What Happens if I am Convicted of Multiple DUIs?

While Driving Under the Influence (“DUI”) convictions are based upon state law, typically, persons convicted of multiple DUIs need to know the possible penalties and situations that could increase the punishment. For the most part, multiple DUI convictions within a specific time period can increase fines, possible jail time, and driving restrictions. If you are concerned about a conviction of multiple DUIs, it is a good idea to learn more about the possible repercussions so that you can take action now.

Multiple DUI Convictions – The Basics

The penalties attached to a DUI will depend on the state in which you are charged with the DUI. However, for many states, if it is a second or third DUI, then DUI convictions from other states may count.

The reason why this becomes important is that having multiple DUI convictions can significantly impact the severity of the charge you receive for the subsequent DUI. In other words, if you have one DUI conviction on your record, then it is important to understand that a second or third DUI is likely going to result in a more serious charge than the first.

Additionally, you will likely have increased penalties if you are convicted of a subsequent DUI. These penalties could include mandatory minimum jail time as well as increased restrictions on your driving privileges. In some instances, you may have your driver’s license permanently suspended. Moreover, the fines will likely be higher. Additionally, if you have your license revoked, you may have increased restrictions and be forced to install breathalyzer equipment into your car. All of this can add up to a very costly situation.

Circumstances That Impact the Severity of the Charge for a Subsequent DUI Conviction

Having a prior DUI typically means you will be charged with a greater offense than your first DUI conviction should you be charged with a second or third DUI. While it depends on state law, there are some factors to generally be aware of when it comes to multiple DUI convictions.

Look Back Period for Purposes of Determining How Many Convictions Are Counted For the Offense Brought for the Subsequent DUI(s)

One issue to consider with multiple DUI convictions is when your last DUI occurred and how much time has passed. For instance, Pennsylvania law will look back ten years to determine the number of DUI convictions when it comes to deciding what charge to bring against you for a subsequent DUI.

This means that if you had a DUI conviction more than ten years ago and you are now facing charges of another DUI, then it is possible that you will not have a charge brought against you for multiple DUI(s) because of the amount of time that has passed. Thus, you would be only facing a first offense DUI (in the ten year look-back).

However, if it has been less than ten years or there were other extenuating circumstances, then you may still face an increased charge for multiple DUIs with a subsequent DUI conviction.

Additional Factors to Consider with Multiple DUI Convictions

In addition to the look-back period for purposes of counting DUI convictions when bringing charges, other factors can enhance the severity of the offense. These include multiple DUI convictions and the severity of the penalties. Again, this is state-specific.

However, some common factors that may enhance the severity of the charge and punishment include:

  • The blood alcohol content (“BAC”) level you had when you were charged with one or more of the DUIs
  • Whether anyone was injured because of your DUI
  • Property damage occurred as part of any DUIs
  • Past criminal history record
  • Refusal to submit to a sobriety test
  • Passengers in the car at the time of the incidents, especially when it includes minor children.

 

Depending on the applicable state law, these extenuating factors may further enhance the severity of any charges and penalties brought on by multiple DUI convictions.

Whether Other State DUI Convictions Are Considered

If you received DUI convictions in different states, then you should be aware of whether the state in which you are charged with a later DUI conviction will consider the prior DUI conviction that occurred in the other state. Typically, the previous conviction is considered, even if it happened in another state. As such, there will likely be an enhanced charge with more severe penalties should these DUIs occur within a specific amount of time.

Why Contacting a DUI Attorney is Wise

If you want to learn more about the facts that impact your situation, it is wise to contact a DUI attorney about your case. Given that DUI laws are complicated and are state law specific when multiple states are at play, consulting with an attorney is a good idea if you are not otherwise familiar with this area of law. Additionally, an attorney may help you navigate through the system to obtain a more favorable outcome.

Consequences of Multiple DUI Convictions

The severity of the consequences will depend on the state in which you received the DUI convictions. Extenuating circumstances, such as harm or injury caused to a person or property during the incident and the amount of time that passed between the multiple DUI convictions, will also play a role in the decision.

The penalties may be lessened depending on the applicable state’s laws and whether you have potential defenses or mitigating factors. Additionally, if there has been a greater period of time in between DUI convictions, then for many states, this may result in a lesser charge. On the flip side, driving under a suspended license and multiple DUIs within a short period of time could enhance the charges brought against you.

Programs completed after a DUI conviction such as drug and alcohol abuse treatment may help lessen the severity of consequences that you may face for later DUI convictions. Additionally, a good DUI attorney may be able to negotiate the charge down to one that does not result in the more severe offense of multiple DUI convictions.

Multiple DUI Convictions Are a Serious Offense

If you have been charged with multiple DUI convictions, you should expect to face enhanced penalties and a more severe charge. These penalties may mean increased jail time, higher fines, enhanced or permanent driving restrictions, and equipment installed on your car. These are only some examples. It will depend on the state in which you are charged for each of the convictions.

If it is your second DUI conviction, then penalties are typically not as severe as for the third DUI conviction. For either a second or a third DUI conviction, it is crucial to know that if you are charged with a subsequent DUI when your license is restricted due to a prior DUI conviction, then you are likely facing even more severe penalties and charges. You could very well lose your driving privileges entirely and face increased jail time.

If You or Someone You Know is Facing Multiple DUI Convictions, Contact an Attorney Today

Since DUI laws are complicated and multiple DUI convictions carry severe consequences, it is wise to obtain advice from a DUI attorney that specializes in this area of law. Many issues come into play when it comes to the severity of the charge and penalties that someone may face should they receive multiple DUI convictions.

An attorney who specializes in DUI law can help navigate through the relevant facts and provide you with a better understanding of the charges and penalties you may be facing, as well as whether there are any possibilities for obtaining a lesser sentence.

