How Is a DUI Blood Test Conducted in Pennsylvania_

How Is a DUI Blood Test Conducted in Pennsylvania?

Following a DUI arrest in Pennsylvania, officers may choose to ask the defendant to submit to either a breathalyzer test or a blood test. If a blood test is chosen, the motorist will be transported to a local hospital after being placed in handcuffs and taken into custody. The motorist will either need to consent to the blood test, or the officer will need to secure a warrant. Then, the motorist will be taken to an area where his or her blood will be drawn by a phlebotomist. The phlebotomist will draw the blood and give it to the officer, and it will be placed in a bag for transporting that is sealed and labeled. Many people call the hospitals where their blood was drawn to ask for the results, but the hospital will not know them. The officers take the blood back to the police station where it should be refrigerated and then sent to a crime lab for analysis. If the officer suspects that the driver is under the influence of drugs, the blood sample might be sent to a lab to determine what drugs might be present in the blood. If you have been arrested for a DUI and have questions about your blood test, talk to the legal team at DiCindio Law.

In some jurisdictions, roving DUI patrols are becoming more frequent. For these, the police might have a phlebotomist at the police station. All of the DUI arrests during a specific night might have their blood drawn by the phlebotomist at the police station. The blood will then be packaged and left so that the officer can send it to the crime lab to be analyzed.

When does an officer use a blood test instead of a breath test?

The arresting officer is the person who chooses the type of chemical test that will be given after a DUI arrest. Some officers only administer breath tests. Other police departments do not own a breathalyzer machine and only ask for blood tests. The type of test that you might be asked to submit to after your DUI arrest will depend on the policy of the police department. In cases in which drug impairment is suspected, the officer will opt for a blood test since drugs are not reliably detectable with breath tests.

Can you refuse a blood test?

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in a 2016 case that police officers must get a warrant to take blood for a blood test. The police do not have to get a warrant to obtain a breath sample, however. For blood tests, many police officers ask motorists to give them their blood and do not inform them that they have the right to demand a warrant. When that happens, an attorney can file a motion in court about your blood test and whether it was obtained unconstitutionally. If you refuse a blood test for which the officer did not have a warrant, your lawyer might argue that you should not be penalized because of the Supreme Court’s ruling. However, the state’s laws mandate that all drivers must submit to chemical testing in DUI cases, meaning that you can face driver’s license consequences for your refusal with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Are blood tests in DUI cases accurate?

For a test to provide valid results, it must be administered properly. Blood can ferment if it is not correctly refrigerated and stored and provide inaccurate results. Blood tests that are analyzed at a crime lab are more reliable than blood tests that are analyzed at a hospital. When people have their blood tested in a hospital after an accident, the doctors want to find out whether the person was injured and the types of drugs that are present so that they know what they can safely administer. Hospital labs do not have the same types of procedures in place that crime labs do.

Crime labs normally use gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy. The devices that are used for GC/MS tests are error-prone and are subject to introduced errors from improper calibration and maintenance. An attorney can request a packet of information from the lab to review to determine whether the lab produced valid results. In many cases, there are errors that have occurred. Your attorney can use any errors that he or she finds to seek to have the blood test results suppressed in court. If they are suppressed, the prosecutor will not be able to use the results as evidence against you.

What are some defenses to use against blood tests?

Your attorney will review the evidence to determine the appropriate defenses to raise. The GC/MS machine produces results and prints out a graph. The graph should include a line indicating alcohol. The graph could have other lines if there are other substances detected. Contamination is a large problem in blood alcohol testing. The machine has to be properly calibrated and maintained so that previous samples that have been tested do not contaminate subsequent samples. Your lawyer might also investigate whether the analyst used the proper solutions and whether they were expired. Your lawyer will go through a checklist to determine whether your blood was properly analyzed.

Get help from DiCindio Law

Many people think that blood test results are 100% accurate. However, that is simply not the case. Errors can be introduced during the blood draw, storage, transportation, and testing process. To learn more about your blood test results and your options, contact DiCindio Law today to schedule a consultation by calling 610.430.3535.

Top Police Mistakes in a DUI Investigation

Top Police Mistakes in a DUI Investigation

If you have been arrested and charged for a drunk driving offense, you might think that you will automatically be found guilty as charged. Even if you were impaired, the prosecutor is still required to meet the burden of proof to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Police officers sometimes make mistakes that can lead to a dismissal of your charges or a not guilty verdict at trial. At DiCindio Law, we can review your case to determine whether the officer made mistakes that can be explored. Here are some of the most common mistakes that officers make in DUI cases.

Making an invalid stop

Police officers cannot stop cars unless they have reasonable suspicion to believe that the occupants have committed traffic violations or crimes. A stop cannot be based on the officer’s hunch without anything to support the basis for it. Typical examples of the types of things that could support a stop include traffic offenses or equipment violations. If the officer stopped you for an invalid reason, the stop can be suppressed. When a stop is found to be invalid, everything that the officer learns after the stop will also be suppressed. In a DUI case, this would include the officer’s observations of you, your performance on any SFSTs, your arrest, and the results of your chemical testing. When a stop is suppressed, it normally means that the prosecutor will be forced to dismiss the charges.

