you can expect to do probation, but it would be unlikely to go to jail for any minimum period. You could lose your license, but only if you refuse to take a blood alcohol test. You will be fined $300 and have to pay court costs as well. These penalties rise quickly if it is a second or third DUI offense or if you have drunk enough to put your BAC level over 0.10.
Hire an experienced PA DUI lawyer
The best option if you have been charged with DUI is to hire an experienced York, PA DUI lawyer. They will have handled many cases just like yours and will be able to assess your chances of having your charge dismissed or the charge reduced in severity after listening to your story and examining any evidence available. A DUI conviction can affect your life in many ways and you should try and fight the charge rather than just accept it.
Learn about Hit and Run in Pennsylvania next.