To discuss the facts of your case, fill out our contact form. We will get back to you as soon as possible to learn more about your case and discuss what help we may be able to provide.

What You Need To Know About A Second Offense DUI

What You Need To Know About A Second Offense DUI

A second DUI offense in Pennsylvania is a very serious offense that carries hefty penalties. It has higher mandatory jail time, longer driver suspension, and higher fines than a first-time DUI conviction.

To help you understand a bit more about these charges, here is what you need to know about a second offense DUI.

Second Offense DUI Overview

While drunk driving is a criminal charge in all states, each state has its own DUI laws and penalties. Some states have higher penalties and mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment. Defenses available also can vary depending on the state of the DUI charges.

Repeat Offenders

The cost of a second DUI offense is typically higher than a first DUI offense due to steeper fines, higher attorney’s costs (typically), license suspension for longer periods of time and sometimes mandatory minimum periods of time, car insurance premium increases, possible lost wages from missed work if imprisoned, costs for court-ordered drug treatment programs, etc.

The laws are more complex for a second offense DUI. Also, a second DUI offense may result in a felony conviction depending on the facts of the case and the state where it occurred.

Given the increased risk of what is at stake for a second DUI offense, hiring a DUI attorney is suggested when facing a second offense DUI. A DUI attorney can help build a case by utilizing any available defenses, potentially negotiate a lesser charge in exchange for a guilty plea, assist with trial proceedings, and argue for a less severe sentence if the case goes to trial and you are convicted of the charges.

 

Costs of a DUI Offense

Fines and the cost of legal representation are higher for second offense DUIs. Penalties imposed if found guilty are also higher. However, these are not the only costs that can come from a DUI charge.

Other Costs of a DUI Offense

The cost of a DUI conviction includes the sentence imposed by the court, which can include steep fines. Additionally, other fines may result from related civil cases for car accidents or injury to another person, fees resulting from a suspension of driving privileges, and increased car insurance premiums.

DUI convictions are public and this may make future employment difficult. Additionally, driver license restrictions and jail time may lead to lost wages from missed work. You may also be responsible for the costs of mandated drug treatment programs and driving classes.

The average total cost of a first-time DUI offense is estimated at around $6,500 according to a study by Martindale-Nolo. Source: https://www.lawyers.com/legal-info/criminal/dui-dwi/first-offense-dui.html. The total cost can increase substantially for second offense DUIs.

Second Offenses and Prior Convictions

If this charge or your first offense was due to you driving under the influence of a controlled substance instead of drunk driving, both are DUI charges and both will count for purposes of being charged for a second offense DUI instead of a first-time DUI offense. Additionally, a prior DUI charge that was expunged through successful completion of the ARD program will also be counted as a prior DUI conviction.

Moreover, this second DUI charge may violate the terms you agreed to with your first offense. For example, if you agreed to a plea bargain for a lesser sentence with the first offense, but violated the terms of your parole through the events that led to the second DUI charge, you may now have your first offense revisited or higher penalties imposed.

You may also face increased jail time if some of your jail time imposed by the court for the first offense was suspended jail time. A second conviction may lead to you having to serve any jail time that was suspended for the first conviction in addition to jail time imposed for the second offense.

Pennsylvania Laws and Penalties for a Second DUI Offense

Pennsylvania has a ten-year look-back period for DUIs. If you are being charged with a DUI and have a prior DUI conviction that occurred within the past ten years, then this is a second offense DUI. Second offense DUIs have mandatory jail time and license suspension.

The penalties you face for a second DUI conviction will depend on the individual facts of your case. As a starting point, know that Pennsylvania imposes penalties for DUI convictions based on three ranges for a person’s BAC. The tiers include the following BAC ranges:

  • First tier: 0.08%-0.099%
  • Second tier: 0.10%-0.159%
  • Third tier: 0.16% and higher, and includes persons that refuse to submit to a BAC test.

The penalties are more severe for higher tiers. Additionally, the following factors can result in more severe penalties:

  • Injuries to another person
  • Property damage from a car accident
  • Driving drunk and under 21 years of age
  • Prior DUI convictions

Pennsylvania’s penalties for a second offense DUI range from 5 days to 5 years in prison time, $500-$10,000 in fines, and a 12-18 month suspension of driver’s license.

The BAC you had at the time of arrest will determine the minimum penalty range. For example, if there was no injury to another person or property damage, the driver was at least 21 years old, and the driver had a BAC of 0.08%-0.099%, then the penalties for a conviction of a second offense DUI in Pennsylvania are; five days to six months of imprisonment, license suspension for 12 months, and fines between $300-$1,500. The penalties go up when there are aggravating factors and for BACs in higher tiers of intoxication.

What You Can Do if Charged with a Second DUI Offense

Here are a few steps to consider if you have been charged with a second DUI offense in the state of Pennsylvania:

  • Contact an experienced DUI attorney to discuss the facts of your case and learn more about potential defenses and whether they can assist you through representation.
  • Try to recall all facts as soon as possible around the time of arrest to provide a DUI attorney that you contact with pertinent information that they may use to establish defenses for your charges.
  • Research the options you have for representation. You can represent yourself or obtain legal representation from a public defender or by hiring a private attorney.
  • Gather all documentation for both your first DUI offense and your second offense DUI.

Given the severity of a second offense DUI in Pennsylvania, you should at least contact a DUI attorney for an initial consultation. The cost of representation by an experienced DUI attorney is likely much lower than the potential costs you may face if convicted of a second DUI offense without good representation by a seasoned professional to help get you the best outcome.

Need Help with a Second DUI Offense? Contact an Attorney Now

If you have been charged with a second DUI offense contact Mike DiCindio, Esq. today to learn how we can help. Fill out our contact form with your name, email, phone number, and any other information you would like us to know. Someone will call you back to chat about your case.