Improperly administered field sobriety tests

Three field sobriety tests, including the one-legged stand, the walk-and-turn, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus tests, have been standardized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. When these tests are properly administered, they can indicate that a driver is under the influence of alcohol. Officers must undergo training on how to properly administer the tests. Despite this, many DUI stops involve mistakes made during the administration of the SFSTs. Your lawyer can review the tests and challenge any mistakes that the officer made. This can result in the tests being suppressed from the evidence, which can weaken the prosecutor’s case.

Mistakes made during the chemical testing

Chemical tests in Pennsylvania can include a breath test, a blood test, or a urine test. Most officers choose the breath or blood test. Breathalyzer machines can give inaccurate results if they are not calibrated correctly and maintained regularly. The officer who administers the test must also follow specific procedures and have current certifications. If any mistakes have been made, they can make the results suspect. If your lawyer can demonstrate that the breathalyzer test was improperly administered, your results might be thrown out.

Blood tests are also subject to errors. Your lawyer might review the training of the person who drew your blood to make sure that the protocols were correctly followed. He or she might also review how the sample was stored and sent to the lab. Finally, your attorney might ask for the second vial of blood to be tested if he or she suspects that your sample might have been stored incorrectly or contaminated.

Lack of objectivity

Officers are expected to be fair and impartial when they pull people over. Part of this expectation includes making fair observations and being willing to admit when someone passed the standardized field sobriety tests. When an officer is not objective, videotape evidence often exposes the inconsistencies and inaccuracies in their reports.

Failing to document everything

Some police officers fail to save their field notes. These officers might subsequently claim that the people they stopped acted in a specific way or failed a field sobriety test. When an officer who fails to properly document everything is asked to support his or her conclusions and report, it is common for the officer to claim that he or she does not remember or to rely on a summary that he or she created from memory. Officers should never destroy field notes until after a case has been completed.

Assuming that the DUI case cannot be lost

A common mistake that police officers make is believing that their DUI cases cannot be lost. When officers make this mistake, they are likelier to make other errors in their testimony and their courtroom demeanor. Officers who are overconfident in their abilities to sway juries and judges are often unprepared. This can leave them open to a vigorous cross-examination and an exposure of their mistakes.

Ignoring the rights of the defendant

The criminal justice system recognizes the constitutional rights of defendants. Charges are not evidence of guilt, and people have numerous rights against unfair prosecutions. Some police officers treat the criminal justice system as a game and look at defendants as nothing but pawns. These officers tend to ignore the rights of defendants and may be disrespectful to the suspects, witnesses, jury, lawyer, and the prosecutor. An officer who behaves in this way only serves to harm his or her case. If he or she has violated the defendant’s constitutional rights, the officer runs the risk that the entire case will be thrown out. Disrespectful officers also tend to harm the state’s case when they behave poorly in the courtroom.

While police officer mistakes can make your DUI stop and subsequent case emotionally difficult, they can be potentially helpful in securing an outright dismissal or a plea to a lesser offense. To learn more about your case and whether the police officer might have made critical errors, contact Michael DiCindio at DiCindio Law today by calling 610.430.3535.

Do I have to take a breath, blood, or urine test if I’m stopped for driving under the influence?

When people are pulled over because of an officer’s suspicion that they might be driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances, the officer will conduct an investigation. The investigation might include officer questioning, observations, and field sobriety tests. If the officer develops probable cause to believe that a person has been driving under the influence, he or she might take the person into custody and transport him or her to the police station for further testing of the breath, blood, or urine. Some Pennsylvanians think that it is better to refuse chemical testing so that the police will not have evidence to use against them. Here is what the legal team at DiCindio Law believes that you should know about refusing breath, blood, or urine tests in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania’s implied consent law

Under 75 Pa.C.S. § 1547, people who drive vehicles in Pennsylvania are deemed to have implicitly given consent for their breath, blood, or urine to be tested for the presence of alcohol or drugs in situations in which police officers have reasonable grounds to believe that they have been driving under the influence. If a driver refuses to submit to testing, the police officer can seek a search warrant to get a blood sample. While it is not a criminal offense to refuse a test, there are civil penalties attached to refusal. People who are convicted of a DUI offense for which they refused testing will also face stiffer penalties.

Refusing to take a preliminary breath test

If a police officer thinks that you might be driving under the influence of alcohol, the officer might ask you to perform several field sobriety tests, including the walk and turn, one-legged stand, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus. These are physical and cognitive performance tests that are conducted at the roadside. The officer might also ask you to submit to a preliminary breath test. This is a roadside test in which people are asked to blow into a portable device so that the officer can determine whether they have alcohol in their systems. The implied consent law does not apply to standardized field sobriety tests or preliminary breath tests. You do have the right to refuse the SFSTs and the PBT. However, if an officer has other indications that you may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including the smell of alcohol, your speech, bloodshot eyes, and your appearance, the officer might take you into custody and ask you to submit to a breathalyzer test at the police station.

Breathalyzer test at the police station

If you either refuse a PBT or take one with results that indicate the possible presence of alcohol, the police officer will likely take you to the police station for further testing. You do not have the right to refuse this second chemical test. Most people are asked to submit to breathalyzer tests at the law enforcement agency. If you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test, you will face civil penalties and stiffer criminal penalties for the DUI offense. The breathalyzer test is administered by a trained police officer who must follow a specific protocol for the test. He or she will have you blow into a machine, and the machine will analyze your breath and print the results out. If the test shows the presence of alcohol, the penalties that you might face will depend on the blood alcohol concentration that is revealed by the breathalyzer test and on whether you have any prior DUI convictions within the last 10 years.

