A charge of driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious matter. The penalties can be severe, and failing to get the right legal help during this stressful time can result in serious legal, financial, and professional consequences. Everybody makes mistakes, but you deserve a vigorous defense and fair treatment by the legal system. If you faced arrest for drunk driving in Delaware County, contact a DUI Lawyer who can reduce your sentence or even get your case dismissed.
At the McKenzie Law Firm, PC, we know the courts and how to fight for a resolution that will disrupt your life as little as possible.
What are the Penalties for a DUI Conviction in Delaware County?
Pennsylvania, like many other states, has lowered its blood-alcohol content (BAC) limit to .08%. If a police officer stops a motorist on suspicion of drunk driving and confirms this with a field sobriety test, the motorist will then have to submit to a chemical test of blood, breath, or urine. If the test shows the motorist is above the legal limit, the driver will probably face criminal charges for DUI.
The state also has toughened its penalties for drunk driving. The possible fines, jail time, probation, and license suspension all depend on how far above the BAC limit you were at the time of arrest and whether you have previous DUI convictions on your record. The chart below explains the tiered maximum sentences for a variety of circumstances:
There are some situations that could result in an even stiffer penalty, such as:
- If the driver’s impairment resulted in an accident that caused injury or death;
- If there was a minor in the car; and
- If the driver was driving with a suspended license at the time of the DUI arrest.
What Will a Delaware County DUI Lawyer Do for Me?
We will begin by examining the details of your arrest and asking some of the following questions of law enforcement, such as:
- Was the officer justified in stopping you on suspicion of drunk driving;
- Was the field sobriety test administered properly;
- Are the BAC test results admissible as evidence; and
- Was the suspension of your license carried out properly?
Officers in Delaware County must be able to demonstrate they had reason to believe you were operating a vehicle while intoxicated before pulling you over. While you are not required to comply with a field sobriety test, 75 Pa. CSA § 1613 establishes an “implied consent” law. This law requires motorists arrested for a DUI to submit to a chemical BAC test. Refusal will result in an automatic license suspension.
Our Delaware County DUI lawyers will investigate whether the officer completed this testing properly and whether the equipment involved, such as a breathalyzer device, was functional and properly calibrated. If not, this evidence could be inadmissible in court.
At the McKenzie Law Firm, PC, we will do everything we can to minimize the negative impact of the DUI. We can help you with the complicated process of petitioning the state for a partial restoration of driving privileges through an Occupational Limited License. PennDOT Driver & Vehicle Services explains that this license allows you to drive to work and other necessary appointments. This is sometimes known as a “bread and butter” license.
Pre-Trial Diversion Program for First-Time Offenders
Pennsylvania offers the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program to first-time, nonviolent offenders. This is a type of pre-trial intervention that circumvents the costly and slow legal process for offenders who have no previous records and appear as if they are likely candidates for successful rehabilitation. The ARD program usually results in a lesser penalty.
You May Be Able to Get Your DUI Charge Dismissed
If you meet all of the terms of the ADR program, your DUI charges are dismissed. You will not face harsh penalties such as jail time or having a permanent conviction on your record. Furthermore, you will gain the right to ask the court to expunge your record. This will ensure that your DUI arrest is not visible on background checks.
You May Be Able to Get a Plea Deal
A Delaware DUI lawyer can help you determine if you are eligible for the program and will work diligently to make sure your DUI conviction disrupts your life as little as possible. It is also possible to plead the case down to a “wet reckless,” or alcohol-related reckless driving. This is an option for drivers whose BAC levels were close to the .08% limit, who did not cause damage or injury, and who have clean records otherwise.
Penalties for a wet reckless are less harsh, and the offense will not appear on your driving record as a DUI. In the event of a future DUI arrest, authorities will treat the previous wet reckless as a DUI for sentencing purposes.
Can I Get a DUI Expunged from my Record?
In addition to providing legal counsel through the stressful and confusing process of DUI investigation, plea bargaining, and sentencing, we work to improve our clients’ long-term well-being. We do not believe a single mistake should derail a person’s entire life. A DUI is the sort of offense that can follow you around even after you satisfy the terms of your sentence. Here are some ways having a DUI on your criminal record can impact your life for years to come:
- It might be harder to get a job;
- Your insurance premiums will increase; and
- You might not be able to rent a car.
For those reasons, it is in your interest to have the DUI expunged or fully erased from all official records. The process of getting a DUI expunged is complex, but we will work on your behalf in the final stages of your DUI case.
ARD participants are automatically eligible to have their DUIs expunged. It requires some paperwork, which our lawyers can handle for you. The process is much more difficult if you are not in the program. The state will expunge a DUI if an offender reaches 70 years of age and has not faced arrest or prosecution for another offense in at least ten years. This will also happen if a person has been dead for three years.
How Can I Speak with a Delaware County DUI Attorney?
With all of the stress and complexity that a DUI will add to your life, it is important to have the right legal team on your side. Call the McKenzie Law Firm, PC today to arrange a consultation and build the strongest defense possible.