Do You Need A Drunk Driving Attorney?

If you are facing DUI charges, then you need to consider whether you want to represent yourself or obtain legal representation. While you can represent yourself in court as a right, you also have a right to representation by a public defender appointed to you by the court. Then there is the option of obtaining legal help from a private practice attorney. Consider some of the information outlined below to help you assess whether you need a drunk driving attorney.

The Difference Between Representation by a Public Defender and Hiring a Private Attorney

 

Public Defender

If you cannot afford your own counsel, then you have right to an attorney appointed by the court. Court-appointed attorneys are usually from the public defender’s office, but they also include private attorneys selected from a panel. You cannot change court-appointed attorneys once one is assigned to you.

Public defenders and court-appointed attorneys often have very large caseloads. This may lead to feelings that your case is not being given much attention, which can be true in instances of attorneys being too busy. It is a downside with not being able to pick the attorney yourself.

An upside is that public defenders only work in criminal court. As such, they are likely very familiar with DUI laws and defenses, as well as local court procedures. They also may have built relationships through working with the state prosecution and the court in prior matters. This can be helpful to someone that is unfamiliar with the law.

DUI laws are complicated and it is difficult for someone to know what defenses may be available to them if they are not already familiar with this area of law. Also, a DUI lawyer that knows the local district attorneys and judges may know their patterns and have an advantage in negotiating more favorable terms through a plea bargain or at sentencing.

Administrative Per Se Hearings

If you have other proceedings that are not in criminal court such as proceedings with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), then a public defender will likely not help you with those. A public defenders’ representation is limited to cover the criminal court proceedings. Most DUI charges also result in DMV proceedings as well.

In most states, the DMV can suspend your license following DUI charges, even before you are convicted. If this happens, then you usually need to request an administrative per se hearing to have your license suspension revoked pending the outcome of your case for the DUI at court. If you are concerned about representing yourself for this, then you may want legal representation from a private attorney that can assist with both.

Private Attorneys

Usually if you hire a private drunk driving attorney, then you hire that attorney for the criminal DUI charges as well as any civil proceedings, such as administrative per se hearings. Private attorneys may cost $1,000-$5,000 or more. However, if you can afford this, then it may be worth it and may save you substantially with lower fines and a lesser sentence.

Some other benefits of seeking representation from a private drunk driving attorney include finding an attorney of your choosing and being able to pick one that specializes in DUI law. This can make a big difference in plea bargains and sentencing, especially if there are any potential defenses or mitigating factors.

Moreover, even though public defenders or court-appointed attorneys likely have experience with DUI law, a benefit in hiring a private attorney is that you can obtain representation from an attorney that specializes in DUI law. This can be important for when your case may contain nuances. However, if you are unfamiliar with the law, then obtaining advice from an attorney is a good starting point to understand what possible defenses you may have.

Cases Where You May Not Need an Attorney

If this is your first DUI offense, there were no injuries, and there is strong evidence to prove that you were intoxicated such as a very high blood alcohol content level (BAC) over 0.08%, a field failed sobriety test, witnesses that can attest to you driving unsteadily, or officer testimony that you were acting intoxicated (e.g., slurring speech, smell of alcohol on your breath, poor motor skills, etc.), then you may get the standard sentence from the court regardless of whether you have representation.

Obtaining Legal Representation

 

Plea Bargaining and Sentencing

An experienced DUI attorney may be able to help with plea bargaining, trial, and sentencing. During plea bargaining, some attorneys can negotiate for a guilty plea with a conviction of a lesser offense. This may be good if the outcome of going to trial will likely be that you are convicted guilty.

An attorney can also help at trial if there are any areas that the state prosecution must prove that can be questioned, such as the BAC level, the reason you were pulled over, etc.

Moreover, if you go to trial and you are found guilty, an attorney may be able to negotiate with the judge a more favorable sentence. This will depend on the facts of your case and the applicable state law. That is why it is a good idea to contact a lawyer to understand your options.

Obtain a Consultation

Most DUI attorneys offer a free consultation and so it is worth it to seek out one of these if there is any doubt that you will likely be convicted based on the facts of your case. You also should consider one if there are aggravating factors because you may face a higher sentence. An experienced DUI attorney could help negotiate a lower one if that is the case.

Obtaining advice or a free consultation from a drunk driving attorney can help you better understand what defenses you may have or if there are aggravating factors that could potentially lead to a much higher charge, such as possession of controlled substances, driving over a certain speed, etc. This depends on the state law and an experienced drunk driving attorney can help you get an idea of what your situation is like under the laws of your state.

You do not have to hire an attorney if you simply meet with them for a free consultation. If you decide you want to hire an attorney after a consultation, you are free to first meet other attorneys experienced in DUI law before making this decision.

Questions? Contact an Attorney

If you are not represented by a public defender and are considering a plea deal that has already been offered to you, it is also wise to first get the opinion of an attorney. You can choose not to hire them, but at a minimum you should consult a local drunk driving attorney for a better understanding of possible defenses.

Some attorneys may charge a small fee for a consultation but that consultation may help give you a better understanding of your case. Additionally, evaluations may be offered for a smaller fee than full representation. This can help you with advice on how to proceed with the expert knowledge from someone experienced in this area of law.

Conclusion

If you or someone you know is facing potential DUI charges and are wondering if you need legal help, fill out our contact form to include your information and we will get back to you to discuss your options.

What are the Penalties for DUI in Pennsylvania?