Blood tests

In some counties in Pennsylvania, police officers transport DUI suspects to a hospital to have their blood drawn by phlebotomists. Police officers might also file affidavits for search warrants to obtain blood samples when they have probable cause to believe that the people are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. An officer might ask for a blood test when a person submits a PBT result that shows no alcohol in his or her system, but the officer has probable cause to believe that the person is under the influence of other substances. Like a breath test, people in Pennsylvania are deemed to have given implied consent to a blood test when they drive in the state.

Urine tests

Urine tests are rarely used in Pennsylvania DUI cases because they are unreliable. When you submit to a urine test, it will show the presence of metabolites without differentiating between them and the active drug in your system. Urine tests are generally not used in cases involving alcohol, but they might be used in DUI-drug cases if a blood test is not available.

Penalties for refusing a breath, blood, or urine test

The civil penalties for refusing a breath, blood, or urine test in Pennsylvania include the following:

  • Automatic 12-month suspension for a first refusal
  • Automatic 18-month suspension if you have a prior refusal, a prior DUI conviction, or another similar prior offense
  • Restoration fee of $500 up to $2,000
  • Ignition interlock device installed
  • Refusal can be used as evidence against you in court in your DUI case

People who refuse chemical tests may also face the same penalties of the highest BAC DUI if they are convicted.

Get help from an experienced DUI defense attorney

Understanding the consequences of refusing to submit to chemical testing is important so that you can weigh your options. If you are charged with a DUI, an experienced criminal defense attorney at DiCindio Law can review the test that was performed and potentially identify problems with how it was conducted. Your lawyer might also look at the circumstances that surrounded your arrest to determine whether the officer had reasonable suspicion to stop you and probable cause to arrest you. Depending on what happened, a lawyer might be able to win suppression of some or all of the evidence against you. Contact DiCindio Law to schedule a consultation by calling us at 610.430.3535 or by filling out our online contact form.

How long does it take to receive DUI charges in PA?

People who are arrested for DUI offenses normally are not provided with complaints by the arresting officers. A complaint is a document that lists the charges against people who are charged with crimes. Typically, an officer will wait until blood test results arrive or wait to file the complaint even though a breath test was administered. Instead, you might be told that your summons will be mailed to you when you are released from custody. The summons to appear tells you when to appear in court for your preliminary hearing and may not be mailed to you for several weeks after you receive the complaint. In some cases, a couple of months might pass before a driver receives the summons to appear and the complaint. If you have been arrested for a DUI, an attorney at DiCindio Law can explain what to expect next.

What happens when someone is arrested for a DUI?

When people are arrested for DUI offenses, they are transported to the police station and will be asked to submit to a breath, urine, or blood test. Breath tests use machines to analyze the amount of alcohol contained in a person’s breath. If the officer wants to obtain blood samples, the person will be transported to a hospital so that a phlebotomist or nurse can draw it. For blood testing, two vials of blood are drawn and sent to a laboratory. The analysis of blood samples can take three or more weeks, and the blood test results will not be provided until the analysis is completed.

Police officers rarely ask people to provide urine samples. However, an officer might request a urine sample for a DUI offense in which the officer suspects that drugs might be involved.

When you drive in Pennsylvania, you are considered to have given your implied consent to chemical testing when you are asked to do so by an officer. However, police officers still need to establish probable cause to arrest you and to take you to the police station to test your breath or to the hospital to get blood samples.

After your release from custody

After you are released from custody, you will be mailed a summons to appear and a complaint. Instead of waiting to talk to an attorney until after you receive these documents, it is a good idea to get help from a lawyer as soon as possible after your arrest. This will give your lawyer more time to conduct an initial investigation. Interviewing witnesses soon after the event occurred might help to make certain that they remember things accurately. If an accident happened, getting pictures of the scene and the damage can be important.

Time for the complaint and summons

In some cases, the complaint will be filed in court before the lab results return. In these cases, the prosecutor will disclose the blood test results during the preliminary hearing. The summons and complaint are typically mailed to defendants within 15 to 30 days after their arrests.

The preliminary hearing

The summons to appear will provide you with the court name, court date, and the time for you to appear at your preliminary hearing. This hearing gives your lawyer the chance to talk with the arresting officer and the prosecutor. In some cases, the officer might agree to withdraw the complaint or some of the charges. The preliminary hearing also gives your lawyer the chance to question the officer and other witnesses that the prosecutor might call at the hearing. The preliminary hearing is held to allow the prosecutor to present evidence establishing probable cause to believe that the DUI charges occurred. Establishing probable cause doesn’t require nearly as much evidence as what a prosecutor has to present at a jury or bench trial. If the court finds that the prosecutor has established probable cause, the case will be scheduled for further proceedings.

Attorneys may contact the police officers before the preliminary hearing to find out what the blood test results are. Many times, the police officers do not return the calls. However, if a lawyer can learn what the results are before the preliminary hearing, he or she can explain the potential penalties for the DUI offense based on the client’s BAC level. In Pennsylvania, there are three tiers for DUI offenses that are based on your BAC level. If you are convicted for a DUI offense, your breath or blood test results will determine the penalties that you will face. The highest BAC offense level or drug DUIs will carry much greater penalties than lower-level DUI offenses.

