Frequently Asked Questions About DUIs
May 27, 2021
According to the latest statistics from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, there were 49,730 arrests for driving under the influence (DUI) across the state in 2018. Of those arrests, 9,811 were involved in alcohol-related vehicular crashes, resulting in 331 fatalities.
With such alarmingly high numbers, it’s important to remember how easy it is to make a mistake and get caught driving under the influence. If you’ve just been charged with a DUI for the first time, you may be wondering what you should do next. Go it alone? Even if you hire an attorney, the result will be the same, right?
You may want to simply accept the charges just to put the whole experience behind you, but with an attorney at your side from the very beginning, the chances of getting a reduced sentence or having the charges dismissed entirely increase dramatically. Remember, a DUI conviction will stay on your public record forever. This means that future employers, family, and friends can all access it.
If you’ve been charged with a DUI in or around King of Prussia or the surrounding counties of Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware, or Chester, contact me, attorney David Downey, at The Downey Firm, LLC. I have handled countless DUI cases for individuals just like you, and I will fight aggressively to protect your rights and pursue the best possible outcome for your case.
Frequently Asked DUI Questions
Remember that a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .08 percent or higher is enough to be considered a driving under the influence (DUI) offense. If your BAC level is higher than that, the penalties for your DUI can rise dramatically. This is why it’s important to understand Pennsylvania DUI laws and how they can impact your case. Here are some other common questions that are important to consider:
Will I Land in Jail for My DUI?
That depends on your BAC level and whether this is your first DUI offense. If it’s a first offense and your BAC level is under .099 percent, there is no jail time. If the BAC is .10 to .159 percent, jail time typically ranges from 48 hours to six months. If your BAC is .16 percent or higher, jail time is typically 30 days to six months.
If you’ve had a prior conviction, jail time (and other penalties) can also rise. For instance, a second DUI with a BAC of .099 percent or lower earns you anywhere from five days to six months in jail. The next BAC tier (.10 to .159 percent) results in 30 days to six months, and the highest tier (.16 percent or higher) results in 90 days to five years in prison. Third and subsequent offenses, again depending on your BAC, rise even higher, dishing out anywhere from one to five years of prison time for a third DUI with the highest BAC.
Will I Lose My License? How Will I Get to Work?
Again, it all depends on your BAC level and whether this is a first or subsequent offense. A first-time offense with a low BAC (.99 percent or lower) carries no license suspension. Higher BACs and subsequent offenses can result in a license suspension for up to 12 to 18 months.
If it’s your first offense, and your BAC is higher than .99 percent, your license will be suspended for at least 12 months. A first-time offender can apply for an Occupational Limited License (OLL) after 60 days of the suspension, which will allow you to drive to work and other specified destinations. During that initial 60-day suspension period, you will have to arrange alternate transportation to work until the OLL is approved.
What Should I Expect During Trial?
There are several steps before you go to trial. There will be a preliminary hearing during which the arresting officer will present evidence against you before a judge (such as breathalyzer results, testimony, photos, and so on). At this phase, the charge can still be reduced or dismissed, so having an experienced attorney representing you is essential.
Formal arraignment will follow in the next 30 to 60 days. When your case gets to trial, the prosecution and your attorney will present evidence and call witnesses, with the right to challenge the evidence and the witnesses of the other side. At this point, you will certainly want an attorney at your side to protect your rights and represent your best interests during the trial, whether it’s before a judge or jury. It’s still possible to have charges reduced or dismissed, so having an experienced Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney in your corner can be crucial to the outcome of your case.
Is It Worth It to Fight a DUI Charge?
Absolutely. An experienced attorney can challenge everything, including the probable cause of the arrest, the motive of the arresting officer, the results of the breathalyzer or blood test, the testimony of any witnesses, and any other evidence that has been submitted. Remember, a conviction can result in a lifetime public criminal record, potential jail time, and significant fines — all of which could jeopardize your chances at employment and other important life opportunities.
Depending on your BAC and any prior DUI convictions, you could also face lengthy license suspensions and have to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle. This device will make your vehicle inoperable if you have any alcohol on your breath. As mentioned above, there may be additional penalties including fines, jail time, probation, and treatment and education programs that may be mandated by the court.
Is Hiring an Attorney Necessary?
The best way to get a reduced sentence or to have your charges dropped altogether is to have an experienced and aggressive DUI defense attorney represent you in court. If you choose to face your charges on your own, you can easily be overwhelmed by the various legal proceedings and pressure from the prosecution. Prosecutors can portray you in any way they want, and you’d be at a significant disadvantage if you attempt to defend yourself. If you choose to simply plead guilty, you may get the full extent of the penalties thrown at you.
Work with An Experienced
Criminal Defense Attorney
As many individuals have learned the hard way, a DUI conviction will stick with you for a lifetime, affecting not only your personal and professional life, but also your freedom to navigate the highways and byways of Pennsylvania as well.
As an experienced DUI defense attorney, I am proud to serve clients in and around King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, and the surrounding areas, including Philadelphia County, Montgomery County, Bucks County, Delaware County, and Chester County. If you or someone you know has been arrested and charged with a DUI, call me immediately at The Downey Firm, LLC. I will provide reliable legal guidance and representation through every step of the legal process — and I’ll do everything I can to help you reach the best possible outcome for your case.