Drunk and drugged driving continues to be a problem in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. In 2017, the Pennsylvania DUI Association reports that there were 10,346 crashes involving alcohol in the state. While alcohol was involved in 8% of accidents in the state, 26% of the fatal crashes involved the use of alcohol. Because of the potential harm that can be caused to others, Pennsylvania has enacted a number of DUI laws that you should know. If you have been charged with a DUI in West Chester or the surrounding area, getting experienced legal help from DiCindio Law may help you to protect your freedom and your rights. Here is some information about the DUI laws in Pennsylvania.

2003 Act 24

In 2003, the Pennsylvania legislature passed Act 24, which was subsequently signed into law by the governor. This law reduced the legal blood alcohol concentration in the state from 0.10% to 0.08% and created DUI offense levels. It also changed the penalties, fines, suspension terms, and other requirements. Under this law, your prior offenses and your BAC are combined to determine the penalties that you might face. First-time offenders are approached with more treatment instead of simply license suspension and punishment.

The three DUI tiers are now as follows:

  • General level of impairment with BACs from 0.08% to 0.099%
  • High BAC with BACs from 0.10% to 0.159%
  • Highest BAC with BACs of 0.16% or higher

Commercial truck and school bus drivers, minors, and people who cause accidents with injuries or property damage may face the high BAC penalties even when their blood alcohol concentration level is below the range. People who refuse to submit to the breath or blood testing may face the penalties for the highest BAC tier.

The penalties for general impairment DUI offenses differ and depend on any prior DUI convictions. If you have no prior offenses and are convicted of a general impairment DUI, you will face the following penalties:

  • Fine of $300
  • Probation for up to 180 days
  • Mandatory attendance in an alcohol safety course
  • Treatment may be ordered

If you have one previous DUI conviction at the general impairment level, you will face the following penalties:

  • 12-month suspension of your license
  • Fine ranging from $300 to $2,500
  • Jail from five days up to six months
  • Installation of an ignition interlock system for one year
  • Alcohol safety course attendance
  • Treatment may be ordered

If you are convicted of a general impairment DUI and have two or more previous convictions, it will be classified as a second-degree misdemeanor. You will face the following penalties:

  • Incarceration ranging from 10 days up to two years
  • 12-month suspension of your license
  • Fine ranging from $500 up to $5,000
  • Treatment may be ordered
  • 12-month installation of an ignition interlock system

For people who have higher blood alcohol concentration levels, you will face greater penalties. If you are convicted of a high BAC DUI and do not have any previous DUI offenses, you will face the following penalties:

  • Incarceration ranging from 48 hours up to six months
  • Suspension of your license for 12 months
  • Fine ranging from $500 up to $5,000
  • Alcohol safety course
  • Treatment may be ordered

If you are convicted of a high BAC DUI with one previous offense, you will face the following penalties:

  • 30 days up to six months of jail
  • 12-month suspension of your license
  • Fine ranging from $750 up to $5,000
  • Alcohol safety school
  • Treatment may be ordered
  • One-year installation of an ignition interlock system

If you are convicted of a high BAC DUI with two or more previous convictions, you will face the following penalties:

  • First-degree misdemeanor
  • Suspension of your license for 18 months
  • Incarceration ranging from 90 days up to five years
  • Fine ranging from $1,500 up to $10,000
  • Treatment may be ordered
  • One year ignition interlock installation

The highest BAC level carries strict penalties, but treatment is allowed. This category is also used for people who are convicted of driving while under the influence of drugs and for those who refuse the breath or chemical tests.

For the highest BAC level with no prior offenses, you will face the following penalties:

  • Jail time from 72 hours to six months
  • 12-month suspension of your license
  • Fine of $1,000 to $5,000
  • Treatment may be ordered
  • Alcohol highway safety school

If you have one prior offense and are convicted of a highest BAC DUI, you will face the following penalties:

  • First-degree misdemeanor
  • 18 month suspension of your license
  • Incarceration of 90 days up to five years
  • Fine of $1,500 to $10,000
  • Treatment may be ordered
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • One-year ignition interlock installation

A highest BAC conviction when you have two or more prior convictions will subject you to the following penalties:

  • First-degree misdemeanor
  • 18-month suspension of your license
  • One to five years of incarceration
  • Fine of $2,500 to $10,000
  • treatment may be ordered
  • One-year ignition interlock installation

Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition or ARD

Under the law, courts must impose license suspensions based on the person’s BAC level as follows:

  • No suspension if under 0.10%
  • 30-day suspension from 0.10% to under 0.16%
  • 60-day suspension for 0.16% and higher

License suspensions

If it is your first offense and your BAC was less than 0.10%, you will not receive a license suspension. If it is your second or subsequent general impairment offense, your license will be suspended for 12 months. If your BAC is less than 0.16% but equal to or greater than 0.10%, your license will be suspended for 12 months for the first or second offense and for 18 months for the third offense. The highest BAC level will give you a 12 month suspension for the first offense an an 18-month suspension for any subsequent convictions.

Exemptions

There are some exemptions available to drivers. You can apply for a financial hardship exemption to be exempted from having to install an ignition interlock device on all of your vehicles. If you are granted it, you will have to install the system on only one vehicle. Some drivers may be granted an employment exemption to operate company vehicles in the scope and course of their jobs. The employer must be notified, and the driver must carry proof of the notification. This exemption will not be granted to school bus drivers or drivers of large passenger vehicles.

If you are a first DUI offender, you may be granted an occupational limited license after you have served 60 days of your suspension. People whose licenses were suspended for 18 months and who have no more than a single prior offense may be able to get an occupational limited license after they have served 12 months of their suspensions.

If your license is suspended because you drove a vehicle that did not have a mandatory ignition interlock device installed or because you drove while your license was suspended for a DUI, you will not receive credit for the suspension until you have served time in jail. If you refuse to take a breath or blood test, your suspension may be increased.