Blood test results might not be available on the date of the preliminary hearing. This can happen when the police officers send the samples to the state lab instead of a private lab for analysis. When this happens, a lawyer might ask for the preliminary hearing to be rescheduled for a later date. The attorney might try to reach the police officer before the scheduled hearing date to find out whether the blood test results are back so that he or she can request a continuance from the court if necessary.

Get help from an experienced lawyer at DiCindio Law

If you are arrested based on an officer’s suspicion that you were driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, you should get legal help. An experienced DUI defense attorney might begin working on your case before the preliminary hearing. Depending on the facts and circumstances, it is possible for a lawyer to get the officer to withdraw the complaint before the preliminary hearing. You should not wait to contact an attorney until the complaint and summons arrive in the mail. When you do this, you prevent your lawyer from taking important initial steps in investigating your case. Contact DiCindio Law today to schedule a consultation so that you can learn more about your case and what to expect by calling our firm at (630) 430-3535 or by filling out our contact form.

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in Pennsylvania?

If you are facing charges for driving under the influence in Pennsylvania, you might wonder how long the offense will remain on your record. A drunk driving charge is a misdemeanor criminal offense and will appear on your criminal, credit, driving, and insurance records. Criminal convictions in Pennsylvania are considered to be public records. If you are convicted of a DUI, your record will be updated in the National Driver Register with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The national credit reporting agencies will be notified and can include the information about your DUI conviction in your credit history. This means that when a potential landlord, employer, insurance company, or car rental agency asks for a credit report or background check, they will see your DUI conviction unless you are given limited access relief or have it expunged. DiCindio Law can defend against your DUI charge or help you to gain limited access relief to prevent most people from being able to see it.

Consequences of having a DUI on your record

Being convicted of a DUI means that you will face multiple penalties, including potential jail or prison time, substantial fines, alcohol classes, and others. Once you complete your sentence, a DUI conviction can cause ongoing problems in many areas of your life, including employment, housing, and insurance rates.

Many employers ask applicants to submit to background checks for employment. Some companies cannot hire workers who have prior convictions for driving under the influence, and others refuse to hire people who have DUI convictions. Employers that enter into government contracts or that have their employees drive company vehicles may be unable to hire you if you have a DUI on your record. You might also encounter problems with obtaining a professional license for jobs that require them, including real estate agents and attorneys.

Like employers, many landlords and property managers ask applicants to submit to criminal and credit background checks before they will agree to lease apartments or homes. Any type of criminal conviction on your record might cause a landlord or property manager to reject your rental application.

Having a DUI conviction on your record will cause your insurance rates to go up and can harm your ability to find affordable car insurance. Drivers in Pennsylvania who have DUI convictions on their records may have car insurance rates that are twice as much as people who do not have DUI convictions. Even if a DUI conviction was a first offense, it can continue to cause problems for you throughout your life.

Can DUIs in Pennsylvania be expunged?

Expunging a criminal conviction from your record means that it will be sealed from public and state views. DUI convictions can be expunged under limited circumstances. A DUI can be expunged if a court orders you to complete the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition or ARD program after you successfully finish it. You have to apply for acceptance by the ARD program. If you complete it successfully, your DUI will be dismissed. This means that you will not have a conviction.

If you participate in the ARD program, you may be required to perform community service and participate in a substance abuse program. If you have any victims, you will be required to pay restitution to them. While you are participating in ARD, you will be supervised in the county where your DUI happened.

Pennsylvania

A DUI that was dismissed before or after a jury or bench trial can be expunged. In 2016, a new expungement law went into effect in Pennsylvania. Under this law, you might be able to secure limited access status for your DUI conviction. A conviction for which limited access has been ordered will only be accessible by state agencies and law enforcement agencies. It will not be viewable by most employers or landlords.

How do you obtain an expungement of a DUI?

To have a DUI expunged from your record in Pennsylvania, you must meet the requirements that are outlined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 9122 and file a petition with the court. However, there is no guarantee that your request will be granted. DiCindio Law can work to help you to expunge your DUI from your record if you are eligible, and we can discuss other options that might be available to you if you are not eligible for an expungement.

Is it possible to get a clear driver’s license in a different state?

In the past, it was sometimes possible for people to get clear driver’s licenses by going to different states. That is no longer possible, however. The driving records for people in every state are now included in the problem driver pointer system with the NHTSA. When you try to get a driver’s license in a new state, the motor vehicle department will check the national database to see the status of your license and your driving history nationwide. If you have a conviction or have previously had your license suspended, revoked, or denied, the department of motor vehicles in a new state will see it. This means that you will not be able to get a clear driver’s license in a new state.

Get help from an experienced attorney at DiCindio Law

The only way to prevent a DUI from causing problems in your life is to avoid being convicted. You can avoid a DUI conviction by not driving your vehicle while you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, people make mistakes, and you might be facing a DUI charge.

A DUI charge is not evidence and does not mean that you will be convicted or have a permanent record of conviction. If you are facing DUI charges, you should seek help from an experienced DUI defense attorney at DiCindio Law. An experienced lawyer can review the evidence to identify potential defenses that might be available and explain the options that you have. Michael DiCindio has years of experience defending against DUI charges. Contact DiCindio Law today by calling (610) 430-3535 or by filling out our contact form.

Is it better to plead guilty or not guilty to a DUI?

When you are charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania, you will not be required to plead guilty to the offense. Being charged with an offense does not mean that you are guilty. Even if you believe that you were driving while impaired, there are situations in which you should not plead guilty. If you plead guilty to a DUI, you will have a misdemeanor conviction on your record and face harsh penalties. The team at DiCindio Law can help you to figure out your legal options so that you might secure a better outcome.

