If you hold a Pennsylvania driver’s license and are arrested for drunk driving in another state for the first time, the state will not suspend your license. Matters change if this is your subsequent offense; then the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PDOT) will suspend your license, complicating how you can travel in between states.
A good way to retain your driving privileges, no matter where you live, is to consider partnering with a DUI defense lawyer in Montgomery County. They can assess your case, investigate the details of your arrest, and fight for your freedom.
Pennsylvania Partakes in the Driver’s License Compact (DLC)
Pennsylvania is part of the DLC, which consists of 45 member states. These states agree to share information about drivers and driving records with one another. They don’t care about parking tickets and minor offenses, like speeding. It’s more about serious offenses.
For instance, if you get a severe traffic infraction in New Jersey, the information will be shared with the PDOT. This prevents people from getting their license suspended in one state, and then attempting to “start over” somewhere new.
There are some crimes that, however, will result in license suspension no matter where you are. They include things like hit-and-runs and vehicular homicide.
What States Aren’t Part of the DLC?
Forty-five states are part of the DLC. These states are not:
If you were arrested for a DUI in these states, and you hold a Pennsylvania driver’s license, you could benefit from discussing your case with a criminal defense lawyer. They can explain your options and help you avoid a conviction.
It’s in Your Best Interest to Avoid a DUI Conviction in Any State
Pennsylvania takes DUIs very seriously, but the state also has alternatives for first-time offenders. Specifically, it has a program called Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) that allows residents to maintain their licenses. To qualify for this program, you must meet the following criteria:
- You are a first-time offender with no prior criminal convictions.
- You cannot have gone through the ARD program already.
- You have a valid driver’s license and have insurance.
- You did not have any minors in the vehicle at the time of your arrest.
- You did not cause an accident where serious injuries or deaths were involved.
If you meet these qualifications, a DUI defense lawyer can submit your case for consideration for the ARD program. The prosecutor in your case must also certify your application, and you will also have to comply with the requirements of the ARD program. If accepted, you must comply fully with the program terms, which may include:
- Paying restitution to anyone who suffered financially due to your DUI.
- Submitting yourself to court-ordered supervision for a pre-determined period.
- Paying any fees as ordered by the judge in your case.
- Completing an alcohol awareness class from an accredited course provider (at your expense).
Successful completion of the program can result in your record being expunged and your charges dismissed.
What Is Pennsylvania’s “Look-Back Period”?
Pennsylvania will automatically suspend your drivers license for one year if you are convicted of DUI for a second time during what is known as a “look-back period.” This is the time frame during which the law allows prosecutors to consider your prior criminal record after a subsequent arrest. Under Pennsylvania law, out-of-state convictions during the “look-back period” can be considered if you’re arrested again.
Pennsylvania’s “look back period” on DUIs is ten years. The state will treat you as a repeat offender if you’re convicted of DUI outside Pennsylvania within ten years of your most recent in-state conviction. That means the state will suspend your license for one year.
That also means if you have convictions for an out-of-state DUI within the last ten years, you won’t qualify for ARD after a subsequent DUI arrest in Pennsylvania. If you complete the ARD program and get convicted of DUI in another state in the next 10 years, that conviction will be treated as a second offense, meaning Pennsylvania will suspend your license.
Why Work With a Criminal Defense Lawyer on My DUI Case?
Look: no one wants to have a criminal record. It makes getting housing difficult, maintaining your license complicated, and securing reasonable insurance rates next to impossible. When you work with a lawyer, they do more than aim to secure a “not guilty” verdict; they intend to minimize the effects of a criminal charge on your life.
Fighting for your rights involves:
- Scrutinizing the prosecution’s evidence
- Creating a defense strategy
- Gathering supporting evidence
- Taking depositions
- Evaluating the details of your arrest
- Requesting to have certain evidence disregarded from trial
Your lawyer also helps you combat the penalties that come with a DUI conviction. Per the PDOT, a “guilty” verdict could result in fines, jail time, and the loss of your driver’s license.
What Should I Do While Facing an Out-of-State DUI?
Whether you’re facing a DUI charge in Pennsylvania or a neighboring state, the following considerations could bolster your case:
- Adhere to the terms of your license suspension. You don’t want to face DUI charges, then get caught driving on a suspended license. This will only compound the penalties you could face, resulting in higher fines and more days in jail.
- Refuse to talk to law enforcement without a lawyer. The police may try to get an on-the-record statement and use that information to help the prosecutor secure a conviction. A word of advice: let your lawyer give the state the information it needs. Don’t say anything without an attorney present.
A Pennsylvania DUI Lawyer Can Fight in-State Charges for You
It’s never a good thing to be arrested. Yet, a criminal charge doesn’t have to be the end of your life as you know it. You have legal options, and one of those options involves securing help from an experienced criminal defense attorney.
If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Pennsylvania, a big part of your future hinges on the outcome of your case. A Pennsylvania DUI attorney from McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. can fight the charges on your behalf. Contact us for a free initial consultation and learn how we can help.