A conviction for a DUI may send you to jail. You will have to pay an expensive fine and you will lose your driver’s license for up to a year. Even worse, your conviction will go on your permanent record, making it difficult to get a job or rent an apartment. McKenzie Law Firm, P.C., can help you. A Bristol DUI lawyer can protect your legal rights, answer all your questions, and help obtain the best possible outcome for your case.
When you hire our Bristol criminal defense lawyer, we will create a defense strategy to protect you against the charges you face. We aim to help you avoid the harsh penalties associated with a DUI conviction, such as license suspension, jail time, and fines.
How Will a Bristol DUI Conviction Affect Your Future?
Depending on the circumstances of your arrest and any prior criminal history, you could spend as little as five days or as many as five years behind bars for a DUI conviction in Bristol, PA.
State law mandates you pay a fine that ranges between $300 and $10,000. You may lose your driver’s license for up to 18 months. The court may also order you to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. The court will require you to attend alcohol highway safety classes or, if the judge deems it appropriate, a substance abuse treatment program.
Finally, your DUI conviction will become a part of your permanent criminal record, with few options for sealing or expunging this information.
This means that any time a potential landlord or future employer conducts a background check, your crime will appear. This may also prevent you from renting a car. Although you will be able to get car insurance, it will cost significantly more with a DUI conviction on your record.
What Determines the Penalties You Face After a DUI?
In Pennsylvania, courts use a three-tier system to determine DUI penalties. The penalties of a conviction will depend on your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and the number of other offenses you have on your record.
All DUI convictions require either mandatory jail time or mandatory probation of six to 12 months. The police will arrest you for DUI if you have a BAC of .08 percent or above. If your BAC registers at 0.099 percent or above, or if you have prior drunk driving convictions, the penalties increase significantly.
One way to minimize the potential damage a DUI conviction may cause in your life is to contact our offices today. A Bristol DUI lawyer from our team can help you fight your charges and guide you through the legal process.
How Can You Fight Your DUI Charges in Bristol?
You may be able to avoid prison with the help of our Bristol DUI lawyers.
With us by your side, you have a chance at a better outcome in your case. We will protect your legal rights and ensure that you understand all of your options and how they could affect your life.
After studying the prosecution’s evidence against you, we can identify potential weaknesses in their case and use them as a negotiating tool. Depending on the evidence, we may convince the prosecutor to reduce the charges or potentially drop the criminal charges completely.
Fighting Your Criminal Charges With a Defense Strategy
Some common mistakes that occur in drunk driving cases include problems with the traffic stop, errors in field sobriety testing, and issues with Breathalyzer testing. Each of these components must comply with governing laws and the legal rules of evidence.
For example, police officers must conduct field sobriety testing in accordance with federal regulations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Breathalyzer testing must also comply with federal NHTSA regulations. If the officer in your case failed to follow these procedures, we can use this to bolster your defense.
If the officer who arrested you lacked reasonable suspicion for making the traffic stop or probable cause for conducting a Breathalyzer test, we may successfully leverage these loopholes to your benefit.
Below are other potential strategies our Bristol DUI attorney may use to fight your charges:
- Arguing against an illegal DUI checkpoint;
- Offering proof the officer failed to read you your rights; and
- Pointing out problems with breathalyzer equipment.
The sooner you hire a Bristol DUI lawyer, the better your chances may be of getting your charges dismissed or reduced. If your case does have to go to court, we will need as much time as possible to build a strong case for your defense.
Can You Get a DUI Removed From Your Criminal Record?
The chances that you can get a DUI conviction removed—or expunged—from your criminal record are generally low. Although Pennsylvania law does allow for some expungements, these generally only occur only after the convicted person has passed away or reached 70 years of age and acted within the confines of the law for at least 10 years. Otherwise, you must petition the court for an expungement after a five-year period, during which you committed no other crimes.
What Other Options Do You Have After a DUI Conviction?
In some cases—specifically if this is your first DUI charge and you committed no violent offense in conjunction with drunk driving—you may qualify for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program in Bucks County.
This program provides a way for first-time offenders to mitigate some of the worst consequences of a DUI conviction. We can help you understand if you qualify for ARD. If so, a Bristol DUI lawyer will assist as you apply and we can petition the Bucks County District Attorney (DA) to approve your participation. If the DA agrees, you will appear before a judge and enter a guilty plea.
In exchange for your strict compliance with the ARD program requirements—including community service, frequent check-ins with a probation officer, attending highway alcohol safety school, and paying all fines and court costs—you may get your driver’s license back sooner. More importantly, may qualify for an automatic expungement of your criminal record.
Tips to Keep in Mind When You’re Pulled Over for DUI
If you’re pulled over under suspicion of driving while drunk, you may panic. Having to unexpectedly defend your rights can feel intimidating, especially if you don’t feel like you did anything wrong. Our team recommends that you:
- Be polite to the police officer. Even if they’re arresting you, avoid making rude comments toward the police officer. Showing unnecessary force or aggression toward the arresting officer may only make your legal penalties worse.
- Exercise your right to remain silent. If you avoid giving any unnecessary information, you save yourself from saying anything potentially incriminating.
- Consider hiring a lawyer right away. A family member can call on your behalf if you were arrested and no longer have access to your phone.
- Try to remember everything you can leading up to your arrest. Think about specific details of what you were doing, how you were driving, and whether the police read you your Miranda rights.
Once you hire our criminal defense lawyers, we can help you navigate the aftermath of a DUI arrest. We’ll offer legal advice, defend your driving privileges, and build a legal defense that we believe may keep you out of jail.
McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. Is Ready to Fight Your DUI Charges
Attorney David C. McKenzie III of the McKenzie Law Firm, P.C., is a former criminal prosecutor. Today, he puts this experience to work for clients like you. He has the unique ability to understand your case from the prosecutor’s perspective and can use this insight to build a strong defense on your behalf.
We offer free consultations and case reviews to DUI clients. We can answer any questions you have about this complex process and help you make an informed decision for your future. Contact us today to discuss your DUI case during a legal consultation.