You may be able to beat a DUI charge without a lawyer. As with many legal cases, you are not required to retain legal representation in any criminal case – as long as the judge allows you to represent yourself. However, the legal system can be complicated, and many victims choose to seek legal counsel when they have been charged with a DUI.
The more complicated your case is, the more you may benefit from the services of a lawyer. Simply put, lawyers are more familiar with the law than the average person. While retaining a lawyer does not guarantee you will beat your DUI charge, it may give you peace of mind knowing you have a legal professional working on your case.
If you’re wondering if you can beat a DUI without a lawyer, you may want to consider how much you are risking by representing yourself in court. Some cases will be straightforward, while others will require a multi-level defense to combat the accusations of driving under the influence.
A Breathalyzer Test Is Not Necessary for a DUI Charge
You can still be charged with DUI even if you never took a breathalyzer test. Pennsylvania police officers can charge you with a DUI based on their intuition, which does not have to be supported with proof of your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). However, being arrested for a DUI does not mean you will automatically be convicted of the offense.
Once your case is brought to court, both sides will have the opportunity to present their case. To secure a conviction, the prosecutor will likely need some form of concrete proof – which may come in the form of video evidence, blood tests, breathalyzer results, or other forms of evidence.
Yet, if you refuse a Preliminary Alcohol Screening Test (PAS), otherwise known as a “breathalyzer,” your license may automatically be suspended for 12 months, according to Pennsylvania General Assembly Title 75 §1547. If you have previously been convicted of a DUI, your license may automatically be suspended for 18 months. Other penalties may apply.
A BAC Less than the Legal Limit Can Still Lead to a DUI Charge
You can be charged with DUI even if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is less than the legal limit of .08. For example, if you are intoxicated with a controlled substance or drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), you may be subject to more restrictions.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PENNDOT), these are the levels of impairment:
- General impairment: .08 to .099% BAC
- High BAC: .10 to .159% BAC
- Highest BAC: .16% BAC and above
Generally, anything above a .08 BAC is a “per se DUI,” but commercial motor vehicle drivers are subject to a limit of .04 BAC. Additionally, there is a zero-tolerance policy for underage drivers. As such, anything above a .02 BAC is enough to charge an underage offender with a DUI.
If the officer does not have sufficient evidence of your BAC, they may seek to charge you with a “DUI less safe.” This charge means that they cannot prove your illegal level of intoxication, but they believe your intoxication had a negative impact on your driving.
Punishments for DUI in Pennsylvania
According to PENNDOT, the higher the level of intoxication, the greater the penalties. Additionally, the penalties are generally more severe for repeat offenders.
While specific offenses have specific penalties, examples of punishments include:
- License suspensions (six months to eighteen months and beyond)
- Fines ($300 to $10,000)
- Prison sentence (five days to five years)
- Supervised probation
- Ignition interlocks
- Alcohol safety programs
- Substance abuse treatment
- first-degree or second-degree misdemeanors
DUI Attorneys Fighting for Your Rights
At McKenzie Law Firm P.C., we offer DUI defense services throughout the state of Pennsylvania. In doing so, we hope to fight wrongful convictions and uphold the true purpose of the law in our state. We know your life may seem uncertain after a DUI charge. That is why our attorneys want to help fight for your rights and get you back to your normal life.
You do not have to go through this alone. While it may be possible for you to beat a DUI without a lawyer, our attorneys will help you understand your legal options. Our team will be happy to address any questions or concerns you may have during your free consultation. To get started, contact a McKenzie Law Firm team member today at (610) 991-7219.