Contact DiCindio Law

The penalties for DUI convictions in Pennsylvania are fairly severe. If you are facing a DUI charge, it is a good idea for you to seek help from an experienced DUI lawyer in West Chester. Contact DiCindio Law today to schedule a consultation by calling us at 610-430-3535.

What Is Felony Drunk Driving / Felony DUI?

In Pennsylvania, most DUI cases are charged as misdemeanor offenses. However, the state passed a stricter law in 2018 that makes certain types of DUIs felonies. There are also circumstances under which other DUIs can result in felony charges. If you are facing felony charges resulting from a DUI, it is important for you to talk to a criminal defense lawyer at DiCindio Law as soon as possible.

The difference between a felony and a misdemeanor

If you are convicted of a misdemeanor DUI offense in Pennsylvania, the penalties that you might face will depend on the level of your charge. Pennsylvania grades its misdemeanor DUI offenses by your blood alcohol concentration. If you had a BAC of 0.08% to 0.099%, you will be charged with a general impairment DUI. If your BAC was 0.10% to 0.159%, you will be charged with a high BAC DUI. if your BAC was 0.16% or higher, you will be charged with a highest BAC DUI.

While the penalties for the high BAC and the highest BAC DUI convictions are more severe than they are for a general impairment DUI, they are still misdemeanors. For your first highest BAC conviction, you face jail time ranging from a minimum of 72 hours up to one year, a fine of $1,000 to $5,000, and other penalties. While these penalties are certainly serious, they are not nearly as severe as what you could face if you are convicted of a felony. A felony conviction can lead to substantial prison sentences instead of serving time in county jail. The fines for felony convictions are also more substantial, and a felony conviction can cause lifelong collateral consequences.

When can a DUI be charged as a felony?

Under the Pennsylvania Act 153 of 2018, the law that establishes Pennsylvania’s felony DUI offense, a DUI may be charged as a felony in some situations. You may be charged with a felony DUI when you have three prior convictions for a DUI at any level within the last 10 years. If you have two prior DUI convictions within the past 10 years and had a minor under the age of 18 in your car, you can also be charged with a felony DUI. This is when your BAC is at least twice the legal limit of 0.08%.

These are now third-degree felony offenses under 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3803. Under Pa.C.S.A. § 15.66, a conviction for a third-degree felony can result in a prison sentence of up to 7 years.

DUI for an accident that causes serious injuries

If you are charged with a DUI for an accident that caused serious injuries to others, you may be charged with aggravated assault with a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. This is charged as a second-degree felony under 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3735.1. The maximum prison term for a conviction of a second-degree felony offense in Pennsylvania is 10 years.

DUI for an accident that causes a fatality

If you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and cause an accident that results in the death of someone else, you may be charged with homicide by vehicle while under the influence. A conviction for this offense may be a second or a first-degree felony, depending on the circumstances. Under 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3735, a conviction may be a second-degree felony that carries a minimum sentence of three years in prison up to 10 years in prison. If you are convicted of another DUI offense while your sentence for homicide while driving under the influence charge, the offense will be a first-degree felony. This may result in a sentence that has a maximum of more than 10 years. There are also different minimum sentences. You will face a minimum of five years in prison if you incurred one prior conviction while you were waiting to be sentenced. You may also receive consecutive sentences of five years each for each person who was killed.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is treated harshly under Pennsylvania law whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony offense. However, the stakes for you are much higher when you are charged with a felony for your DUI offense. If you are convicted of a felony, you may face a sentence of years in prison combined with substantial fines and a loss of your driving privileges.

Even after you have finished your sentence, you may face ongoing consequences for having a felony on your record. The collateral consequences of a felony DUI conviction could include having difficulty finding work, the loss of a professional license, inability to get security clearances, trouble finding an apartment, and humiliation. When you have the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney at DiCindio Law, you may be able to secure a more favorable outcome to your charges. Fill out our online contact form today to request a consultation so that you can learn more about the options that might be available to you.

What is a hardship license?

If you are charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will likely order that your license is suspended. Depending on whether you have had any prior DUI offenses, your suspension may last up to 18 months. Many people who are unable to drive have a difficult time getting to their jobs or to school. However, if you meet the requirements, it may be possible for you to get what is colloquially known as a hardship license in Pennsylvania. Under 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 1553, this type of license is called an occupational limited license, and it has several requirements. At DiCindio Law, we can review your situation and explain how to get a hardship license if you are eligible for one.

What is a hardship license, and what are the conditions of an occupational limited license in Pennsylvania?

In order to get an occupational limited license, you will have to be able to explain why you need to drive in order to get to treatment, work, school, or trade. You will also have to provide information about the location of your work, school, trade, or treatment provider. You will be restricted to driving only to and from those places. You may also be authorized to drive to and from your medical appointments.

Eligibility for an occupational limited license

In order to obtain an occupational limited license, you must submit a petition by certified mail that includes detailed information about why you need an occupational limited license. You will also need to submit proof of your employment, the program of study, or other allowed place. You must apply for an OLL before your period of suspension goes into effect, and you must surrender your driver’s license by mail at the time that you apply. You must also submit a $50 application fee.

Some offenses make you ineligible for an OLL. For example, you are not eligible to obtain an occupational limited license if you are suspended for the following violations:

  • Racing on the highways
  • Passing a school bus
  • Driving under the influence
  • Fleeing a police officer
  • Driving without your lights on
  • Homicide by vehicle or homicide by vehicle with a DUI
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • Reckless driving
  • Accidents causing injury or death
  • Failing to respond to a traffic citation
  • Refusing to submit to chemical testing
  • Driving while suspended DUI related
  • Are serving an ARD-ordered suspension
  • Failing to maintain financial responsibility

Ignition interlock statute as another potential alternative

If you are unable to get an occupational limited license, you may be able to get a restricted license by agreeing to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle under Pa. C.S.A. § 3805. Under this law, you may be able to apply for an ignition interlock limited license if you agree to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle. This is a relatively new option.  It is mostly focused on DUI matters.

