In Bucks County, a drunk driving conviction means potential jail time, large fines, and suspension of your driver’s license. A DUI conviction also means you will have a permanent criminal record. Before making any decisions that could affect your future, consider consulting with a DUI lawyer to learn more about your options. At the McKenzie Law Firm, P.C., our attorneys can help you through this challenging process by ensuring that you understand your legal rights. We can mount a compelling case for your defense and, in some cases, we may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor on your behalf, in hopes of having your charges reduced or even dismissed.
What are the penalties for a DUI conviction?
The specific charges you face will depend on the circumstances of your arrest and any past offenses you may have. The penalties for a Bucks County DUI conviction are as follows, based on a three-tier system.
How does a DUI conviction affect your life?
Once you have a conviction for drunk driving charges, this offense becomes a part of your permanent criminal record. Sealing your record or expunging DUI charges is rarely possible. As a result, you may have trouble getting car insurance in the future. If you can obtain insurance, you can expect to pay significantly higher premiums. A conviction may also prohibit you from obtaining professional licensure or, if you already hold a professional license, it may result in sanctions or fines. Your conviction will also show up whenever someone runs a background check on you. This means that potential employers will know about your DUI history and, in most cases, they can legally reject your application for this reason. Any future DUI charges you face will qualify you as a repeat offender, potentially increasing your monetary fines and extending the length of your jail sentence and driver’s license suspension.
What should you do if you get pulled over for drunk driving?
If an officer pulls you over, provide your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. It will not benefit you to be angry or aggressive toward the officer and, in fact, this behavior may lead to even bigger problems. Instead, be polite and respectful but do not offer any explanation of your actions. Do not admit fault or discuss what you may or may not have had to drink. You have no obligation to answer any questions during a stop. You should not agree or consent to a search of your car, your possessions, or your person. If the officer suspects that you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he or she may request that you participate in field sobriety testing or take a portable breathalyzer test. You are not legally obliged to agree but, if you refuse and receive a conviction, you may face tier three DUI penalties— the harshest possible—and a license suspension of up to 18 months.
Should you fight your DUI charge in court?
In most cases, you can choose to fight a DUI charge in court. You may also elect to negotiate for a lesser charge. With the help of our DUI lawyers, you may even be able to have your charges dropped completely. Our attorneys can examine the evidence against you and identify potential errors made by the arresting officer or during the toxicology testing phase of your DUI arrest. In Pennsylvania, the officer must adhere to legal processes and procedures for all DUI arrests. Some of the most common errors made during Bucks County DUI arrests include:
- The lack of reasonable suspicion of driver impairment;
- An illegal traffic stop;
- An illegal DUI checkpoint;
- Errors in field sobriety testing;
- The failure to inform you of your rights;
- Problems with breathalyzer equipment;
- Problems with breath testing procedures; and
- An improperly trained officer.
When you involve one of our attorneys early in the process, we will have more time to build your case and potentially negotiate with the prosecutor on your behalf.
Should you plead guilty to a DUI charge?
If fighting your DUI charge in court is not advisable, we can help you explore other options. If this is your first drunk driving offense, you may qualify for a Bucks County rehabilitation program. The Bucks County Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program gives some first-time offenders an attractive alternative to a trial. The focus of ARD is rehabilitation rather than punishment. Your attorney must prepare and submit an application on your behalf. If the judge accepts your application, you must comply with all the program terms. Otherwise, the court will automatically deem you guilty of all charges. However, once you complete the ARD program, your attorney can request to have your charges dismissed and your record expunged. If you qualify, you may also wish to consider the Bucks County Drug Court program. Designed for high-risk, high-need non-violent offenders, this program can help you through the rehab process for alcohol and/or drugs. Drug Court also requires an application and follows an acceptance process. The program takes one year to complete. During your time in the program, you must maintain employment, refrain from using alcohol and drugs, and establish a formal plan for aftercare. After completion of the program and payment of all fines and fees, the court may reduce or dismiss your charges.
How can a Bucks County DUI lawyer help me?
When facing drunk driving charges, the outcome of your case can affect your life for decades to come. Rather than risk your future to chance, enlist the help of the drunk driving attorneys at the McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. We can explain the entire process to you, answer all your questions, and help protect your legal rights. We offer complimentary consultations and case reviews to help you through this process. Contact us today at 610-680-7842 to schedule your appointment with a Bucks County DUI lawyer.