Resolving DUI charges

In Pennsylvania, you have alternatives available to you to resolve your DUI charge. If you enter a guilty plea without talking to a DUI attorney, you will be convicted as charged and face criminal penalties. Pleading guilty early in a case also means that potential flaws in the state’s case might go undiscovered. When errors occurred, an attorney might have been able to get the charges dismissed. If you plead guilty, however, it is very unlikely that you will be allowed to withdraw your plea.

The facts and circumstances of your case help to determine what alternatives might be available to you. The most common choices are accepting a plea offer or entering a not guilty plea.

Negotiating a plea offer

Attorneys negotiate with the prosecutors to try to secure plea bargains to lesser charges than what their clients are facing. Prosecutors view plea bargains as a winning scenario because they are able to secure convictions. Plea bargains are also good for defendants because they receive reduced penalties. Courts encourage attorneys to negotiate plea bargains because their dockets are frequently packed. Allowing lesser crimes to be resolved through the plea bargaining process frees up the court’s time to try more important cases.

In Pennsylvania, some DUI cases can be resolved by agreements to plead guilty to reckless driving. While it is still more serious than other types of traffic violations, a conviction for reckless driving will normally not result in jail time and will have a much lower impact on your life than a DUI conviction might have.

Entering a not guilty plea

Another option that you have when you are facing DUI charges is to enter a not guilty plea. If the officer made mistakes in the stop, search, seizure, or investigation, a DUI defense lawyer at DiCindio Law might be able to win your case. Your lawyer will carefully evaluate the evidence and police reports in your case to try to identify mistakes that could be fatal to the state’s case against you.

What happens if you are convicted of a DUI?

Pennsylvania has harsh penalties for people who are convicted of DUI defenses. If your blood alcohol concentration is higher than the legal limit of 0.08% but lower than 0.10%, you can still face up to six months of probation, be forced to attend a traffic safety class, ordered to pay a $300 fine, and ordered to attend alcohol classes.

If you plead guilty to a DUI offense with a BAC that is 0.10% or higher, the potential penalties are much more serious. Even for a first offense, you can lose your driving privileges for one year, face potential time in jail, and receive fines of up to $5,000.

If you have prior DUI convictions, the penalties will also be more severe. It is important for you to try to avoid getting a single DUI conviction. If you plead guilty without thinking through your options, you may have missed an opportunity to protect your record and your future.

Why it is important to talk to a lawyer before pleading guilty to a DUI

An experienced DUI attorney in Pennsylvania might help you to avoid having a conviction for a DUI on your record. When you meet with your attorney at DiCindio Law, your lawyer will analyze the evidence and the police reports to identify the defenses that might be available to you. Prosecutors are required to prove their cases beyond a reasonable doubt. If problems occurred during the investigation of your case, your defense attorney might use them to defend against your charges. If the evidence in your case is strong, your attorney might negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor. This can help you to secure reduced charges and lesser penalties.

If you have been charged with a DUI, you should talk to an attorney at DiCindio Law as soon as possible. A lawyer might secure a better outcome for your case. Contact us today to schedule a consultation by submitting your information with our contact form or by calling us at (610) 430-3535.

What are the different types of DUI offenses?

Many people are charged with driving under the influence in Pennsylvania each year. Commonly, people who are charged with DUI offenses do not have previous experience with the criminal justice system or any previous criminal records. There are multiple types of DUI charges in Pennsylvania that are based on the circumstances surrounding the offense. In some cases, a person will be charged with several DUI offenses based on a single incident. If you have been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the legal team at DiCindio Law can explain your charges and the legal options that you have. Here is an explanation of the different types of DUI offenses under Pennsylvania law.

General Impairment DUI

A general impairment DUI may be charged when you have drunk any amount of alcohol if it impairs your driving ability under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802(a)(1). This means that you may be charged with a DUI when your blood alcohol concentration is lower than 0.08% if it was enough alcohol to impair you. The second type of general impairment DUI offense may be charged when you submit a chemical test that shows your BAC falls in a range of 0.08% to 0.99%. This is a per se general impairment DUI offense that may be charged if your BAC falls in that range within two hours of when you were driving. A general impairment DUI offense is an ungraded misdemeanor.

If you are convicted of a first general impairment DUI offense, you will face the following penalties:

  • $300 fine
  • Probation for up to six months
  • Treatment if ordered
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • High BAC DUI

Under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802(b), you may be charged with a high BAC DUI if your blood alcohol concentration test results fall between 0.10% and 0.159% within two hours of when you were driving. Pennsylvania has a three-tier system for DUI offenses based on the BAC level of the driver. A high BAC DUI is the middle tier and is an ungraded misdemeanor. If you are convicted of this offense, you will face the following penalties:

  • Suspension of your license for 12 months
  • 48 hours up to six months in prison
  • Fine of $500 up to $5,000
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • Treatment may be ordered
  • Highest BAC DUI

The highest tier DUI offense is found in 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802(c). Under this subsection, you may be charged with the highest BAC DUI offense if your blood alcohol concentration tests at 0.16% or higher within two hours of when you last drove. The penalties for a first offense highest BAC DUI are as follows:

  • 72 hours up to six months in prison
  • Fine of $1,000 to $5,000
  • 12-month suspension of your license
  • Treatment if ordered
  • Alcohol highway safety school

The highest BAC DUI offense is an ungraded misdemeanor in Pennsylvania.