Get help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer at DiCindio Law

Having your driving privileges suspended can create real hardships. Without being able to drive, you may have trouble keeping your job, getting your children to school, going to your medical appointments, and completing other tasks that are necessary for your family. If your license will soon be suspended, it is possible that you might be able to apply for an occupational limited license or agree to the installation of an ignition interlock device to get a restricted license. While these types of licenses will severely restrict where and how you can drive, they can at least enable you to get to the places that are crucial for you to drive for the benefit of you and your family. To learn more about whether you might be eligible for a hardship license in Pennsylvania, call DiCindio Law to schedule a consultation.

What Is a DUI Arraignment?

 

After you have been arrested for and charged with a DUI by the police, you will enter into the criminal process for DUI offenses. Many people who are charged with DUI offenses have never been in court facing criminal charges before. This means that many DUI offenders do not know what to expect and find the process confusing and frightening. At DiCindio Law, we can help you to understand what to expect so that you can anticipate what might happen next and what happens during the different phases of a DUI case. Here is what you need to know about a DUI arraignment in Pennsylvania.

After your arrest: The preliminary arraignment

After you have been arrested and taken into custody on suspicion that you have committed a DUI offense, bail will be set in your case. Some people may be released on their own recognizance while others may have bail set in a cash amount. If you are able to post a bond or are released in your own recognizance, you may be given paperwork upon your release that lists your next court date and that explains your charges.

At a preliminary arraignment, the court will advise you of the charges against you, ask you if you have an attorney, and tell you other rights that you have. If you cannot afford a lawyer, the court will appoint an attorney to represent you from the public defender’s office. The court will then schedule a preliminary hearing for you in the local district court where you were arrested.  Sometimes, if you are arrested and the charges are sent to you via summons – as is the case in many DUI matters – the preliminary arraignment and the preliminary hearing occur on the same day.

The preliminary hearing

The preliminary hearing is an important hearing for you when you have been charged with a DUI. It is a good idea to have an experienced attorney to represent you at this hearing. The court will review the evidence against you in your case. If the court finds that there is prima facie evidence to believe that it is more likely than not that you committed a DUI offense, your case will be bound over for trial. If the court instead finds that there is no probable cause/prima facie evidence to support the charges against you, the charges will be dismissed. An experienced lawyer can challenge the police officer’s probable cause/prima facie evidence to believe that you committed the DUI offense at the preliminary hearing. If there is a finding of probable cause/prima facie evidence, your case will be bound over for in the Court of Common Pleas.

The formal DUI arraignment

At the formal DUI arraignment, you will again be advised of the charges against you. The court will also inform you of your rights, the potential penalties for the charges, and ask you whether you want to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or stand mute. The prosecuting attorney may make a plea offer to you. It is important for you to be represented by an attorney at your formal arraignment hearing.

In most cases, it is not a good idea to enter a plea of guilty at your formal arraignment. This is because when you plead guilty, you will not have a chance to challenge the basis for your DUI charge. If you enter a plea of not guilty, your attorney will have the opportunity to file motions in your case to seek suppression of some of the evidence that is being used against you in your case. There will also be some deadlines for some of the motions that can be filed after your formal arraignment. Having a lawyer present with you can allow him or her to meet the deadlines imposed by the court.

At the formal arraignment or another time, depending on the county of your arrest,  you may be given the opportunity to enter the ARD program. The ARD program stands for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, and it is available to some first-time DUI offenders.

If you are eligible for the ARD program, it is an alternative that may allow you to resolve your DUI charge. This program allows the DUI to be expunged from your record if you are able to successfully complete a probationary program. There are restrictions concerning who can enter the ARD program that varies between the counties and some are written in the state statutes. Your DUI attorney can advise you about ARD, your eligibility, and whether it might be a good idea for you in your case.

Contact an experienced DUI lawyer

Being charged with a DUI offense can be frightening and confusing. If you have been charged, it is a good idea to talk to an experienced DUI attorney at DiCindio Law as soon as possible. Contact us today to schedule a consultation by filling out our online contact form. Someone will get back to you shortly so that you can learn more about the rights that you might have in your case.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

When most people think about a DUI, they visualize someone driving after drinking alcohol. However, alcohol is only one of many different substances that can impair your ability to safely drive a car. If you drive while you are under the influence of a drug, you can also be charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania. If you are facing charges of a DUI-D, the attorneys at DiCindio Law might be able to help you.

Driving after you have taken drugs, including certain prescription medications, marijuana, and illegal drugs, can impair your driving and result in a DUI charge. Having a prescription for your medication is not necessarily always a defense to a DUI-D.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 12.8 million people drove while they were under the influence of drugs in 2017. in 2016, 43.6% of drivers who were drug tested after accidents in which someone was killed were positive for one or more drugs.

Different drugs have different effects on drivers. Drugs that impair your concentration, motor skills, judgment, or alertness are just as dangerous as alcohol.

How is drug impairment measured?

All of the states have made driving with a blood alcohol concentration that is above a certain level illegal. In Pennsylvania, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. It is fairly easy to measure your impairment when you are stopped by a law enforcement officer in many cases. By contrast, it is not as easy to measure other types of drugs and your level of impairment.

For instance, THC in marijuana can be detected in your blood for typically around 30 days after use. There is no way to determine actual impairment from marijuana at a given time based solely on levels in the system, alone. On the other hand, cocaine leaves your body in just a couple of days.

Some law enforcement agencies use drug recognition experts or DREs. These are police officers who have undergone training to determine the level of impairment from drugs in motorists. DREs look for cues such as your eye movements and behavior that might point to being under the influence of drugs. Typically, the presence of drugs in your blood or urine are tested using a urine test or blood screen.

