What Happens If You Receive a First-Offense DUI in Pennsylvania?
If you are a first-time DUI offender, your DUI charge will likely be a misdemeanor offense that will not have as large of an impact on your life.
Being charged with driving under the influence of alcohol in West Chester, Pennsylvania can result in serious consequences that can have a negative impact on your life. If you are a first-time DUI offender, your DUI charge will likely be a misdemeanor offense that will not have as large of an impact on your life as a felony offense could. However, you might still face potential jail time, substantial fines, mandatory classes, and a loss of your driving privileges. If you are facing a first-time DUI offense, it is important for you to understand what to expect. Working with an experienced DUI defense attorney at DiCindio Law might help you to secure a more favorable resolution to your charge.
DUI arrests in Pennsylvania
If a police officer pulls you over in West Chester and suspects that you are driving under the influence, he or she will likely ask you to complete some field sobriety tests. Your performance on these tests will be a factor in whether you will be arrested. If the officer is able to establish probable cause to believe that you were driving drunk, you will be detained, processed, and asked to submit to a blood alcohol content test. You may then be released after a few hours have passed or during the morning.
Pennsylvania has an implied consent law. Under this law, your ability to drive is considered to be a privilege rather than a right. By the act of driving, you are considered to have implicitly given your consent to submit to blood alcohol concentration testing when you have been taken into custody on suspicions of drunk driving. If you refuse to test, the officer must then inform you that your driver’s license will be suspended. Basically, if you refuse to take a Breathalyzer test to ascertain the concentration of alcohol that you have in your blood, you will be deemed to have given up your privilege to drive in Pennsylvania.
The court process for DUIs
The court will send you a summons in the mail after you have been released. This paper will tell you when to appear for a preliminary hearing. If you want to retain an attorney, it is a good idea to hire him or her before your preliminary hearing. Your lawyer will review the evidence in your case and advise you about the options that you have.
If you plan to enter a plea of not guilty or to fight the charges, you should be prepared for a battle. It may be a matter of your word versus the police officer’s word. While the prosecutor always has the burden of proving that you committed the offense beyond a reasonable doubt, you will still need to prepare a strong defense case for a trial. If you decide to plead guilty to the charge, you will still be required to attend the hearing. If you do not appear in court, you can face additional penalties that can make everything more difficult.
Penalties for DUI cases
The penalties and fines that you might be assessed will depend on the facts and circumstances of what happened in your case. Your BAC at the time that you were arrested may impact the penalty range. Pennsylvania assesses penalties and fines for DUI cases into three tiers. The first tier includes DUI cases in which your BAC ranges from 0.08% to 0.099% or when it cannot be determined. Typically, the penalty for a first-tier DUI offense will include having a misdemeanor conviction on your record, a fine, and the possibility of probation.
A second tier DUI offense is one in which your BAC falls from 0.10% and 0.159%. Typically, you can expect to face a possible time in jail, a license suspension of one year, and a fine that is more substantial. You may also be ordered to undergo mandatory counseling or treatment.
The third tier of DUI offenses is reserved for people who have a BAC of 0.16% or higher. At this level, you can expect to face a longer period of time in jail and the highest possible fines. If your BAC falls into the third tier, you can also expect to face treatment or counseling that will be ordered by the court in addition to the other penalties.
What to do to avoid a DUI conviction
The best approach to DUIs is to avoid getting a charge to begin with. If you are planning to go to a bar or a party where alcohol will be served, take money with you for a cab, public transportation, or ride-share service. If you drive to a bar, ask the manager if it is okay for you to leave your car in the parking lot until the next day.
When you have been drinking, you might think that you can still drive. However, you have to remember that your thinking is impaired after you have had a few drinks and that you cannot make good decisions about driving when you are intoxicated. It is best for you to remove the temptation to drive home after drinking by taking a cab or using a ride-share service to get to the bar or party. If you drink and drive, you will place both yourself and others around you at risk.