DUI – Controlled Substances

Under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802(d), you can be charged with driving under the influence of controlled substances in any of the following scenarios:

  • You test positive for any amount of a Schedule I drug.
  • You test positive for any amount of a Schedule II or Schedule III drug that has not been prescribed to you.
  • You test positive for metabolites of any Schedule I, II, or III drugs within two hours of driving.

Unlike alcohol, there is no threshold for the amount of controlled substances in your blood for purposes of a DUI. If you are charged with a DUI for controlled substances, you will face the same penalties as the highest BAC DUI even if the substances do not impair you to a high degree.

Baby DUI

If you are younger than age 21, you may be charged with a minor DUI if your BAC results are 0.02% or higher within two hours of driving under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802(e). This is equivalent to drinking one beer. If you are convicted of a minor DUI, you will face the following penalties:

  • Fine of $500 to $5,000
  • Jail from 48 hours up to six months
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for 12 months
  • Drug and alcohol evaluation with treatment if ordered
  • DUI victim impact panel
  • Judge can order up to 150 hours of community service
  • Alcohol highway traffic safety school

Commercial or school bus driver DUI

Under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802(f), a commercial vehicle or school bus driver may be charged with a DUI offense even though their BAC levels might be much lower than the state threshold of 0.08%. A commercial vehicle driver can be charged with this type of DUI if he or she has a BAC of 0.04% or higher within two hours of driving. A school bus driver can be charged with a DUI if his or her BAC tests at 0.02% or higher within two hours of driving. If you are convicted of a first CDL DUI, you will face the following penalties:

  • 12 month suspension of your driver’s license
  • 48 hours up to six months in jail
  • Fine of $500 to $5,000
  • Treatment if ordered
  • Alcohol highway safety school

Get help from an experienced DUI attorney

Regardless of which type of DUI offense you have been charged with, getting help from an experienced DUI defense attorney as quickly as possible is important. An attorney can review the evidence and police reports to identify the defenses that might be raised. Your lawyer can explain the options that you might have and work to secure the most favorable resolution possible. Contact DiCindio Law today by filling out our contact form or calling us at 610.430.3535.

What happens when you drive under the influence of drugs?

What are the different types of DUI offenses?

Many people are charged with driving under the influence in Pennsylvania each year. Commonly, people who are charged with DUI offenses do not have previous experience with the criminal justice system or any previous criminal records. There are multiple types of DUI charges in Pennsylvania that are based on the circumstances surrounding the offense. In some cases, a person will be charged with several DUI offenses based on a single incident. If you have been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the legal team at DiCindio Law can explain your charges and the legal options that you have. Here is an explanation of the different types of DUI offenses under Pennsylvania law.

General impairment DUI

A general impairment DUI may be charged when you have drunk any amount of alcohol if it impairs your driving ability under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802(a)(1). This means that you may be charged with a DUI when your blood alcohol concentration is lower than 0.08% if it was enough alcohol to impair you. The second type of general impairment DUI offense may be charged when you submit a chemical test that shows your BAC falls in a range of 0.08% to 0.99%. This is a per se general impairment DUI offense that may be charged if your BAC falls in that range within two hours of when you were driving. A general impairment DUI offense is an ungraded misdemeanor.

If you are convicted of a first general impairment DUI offense, you will face the following penalties:

  • $300 fine
  • Probation for up to six months
  • Treatment if ordered
  • Alcohol highway safety school

High BAC DUI

Under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802(b), you may be charged with a high BAC DUI if your blood alcohol concentration test results fall between 0.10% and 0.159% within two hours of when you were driving. Pennsylvania has a three-tier system for DUI offenses based on the BAC level of the driver. A high BAC DUI is the middle tier and is an ungraded misdemeanor. If you are convicted of this offense, you will face the following penalties:

  • Suspension of your license for 12 months
  • 48 hours up to six months in prison
  • Fine of $500 up to $5,000
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • Treatment may be ordered

Highest BAC DUI

The highest tier DUI offense is found in 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802(c). Under this subsection, you may be charged with the highest BAC DUI offense if your blood alcohol concentration tests at 0.16% or higher within two hours of when you last drove. The penalties for a first offense highest BAC DUI are as follows:

  • 72 hours up to six months in prison
  • Fine of $1,000 to $5,000
  • 12-month suspension of your license
  • Treatment if ordered
  • Alcohol highway safety school

The highest BAC DUI offense is an ungraded misdemeanor in Pennsylvania.

DUI – controlled substances

Under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802(d), you can be charged with driving under the influence of controlled substances in any of the following scenarios:

  • You test positive for any amount of a Schedule I drug.
  • You test positive for any amount of a Schedule II or Schedule III drug that has not been prescribed to you.
  • You test positive for metabolites of any Schedule I, II, or III drugs within two hours of driving.

Unlike alcohol, there is no threshold for the amount of controlled substances in your blood for purposes of a DUI. If you are charged with a DUI for controlled substances, you will face the same penalties as the highest BAC DUI even if the substances do not impair you to a high degree.

