In Chester County, PA, a DUI conviction can disrupt your life and derail your future. Besides the potential jail time, monetary fines, and license suspension, a drunk driving conviction will remain on your record permanently. Fortunately, you have options when facing DUI charges. A Chester County DUI lawyer can explain your options and rights under the law, and help you choose the path that is right for you. An attorney can also assist you by building a vigorous case in your defense, negotiating for a lesser charge, or petitioning to have the charges against you dropped. The right approach in your case will depend on the details of your arrest and any prior convictions you may have.
How would a Chester County DUI conviction affect my life?
As with any criminal charge, you face various penalties such as fines, jail time, and license suspension. These penalties are dependent upon your blood alcohol content (BAC) as well as any previous convictions. In addition to the fines, jail time, license suspension, and other penalties, a Chester County DUI conviction will leave you with a permanent criminal record. According to ValuePenguin.com, this means you can expect to pay almost twice as much for auto insurance, if you can find an insurance carrier who will issue you coverage. You may also struggle to pass background checks for potential employers and landlords. If officers arrest you again in the next ten years, the court will classify you as a repeat offender. This means higher fines, longer jail time, and a longer license suspension. PennDOT will also flag you as a high risk on your driving record, increasing your chances of extended suspension or revocation if you have additional moving violations (i.e., traffic tickets).
Will I face charges for refusing to submit to a chemical test?
Yes. Per Pennsylvania’s implied consent law, you agree to take a blood, breath, or urine test if officers lawfully arrest you for DUI. If you refuse to submit to chemical BAC testing (a breath, blood or urine test), the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) will impose a mandatory 12- or 18-month suspension of your license. You can appeal this suspension but you have no assurances of prevailing in your appeal. You may also face increased jail time and penalties, as refusing to submit to BAC testing qualifies you for sentencing as a Highest BAC offender (the maximum penalties) if the state convicts you of DUI.
Do I have any potential defenses against a Chester County DUI charge?
Depending on the circumstances of your arrest and the prosecutor’s case against you, we may have viable options for fighting your Chester County DUI charges.
The U.S. Constitution and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania both provide protection from illegal search and seizure. This principle extends to a DUI traffic stop. If the officer who pulled you over cannot demonstrate reasonable suspicion for the stop in court, any evidence collected during the stop may be inadmissible in court.
Field Sobriety Testing Problems
Field sobriety testing often provides an opportunity to challenge a DUI arrest. Because the results are entirely subjective, based on the arresting officer’s opinion, we may find weaknesses in the way the officer administered the tests during your traffic stop.
Breath Testing Problems
Breath testing equipment may provide unreliable results due to poor calibration, improper maintenance or operator error. Some medical conditions, certain medications, and even your diet can skew the device readings. Even electronic devices can interfere with the device’s function. If we can demonstrate inaccuracies in your readings, this BAC evidence may be inadmissible in court. We will also work to determine whether the officer calibrated the equipment correctly or whether he had the proper certification to do so. Because every case is unique, having a Chester County DUI lawyer from the McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. examine the facts in your case may reveal additional avenues for fighting your charges.
Should I plead guilty to my DUI charges?
In some cases, it makes more sense to fight your charges; in others, accepting a plea bargain — in which you plead guilty to a lesser charge — may provide the best option. Pennsylvania also offers other reasonable options that you might qualify for and that might benefit you. Note: Before you make any decisions, be sure to speak with a lawyer to determine your best option.
Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD)
If you have no recent DUI convictions in Pennsylvania, you may qualify for the Chester County ARD program. ARD provides an alternative to the trial process. Focused on rehabilitation and prevention rather than punishment, you must meet the program requirements and apply for acceptance. Once you complete the program, you may request dismissal of the charges and expungement of your record.
Chester County Drug Court
If your DUI charge involved a drug offense, you may apply for the Chester County Drug Court program. This program is similar to ARD in many ways, requiring intense supervision and completion of all court-mandated programs. And, also like ARD, once you successfully complete the requirements imposed by the Drug Court program, the court will dismiss the charges and expunge your record. David McKenzie III can explain all the benefits and risks of these programs, as compared to your alternatives.
Call David McKenzie III for DUI defense help in Chester County.
When choosing a Chester County DUI lawyer to assist you, remember how strongly your case outcome will affect your life. Do not leave the outcome to chance, or try to fight this battle alone. Contact the McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation with a Chester County DUI lawyer: 610-680-7842.