Drugged driving per se

While it can be harder to prosecute motorists for DUI-D offenses, Pennsylvania is one of 15 states that has a drugged driving per se law. Under 75 Pa. § 3802, it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle with any detectable level of certain types of drugs in your system. Under the statute, you cannot drive if you have any detectable amount of a Schedule I controlled substance in your blood. You also cannot drive if you have any detectable amount of a Schedule II or Schedule III drugs if you do not have a prescription for it. Finally, you can also be charged with a DUI-D per se charge if you have metabolites of these drugs in your blood.

Effects of different drugs

Drugs can have different effects on you and on your ability to drive. Here are the effects of different types of drugs.

  • Cocaine- Can cause euphoria, dizziness, excitement, increased alertness, disorientation, confusion, irritability, aggressiveness, paranoia, and rapid heart rate.
  • LSD- Can cause hallucinations, delusions, impaired space, time, and depth, altered mental state, high blood pressure, and tremors.
  • Marijuana- Can cause euphoria, relaxation, altered perception of space and time, disorientation, paranoia, drowsiness, distorted images, and increased heart rate.
  • Methamphetamine – Can cause excitement, euphoria, delusions, hallucinations, poor impulse control, insomnia, rapid heart rate, and high blood pressure.
  • Morphine and heroin- Can cause intense euphoria, relaxation, drowsiness, disconnectedness, sedation, analgesia, mental clouding, reduced heart rate, vomiting, nausea, and reduced reflexes.

Effects of prescription and over-the-counter drugs

Certain drugs that you are prescribed or that you can buy over-the-counter can still impair your driving. You should read the warning labels of your prescriptions and your OTC drugs. Here are some common prescription and OTC drugs that can impair you:

  • Antidepressants- Certain antidepressants are sedating and can cause impairment similar to alcohol.
  • Antihistamines- Some can slow reaction time and impair your coordination.
  • Valium- Taking 10 mg of this drug can impair you in a similar manner as when you have a BAC of 0.10% after drinking alcohol.
  • Sleeping pills- Sleeping pills can still have residual effects in the morning.
  • Decongestants- These drugs can cause you to feel anxious, dizzy, and drowsy.
  • Hydrocodone- This is an opiate and can cause similar effects as morphine.

Even though Pennsylvania has legalized medical marijuana, you can still be charged with a DUI-D if you are impaired at the time of driving.

Get legal help

Defending against a DUI-D can be tricky. If you are facing charges, it is important for you to seek legal help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer. At DiCindio Law, we understand the various types of defenses that might be available in a DUI-D case. We can review the facts and evidence in your case and explain the different options that you have available to you.

A DUI-D conviction can have serious consequences, including the potential for incarceration, steep fines, and other penalties. Even after you have completed your sentence, the conviction may cause long-lasting consequences on your life. You may have more trouble finding a job, finding housing, or securing educational loans. We will work to identify all of the defenses that might be available to you so that we can build the strongest defense case on your behalf. To learn more about the options that you might have, call DiCindio Law today to schedule a consultation.

What You Need To Know About Commercial Driver’s Licenses and DUI Regulations

If you are a truck driver, bus driver, or another professional who has a commercial driver’s license in Pennsylvania, you are held to a higher standard than other motorists in regards to driving while you are impaired. There are state and federal regulations and laws that apply to you as a commercial driver, and the rules are stricter for you than they are for other drivers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration promulgates federal regulations that govern commercial drivers, and each state has its own laws that also apply to drivers with CDLs within their boundaries.

There are good reasons why CDL drivers are regulated more strictly than other types of motorists. Commercial trucks and buses are much heavier and larger than other vehicles and can cause more damage when they cause accidents. Buses carry passengers, including children, who can be seriously hurt if an accident happens. The stakes are simply higher when a commercial driver drives after he or she has drunk alcohol or ingested drugs. If you are a commercial driver who is facing DUI charges, the legal team at DiCindio Law may be able to help you.

Drivers and employers that may be covered by FMCSA regulations

Many drivers and employers may be subject to the FMCSA’s regulations covering the use of drugs and alcohol by commercial drivers, including the following:

  • A person or entity that leases or owns commercial vehicles
  • A person or entity that assigns drivers to operate commercial vehicles
  • For-hire motor carriers
  • Private trucking carriers
  • Local, state, and federal governments
  • Civic organizations that transport people
  • Bus drivers
  • Truck drivers
  • Churches

FMCSA and Pennsylvania blood-alcohol limits

Under the FMCSA regulations for commercial drivers, the drivers have a legal limit of 0.04% blood alcohol concentration. By contrast, other motorists have a legal limit of 0.08% BAC. The FMCSA rules also state that commercial drivers are not allowed to operate commercial vehicles within four hours of drinking alcohol.

Under 75 Pa.CSA § 3802(f), Pennsylvania prohibits commercial drivers from operating, driving, or having actual physical control of a commercial truck’s movement when they have a BAC of 0.04% or higher when they are tested within two hours of driving the trucks. If you are a school bus driver, the limit is even lower at 0.02% BAC, which may be equivalent to a single beer.

Alcohol and drug testing for commercial drivers

Commercial drivers may have requirements to undergo random tests for alcohol. They may also be required to submit to a test following an accident, and when there is a reasonable suspicion that the driver has been drinking or using drugs. Commercial drivers may also have to submit to tests after an alcohol policy violation as a condition of returning to their jobs. For drugs, commercial drivers may also have to submit to drug testing as a condition of employment.

Under FMCSA regulations, commercial drivers who refuse to submit to blood alcohol tests when they are pulled over on suspicion of DUI may face harsher penalties.