Baby DUI

If you are younger than age 21, you may be charged with a minor DUI if your BAC results are 0.02% or higher within two hours of driving under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802(e). This is equivalent to drinking one beer. If you are convicted of a minor DUI, you will face the following penalties:

  • Fine of $500 to $5,000
  • Jail from 48 hours up to six months
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for 12 months
  • Drug and alcohol evaluation with treatment if ordered
  • DUI victim impact panel
  • Judge can order up to 150 hours of community service
  • Alcohol highway traffic safety school

Commercial or school bus driver DUI

Under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802(f), a commercial vehicle or school bus driver may be charged with a DUI offense even though their BAC levels might be much lower than the state threshold of 0.08%. A commercial vehicle driver can be charged with this type of DUI if he or she has a BAC of 0.04% or higher within two hours of driving. A school bus driver can be charged with a DUI if his or her BAC tests at 0.02% or higher within two hours of driving. If you are convicted of a first CDL DUI, you will face the following penalties:

  • 12 month suspension of your driver’s license
  • 48 hours up to six months in jail
  • Fine of $500 to $5,000
  • Treatment if ordered
  • Alcohol highway safety school

Get help from an experienced DUI attorney

Regardless of which type of DUI offense you have been charged with, getting help from an experienced DUI defense attorney as quickly as possible is important. An attorney can review the evidence and police reports to identify the defenses that might be raised. Your lawyer can explain the options that you might have and work to secure the most favorable resolution possible. Contact DiCindio Law today by filling out our contact form or calling us at 610.430.3535.

10 Things You Need To Know About DUI in PA

Driving drunk or under the influence of drugs can result in serious consequences, from expensive fines to losing your license. It is important to be educated on what to expect if you are charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI). Here are the top 10 things you need to know about a DUI in Pennsylvania.

1. You should know the basics of the DUI Process

The DUI process usually starts with being pulled over by a police officer. Usually, the officer notices that you are swerving or otherwise driving erratically and has reasonable suspicion to assume that you may be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The officer then assesses the situation with a field test and may demand that you take a chemical test. There are two types of chemical tests: a blood draw at the hospital and a breath test using a breathalyzer.

Sometimes, people think that if they refuse the chemical test that there is no way to prove that they were under the influence. This is a common misconception, because not only is it likely that you will still lose your license, but refusing the test could potentially add an additional year to the loss of your license. There are several ways a police officer can still prove guilt without the test, such as their observation of your appearance at the time. Police often use terms like “bloodshot eyes,” “odor on the breath” and “slurred speech” which can help prove that you were not capable of safely driving.

Driving under the influence isn’t always just alcohol or illegal drugs, but it can also refer to other substances that have the ability to impair your driving abilities, such as legal prescription drugs or even over-the-counter medications.

2. Pennsylvania has mandatory jail sentences

Pennsylvania has mandatory jail sentences for those who are convicted of a DUI, even if it is a first offense. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to jail. There are alternative programs in place that may allow for lesser sentences, such as: Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) and Intermediate Punishment Program (IPP).

In Pennsylvania, a DUI charge is rated under different tiers and they are based on the chemical test results:

  • Tier 1: BAC .08% – .99%
  • Tier 2: .10-.159%
  • Tier 3: over .160% or if the person has drugs in his or her system or refuses chemical testing

The more alcohol a person has in their system, the more severe of a penalty it is. It is even more severe if there is more than one DUI in a 10 year period.

3. You need an attorney

It doesn’t matter if it is your first DUI offense, it is extremely important to have an attorney because a DUI is a criminal offense. If convicted, a DUI will stay on your record without the possibility for expungement. However, a lawyer may be able to get you into an alternative program such as Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD). This program is specifically for first time offenders.

  • Potential benefits of ARD
  • No jail time
  • Reduced license suspension
  • Ability to have the arrest record expunged

Admittance into the program is at the sole discretion of the District Attorney’s office. With an experienced attorney by your side, you can rest assured that he or she will negotiate your application on your behalf.

An attorney can also evaluate the circumstances surrounding your arrest and determine whether any constitutional rights were violated. Just because someone is charged with a DUI does not necessarily mean that the person is guilty of a DUI. A skilled attorney will review the police report and any lab results to look for any deficiencies or inconsistencies with what has been presented in the charges.

Make sure the attorney that you choose specializes in DUIs. It is important to choose someone who is local and understands Pennsylvania DUI laws, which are different than other states.

If you are low-income and unable to afford a private lawyer, you may meet the requirements to have a public defender assigned to you. Public defenders are usually experienced in DUI cases, but they also have large caseloads.

4. You will have to appear in court

After your initial DUI arrest, you will have to appear in court on a specified date and time. It can be a humiliating experience to have to appear in court with the public in attendance. The charges will be read to you and you will have to plead guilty or not guilty. It is important to have an attorney representing you in court.

5. Your license will most likely be suspended

Almost all DUI convictions result in a license suspension for some period of time. However, if it’s a first time offense within a 10-year period AND the BAC level was at or below .099%, then there is no license suspension.

6. There may be options for a limited license, even with a suspended license

In some cases, you may be eligible to apply for an Occupational Limited License (OLL), also referred to as the bread and butter license in Pennsylvania. This license allows you to drive under certain conditions, like going to and from work.

7. You will pay a hefty fine

Every DUI conviction will result in court fees and penalties. Fines for a DUI in Pennsylvania could range anywhere from $500 to $5,000 depending on the circumstances. The cost is more expensive for multiple offenses.

