You do not necessarily need to plead guilty to DUI in Pennsylvania. If you do so, you will definitely end up with a DUI conviction, which carries stiff penalties and puts a permanent mark on your criminal record.
Before you plead guilty to DUI in Pennsylvania, discuss your options with a criminal defense lawyer. You may be able to resolve your case without incurring fines, facing jail time, losing your driver’s license, or suffering other consequences. For a free consultation with a member of the McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. team, call 610-680-7842 today.
Alternatives to Pleading Guilty to DUI
A guilty plea is not the only way to resolve a DUI charge in Pennsylvania. If you plead guilty before consulting with a DUI lawyer, you will get convicted. Worst of all, you will never know if there was a flaw in the prosecution’s case; it might have been enough to help you avoid a conviction.
The details of your case determine the best alternative to pleading guilty to DUI. The two most common alternatives are accepting a plea bargain and pleading not guilty.
Accepting a Plea Bargain
When you accept a plea bargain, you agree to plead guilty to a lesser charge than the one you are facing, which creates a win-win situation. The prosecution still gets a conviction, and you receive a lesser punishment (and a lesser crime on your record).
A common plea bargain in DUI cases involves pleading down to reckless driving. This is a more serious offense than speeding or running a stop sign, but it does not always result in jail time or license suspension, particularly for a first offense. Furthermore, it does not affect your criminal record on a long-term basis the way a DUI conviction does.
Pleading Not Guilty
Your other option is often the best one: plead not guilty. If the arresting officer made any mistakes, or if the device used to test your BAC was not properly calibrated, your charge might not be valid. A DUI defense attorney in Pennsylvania can investigate to see if there are any such factors in your case.
What Happens if You Get Convicted of DUI in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania has strict DUI laws. Even if your BAC is below 0.1 percent (but above the legal limit of 0.08 percent) and you have no prior DUI offenses, you could face six months’ probation, a $300 fine, a traffic safety course, and alcohol rehab.
If your BAC is above 0.1 percent, the fine shoots as high as $5,000 and you could face up to six months in jail and 12 months of driver’s license suspension — even for a first offense.
The penalties are more severe with subsequent DUI convictions. This is why it is essential, when possible, to avoid even one DUI conviction — and that is difficult to do if you plead guilty without considering your other options.
Why You Should Consult With a Pennsylvania DUI Lawyer Before Pleading Guilty to DUI
A Pennsylvania DUI lawyer can help you avoid a DUI conviction and the associated consequences. Your lawyers will review the details of your arrest and charges and determine if they can exploit any holes in the prosecution’s case. Remember, if there is reasonable doubt about your guilt or issues concerning the circumstances of your arrest, you may be acquitted of the DUI charge.
If the prosecution’s case is strong, your lawyer might suggest offering a plea bargain instead of pleading not guilty. Lawyers have a number of ways to sweeten a plea bargain deal and convince the prosecutor to accept it. If you have mitigating circumstances in your favor — perhaps it was your first offense, or maybe you have already entered alcohol rehab — a lawyer can use these to your advantage.
Call 610-680-7842 Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation With a Member of the DUI Team at McKenzie Law Firm, P.C.
If you are facing a DUI charge in Pennsylvania, you could be looking at severe penalties and a conviction that stays on your record for life. Before pleading guilty, consult with David McKenzie and his team at McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. David is a former prosecutor; after years on that side, he understands how they operate. For a free consultation, call us at 610-680-7842.