Penalties for a commercial DUI

CDL drivers who are charged with DUIs in Pennsylvania while they are on the job will face similar procedures as other DUI defendants other than having a lower threshold for the BAC level. However, a DUI conviction for operating, driving, or being in actual physical control of a commercial vehicle while you are under the influence can cause you to lose your license for longer than for a general impairment DUI. As a commercial driver, the suspension might mean that you will lose your job.

Under 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 1611(a), a first DUI conviction by a CDL driver will result in a one-year disqualification of your CDL license. If you were transporting hazardous materials or were driving a bus with 16 or more passengers, a first offense can result in a license disqualification for three years. You will also be subject to a three-year disqualification if you were transporting hazardous materials or driving a bus for a refusal to submit to a test. If you have two convictions for a DUI, you may be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle or a bus for life.

The importance of getting legal help for your commercial DUI case

Because of the high stakes that are involved with DUIs when you have a commercial driving license, it is important for you to get legal help. If you plead guilty to the charges, you may lose your license and your livelihood. In addition, a conviction will subject you to the other penalties and fines of a DUI.

An experienced DUI lawyer at DiCindio Law may aggressively defend against your charges. Your attorney may fight the charge against you in an effort to protect your license and your job. Your attorney might also be able to secure a plea agreement to a different charge instead of a commercial DUI. To learn more, contact DiCindio Law today to schedule a consultation by filling out our online contact form.

Can You Get a DUI on a Bicycle?

In addition to being prohibited from driving a motor vehicle while you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you may also face DUI charges for operating other types of vehicles when you have been drinking. It is even possible for you to be convicted of a DUI offense while you are operating a non-motorized vehicle such as a bicycle in Pennsylvania. Bicyclists who are charged with DUI offenses must go through the same criminal processes as people who are charged with DUI offenses while they are operating motor vehicles. If you are facing a drunk bicycling charge, contact an attorney at DiCindio Law.

The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania decided a case in 2014 that involved a DUI on a bicycle in the case of Bilka v. Commonwealth Department of Transportation Bureau of Driver Licensing, 92 A.3d 1253 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2014). The decision in this case confirmed that the DUI laws in Pennsylvania cover bicycles and that bicyclists who are arrested for DUI offenses are not treated any differently than motorists. The court also found that bicyclists must submit to chemical testing under the state’s implied consent law or be subjected to penalties.

The Bilka case

James Bilka was stopped by the police on Sept. 15, 2011, after he rode his bicycle through a red light in front of a police officer. The officer said that Bilka’s speech was slurred, he was unsteady on his feet, and he smelled of alcohol. The officer confirmed with the local prosecutor’s office that Bilka could be charged with a DUI, and he was placed under arrest. After his arrest, Bilka refused chemical testing of his blood.

His driver’s license was suspended for 18 months under the state’s implied consent law because he refused to submit to chemical testing. He filed an appeal of his driver’s license suspension, arguing that bicyclists do not have to get a license to ride bicycles and shouldn’t be subject to the implied consent law.

The Commonwealth Court found that the state’s DUI laws do cover bicyclists and that bicyclists must face the same types of penalties when they are charged with drunk biking. The court also found that cyclists are covered under the state’s implied consent laws, so they must submit to chemical testing after they have been arrested on suspicion of DUI or face the loss of their driving privileges.

Pennsylvania DUI laws

In Pennsylvania, you are not supposed to drive, be in actual physical control, or operate a vehicle after you drink alcohol. As the Bilka case demonstrates, a vehicle also includes bicycles in addition to motorized vehicles. In 2004, the state legislature changed the statute from motor vehicle to vehicle with the intent to extend the DUI law to all types of vehicles.

Pennsylvania’s implied consent law

When you ride a bicycle or drive a vehicle in Pennsylvania, you are considered to have implicitly agreed to the implied consent law. This law says that you implicitly agree to chemical testing when you drive, operate, or are in actual physical control of a vehicle.

After you are arrested on suspicion that you were driving or riding while drunk, you must submit to testing. If you refuse to take a chemical test, you will face a mandatory suspension of your driving privileges.

You can refuse a test either implicitly or expressly. If you expressly refuse a test, this means that you say no when an officer asks you to take a chemical test. An implicit refusal will depend on the circumstances. In those cases, the officers decide that you refused even though you did not say no. For example, you may have been too intoxicated to take the test, or you might have a medical issue that keeps you from doing so.

Police do not have to offer you an alternative test. While you are able to appeal a determination of an implied refusal to PennDOT, you will have the burden of proving that your medical condition prevented you from being able to complete the test.

If you refuse a chemical test either expressly or implicitly, you will have your driving privileges suspended for either 12 or 18 months. The length of your suspension will depend on whether it was your first refusal or first DUI.

Should you refuse a test or submit to it?

In most cases, you should submit to a chemical test instead of refusing. If you refuse, you will not be able to drive for 12 to 18 months no matter what happens with the DUI case. Even without the results of a chemical test, it is still possible for you to be convicted of a DUI based on other evidence in your case such as witnesses and police observations. If you refuse and are subsequently convicted of the DUI charge, you will have the suspension of your license in addition to all of the other penalties for your DUI conviction.

If you submit to the chemical test, your lawyer can challenge how the test was administered and the results of the test. If your attorney can show that the police officer who administered your test did not do so properly or that the machine was not correctly calibrated, the test results may be suppressed so that the prosecution can’t use it as evidence against you. By contrast, evidence of a refusal can be used against you in a DUI case.

Get help from an experienced DUI lawyer

It is possible for you to be charged and arrested for a DUI when you are riding a bicycle. If you ride while you are under the influence of alcohol, you may face severe penalties for the DUI as well as the requirement to submit to chemical testing. An experienced lawyer at DiCindio Law may be able to successfully defend you against your charges. Contact us today by filling out our online contact form.