If you are facing a DUI in Pennsylvania, you may be wondering how a conviction will affect your future. You probably have questions, like:
- How much are the fines?
- Will I lose my driver’s license?
- Will I go to jail?
Upon conviction for a DUI in Lower Makefield, each of those scenarios is a real possibility—but there is more. You will also have a permanent criminal record that can hinder your ability to get a job, rent a house, or hold a professional license.
Do not try to fight these charges on your own. Contact McKenzie Law Firm, P.C., to ensure the protection of your legal rights. Our DUI lawyers can give you the best chance to avoid these life-altering events.
Call us at 610-680-7842 to speak to a Lower Makefield DUI lawyer.
How Will a DUI Conviction Affect My Life?
A DUI conviction will mean substantial fines and either probation or a jail sentence. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) will suspend your driver’s license for up to 18 months.
The judge will mandate your attendance at alcohol highway safety school and likely require that you install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. You may also have to go to rehab or substance abuse counseling.
The conviction will also become a part of your permanent criminal record.
This means that your crime will show up anytime someone runs a background check on you. Potential employers and landlords typically run background checks, so your DUI can prevent you from getting a job or renting an apartment or a house. It will also prevent you from holding many types of professional licensure, such as a real estate license.
The cost of your car insurance will soar and you will have significantly fewer options for insurance companies and coverages.
The best way to avoid these consequences is to contact our attorneys today. We can build a strong defense on your behalf to fight a conviction for your DUI.
Does a DUI Conviction Require Jail Time?
If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was below 0.10 percent and you have no prior drunk driving convictions on your record, the judge may order probation for up to six months. In that case, if no exaggerating circumstances accompanied your arrest, you should avoid jail time.
If your BAC registered at 0.10 percent or above—or if you have a record of prior DUIs—you will probably receive a jail sentence.
The penalty matrix for DUI convictions in Pennsylvania illustrates the severity of the consequences that accompany a conviction.
In addition to the fines listed above, you must pay to attend the alcohol highway safety course and pay all court costs related to your case. You must also pay for any court-ordered substance abuse treatment program you attend.
Whether your conviction includes jail time or not, the monetary cost of a DUI adds up quickly.
How Can a DUI Lawyer Help Me Fight My Charges?
Our attorneys understand that even a seemingly damning BAC test does not mean automatic conviction.
We will immediately begin gathering and evaluating the evidence in your case. Police reports and dash cam footage can provide important insight into your situation. We will also collect data related to the testing procedures and equipment the police used to test your BAC.
Any potential problems in how the police handled your case—or in how they tested your BAC—will provide us with opportunities to negotiate with the prosecutor to have your charges reduced or dismissed.
Here are some of the most common tactics we use to challenge drunk driving charges.
Lack of Reasonable Suspicion
Police officers must have reasonable suspicion that your BAC exceeds the legal limit before pulling you over.
Illegal DUI Checkpoint
The police must follow specific guidelines to operate a DUI checkpoint, such as obtaining proper approvals and applying consistent practices in determining which cars to stop.
Illegal Field Sobriety Testing
Police officers must adhere to established guidelines for administering field sobriety testing.
Lack of Probable Cause
Officers need to establish probable cause before they can arrest you. They may use field sobriety testing or roadside breath testing equipment to establish this, later requesting official chemical testing.
Illegal Chemical Testing
A variety of factors can invalidate chemical BAC testing, including improper testing technician training and failure to service and test breathalyzer equipment.
Violation of Legal Rights
This typically involves the failure of police to advise you of your legal rights prior to questioning you.
If we cannot convince the prosecutor to negotiate for a lesser charge, you may have to take your fight to court. We will build a case for your defense and use the available evidence to create reasonable doubt of your guilt.
Can I Seal or Expunge a Conviction From My Record?
Only senior citizens and deceased people typically qualify for having their criminal record expunged or sealed. If this is your first offense, however, you may be able to participate in an accelerated rehabilitative disposition (ARD) program, such as the Bucks County ARD program. The ARD program allows first-time offenders to avoid jail time and offers them the opportunity to have their charges dismissed and their record expunged.
You must apply for acceptance into the ARD program. Our attorneys can help you apply, although an application does not guarantee acceptance. Upon acceptance, you must agree to the terms of the program for the entire duration. You must attend the alcohol highway safety course and community service. At the end of the program term, if you complied and did not have further criminal charges, the judge dismisses your charges and expunges your record.
You must pay to participate in ARD and, even after your expungement, participating in ARD will count as a prior conviction if you get another DUI. However, this is a unique and invaluable opportunity to avoid the permanent record that comes with a DUI conviction in Lower Makefield.
If you fail to successfully complete the program, your case will go back to court for sentencing on the original charges.
We can help you determine if ARD is a good option for you. Our attorneys are standing by to answer your questions about the program and evaluate the potential benefits of participation.
How Can I Talk to a DUI Lawyer in Lower Makefield for Free?
Attorney David C. McKenzie III of the McKenzie Law Firm, P.C., has extensive experience as a prosecutor as well as a DUI lawyer. He will use his knowledge and experience to help you through this challenging time.
We offer free consultations, so you can get your questions answered and make the right choice for your future. You can call our office today at 610-680-7842 to schedule an appointment.