8. You may be able to settle your case before trial.

In reality, most DUI cases never make it to trial and that is because they often take a deal offered by the prosecutor. Many times these deals include pleading guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence. Additionally, your attorney may find loopholes in the case that could cause the charges to get thrown out completely.

9. You may have to go to drunk driving school

In order to get your driving abilities reinstated, you may required to go to drunk driving school. These classes educate you about drunk driving prevention and offer an assessment of your drinking habits.

10. Your car insurance rates will likely be raised

When you are convicted of a DUI, your insurance company will eventually find out that information. Drunk drivers are at a huge risk to insurance companies, so you will be given a special policy with inflated rates for a certain period of time. Many times these rates are double or triple the cost of a normal premium.

When you retain an experienced criminal defense attorney from DiCindio Law, you might be able to secure a more favorable disposition to the charges against you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation by calling 610.430.3535 or by submitting your information through our online contact form.

Get The Facts About Your Third Offense DUI

If you are facing charges for a third DUI offense in Pennsylvania, you likely have an idea of what you are facing. After being charged with two prior DUIs, you understand how strict the DUI laws in Pennsylvania are and are probably concerned about the penalties that you might face. If you are facing a third DUI charge, it is crucial to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney. The DUI defense lawyer at DiCindio Law is a former prosecutor who understands how the state prosecutes DUI cases, allowing him to anticipate the arguments that might be made so that he can build a strong defense against the charges you are facing.

The penalties for a third DUI offense in Pennsylvania will depend on several factors, including your blood alcohol content when you were arrested and whether other aggravating factors exist. The punishment for a third DUI conviction in Pennsylvania can include substantial fines and from months to years in prison.

The penalties become more severe each time that a driver is convicted of driving under the influence. When you have prior convictions, you should fight your DUI charge. Michael DiCindio at DiCindio Law understands what you are facing and will work to build the strongest defense case possible to fight your charges.

What are the penalties for a third DUI conviction?

In Pennsylvania, the penalties for driving while impaired are based on a combination of the blood alcohol concentration of the driver and whether he or she has any prior DUI convictions.

If you have two prior convictions and were arrested with a BAC between 0.08% and 0.099% for your third offense, you will face the following penalties:

  • Mandatory minimum of 10 days up to a maximum of two years in jail
  • 12-month suspension of your driver’s license
  • Fine ranging from a minimum of $500 up to $5,000
  • 12-month installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle
  • The court may require you to complete a court-ordered treatment program

If you have been charged with a third DUI offense and had a BAC ranging from 0.10% to 0.159%, you will face the following penalties:

  • Mandatory minimum 90 days up to five years in jail
  • 18-month suspension of your driver’s license
  • Fine ranging from a minimum of $1,500 up to $10,000
  • 12-month installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle
  • The court can require you to complete a court-ordered treatment program

If you are facing a third DUI offense and had a BAC of 0.160% or higher, you will face the following penalties if you are convicted:

  • Mandatory minimum of one year up to five years in prison
  • Mandatory minimum fine of $2,500 up to $10,000
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle for one year
  • The court can require you to complete a treatment program
  • Collateral consequences of a third DUI conviction

Even after you have discharged your sentence, a third DUI conviction can cause consequences in other areas of your life. You will likely face higher rates for your automobile insurance. Your insurance provider might choose to drop your coverage because of your risky driving behavior.

A third DUI conviction will add to your criminal record, which can make it more difficult to find a new job. Your employer might also terminate you from your current job. If you have children and share them with your former spouse or partner, you could lose some of your custodial rights after a third DUI conviction.

In Pennsylvania, the court will take the last 10 years into account to determine whether you are facing a third or subsequent drunk driving charge.

What to do after you have been charged

If you have been arrested for a third DUI offense, the first step that you should take is to retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer. An attorney can begin building your defense before you attend your first hearing. Getting help early provides your lawyer with more time to investigate your case so that he or she can identify potential defenses that might be raised.

When you have several prior DUI convictions on your record, your need for an experienced attorney is even higher. You will want to find an attorney who understands how to negotiate with the prosecuting attorney for you. Before your first hearing, your defense lawyer can assess the circumstances that surrounded your previous DUI convictions, find out about the evidence that the state has against you, and start building your case based on the evidence.

After you have been released from jail, the court will mail a copy of the criminal complaint to you. You need to save this document and take it to your lawyer so that he or she can see the specific charges that you are facing.

The preliminary hearing is the first court appearance that you will have. It is a critical hearing because you will be presented with the options of negotiating a plea or taking your case to trial. Your lawyer can help you to understand your choices and advise you about the steps that you should take to obtain the best outcome.

Potential defenses

If you decide against trying to negotiate a plea offer and to take your case to a trial, your lawyer might raise several different defenses on your behalf. The defenses that might be available to you will depend on the circumstances. Some of the potential defenses that might be raised include the following:

  • The stop of your vehicle was not supported by probable cause.
  • The office did not have probable cause to ask you to submit to a DUI test.
  • There were problems with how the chemical test was administered.
  • The equipment was not properly calibrated.

If an officer stopped your vehicle without reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe that you had committed or were committing an offense, your attorney may file a motion asking the court to suppress the evidence against you. If this motion is granted, your charges may be dismissed.

Contact DiCindio Law

Facing a third DUI offense can be scary. When you retain an experienced criminal defense attorney from DiCindio Law, you might be able to secure a more favorable disposition to the charges against you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation by calling 610.430.3535 or by submitting your information through our online contact form.