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.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions About Drunk Driving in PA

At DiCindio Law, we receive many questions from people about DUI charges in Pennsylvania. To help you gain some answers to the questions that you might have, we have compiled the following list of the most frequently asked questions that we regularly receive.

If I am convicted of a DUI, can I go to jail?

If you are convicted of driving under the influence in Pennsylvania, you may be sentenced to serve some time in jail. Pennsylvania has three levels of DUI offenses. For a first-offense general impairment DUI conviction, there is no mandatory jail sentence. However, if you are convicted of a first-offense middle-tier DUI offense, which is an offense for which your BAC tested at 0.10% to 0.1599%, you will face a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 48 hours. If you are convicted of a high-BAC DUI as a first offense, you will face a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 72 hours. Depending on your prior record, you could receive a sentence of up to one year in jail. If it is your first offense, you might be eligible for the ARD program. This program doesn’t carry any jail sentence. If you complete it successfully, the charges will eventually be dismissed.

What will happen if I am supposed to receive my DUI charges by mail?

If you are to receive your DUI charges by mail, you should usually receive them within 15 to 30 days. They will be sent together with a summons for your appearance in court for your preliminary hearing. At this hearing, the police will have to show that there is enough evidence for your charges to be bound over to the Court of Common Pleas. You must appear at this hearing at the scheduled time and date or risk a warrant for your arrest.

Do I need to hire a DUI defense attorney?

You are allowed to represent yourself against a DUI charge. However, representing yourself will place you at a serious disadvantage that may be exploited by the prosecutor and the police officer. When you represent yourself, you are held to the same standard as the prosecutor and will be expected to understand the laws and the procedures that apply. When your freedom is at stake, you should hire an experienced DUI defense attorney instead of trying to handle the charges on your own.

Can an offer charge me with a DUI when he or she did not see me driving?

To be convicted of a DUI in Pennsylvania, the police officer and the prosecutor must present evidence showing that you were driving, in actual physical control, or operating a vehicle. The officer does not need to have witnessed your driving. He or she can present other evidence that the car was driven. A defense case will be stronger when the officer did not directly observe you driving, however.

What if the officer did not read me my Miranda rights?

It is a common misconception that Miranda warnings must be read before you can be arrested. The police are not required to read you your Miranda rights when you are arrested. They are required when you are already in custody and are asked questions about the incident that could incriminate you. Since DUI cases normally involve an officer’s observations of you and your blood alcohol testing results, Miranda warnings are normally not given. If you did answer questions that could be incriminating and were not read your rights, your attorney could file a motion with the court to ask for your statements to be suppressed. Having your statements suppressed will not mean that the charges will be dismissed, however. It simply means that the prosecutor won’t be able to use your statements against you.

Can an officer stop me without a valid reason?

Police officers cannot stop people if they do not have a reasonable suspicion that a crime or traffic violation is being committed. If the officer stopped you without reasonable suspicion, your attorney should file a motion to suppress the evidence against you. A hearing will be scheduled, and the officer will have to prove that he or she stopped you for a valid reason. If the court finds that the stop was unconstitutional, the evidence will be suppressed, and your case will be dismissed.

Can I refuse to submit to a breath or blood test?

When you drive on the roads of Pennsylvania, you are considered to have given your implied consent to be tested for the presence of alcohol or drugs in your system. If you refuse a test, you will lose your driver’s license for at least one year after the officer notifies PennDot. This loss of your driving privileges will be in addition to any penalties you might receive for the DUI. Once you receive the letter of suspension, you will be given 30 days to appeal it. If you do, a hearing will be held to determine whether the officer followed the appropriate procedures in your case. If you win your hearing, your driving privileges will be restored. If you lose, your license will be suspended for one year or more.

Will being convicted of a DUI cause me to lose my driver’s license?

If you are convicted of a DUI, you will lose your license for one year. However, you might be eligible for an Ignition Interlock Limited License from PennDot.

What if I was taking legally prescribed medication?

You can be convicted of a DUI if you were taking legally prescribed medication that impaired your ability to drive. When you take certain types of medications, you are not supposed to drive.

Being charged with a DUI offense can be scary. When you get the help of an experienced DUI defense lawyer, your attorney may identify defenses that are available to you. Contact DiCindio Law today to schedule a free consultation by calling (610) 430-3535.

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.

DUI with Blood Alcohol Over .16

In West Chester and throughout Pennsylvania, driving under the influence is treated seriously by law enforcement officers and the courts. If you are stopped by the police on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, you may face even more serious penalties if your blood alcohol concentration tests at 0.16 percent or higher. This is considered to be the highest BAC level under Pennsylvania law, and it can bring a harsher punishment than if your BAC tests lower.

The impact of getting charged and arrested for a DUI with a BAC of 0.16% or higher can be damaging. Your license may be suspended for a year or more, making it difficult for you to get to where you need to go. You might also face several months to years of jail, substantial fines, and other penalties. If you have been charged with a high-BAC DUI offense, it is important for you to retain a criminal defense lawyer from DiCindio Law who is experienced in handling DUI cases as soon as possible.

What is a BAC level?

When the police stop people and suspect that they are under the influence of alcohol, the officers may ask them to submit to a breathalyzer or blood test. These tests are different than the preliminary breath tests that may be administered at the side of the road and are instead performed at the police station with a breathalyzer machine or by medical personnel who use blood draws to draw samples for laboratory analysis.

Your blood alcohol concentration refers to the percentage of alcohol that you have in your breath or blood at the time of your testing. Police ask motorists that they suspect of drunk driving to submit to one of these tests to determine the level of alcohol that they have in their blood.

In Pennsylvania, anyone who is found to have a BAC of 0.08% or greater will be charged with a DUI. If your BAC is 0.16 or higher, the potential penalties will be more severe.

You must be tested within two hours of the time of your stop. If you refuse, you may immediately lose your license for a year or longer.

What are the penalties for a high-BAC DUI of 0.16% or higher?

In Pennsylvania, people who are convicted of driving under the influence will face different penalties, depending on their BAC level and any prior offenses that they might have.

If you have never been charged with a DUI before and have a BAC that tests at more than 0.16%, you may face the following penalties:

  • From three days up to six months in jail
  • A fine of $1,000 up to $5,000
  • Mandatory attendance at alcohol safety school
  • The installation of an ignition interlock system for a year
  • Potential mandated attendance in a court-ordered alcohol treatment program

If you have a prior DUI conviction and are charged with a DUI when your BAC was higher than 0.16%, the penalties may be enhanced as follows:

  • Jail ranging from a minimum of 90 days up to five years
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for 18 months
  • Fine ranging from $1,500 to $10,000
  • Attendance at alcohol safety school
  • Ignition interlock system in your car for a year
  • Possible requirement to undergo court-ordered alcohol treatment

If you have two prior DUI convictions and are charged with a DUI when your BAC tests at more than 0.16%, you may face the following potential penalties:

  • Jail from one to five years
  • Suspension of your license for 18 months
  • Fine ranging from $2,500 to $10,000
  • Ignition interlock system installed for one year
  • You may also be ordered to undergo alcohol treatment

In addition to these penalties, there are collateral consequences that you could face. If you are convicted, you will have a permanent criminal record. A criminal record can make it harder for you to obtain employment or housing, and it may also be embarrassing for you. Your auto insurance premiums will likely increase. If you caused a death or injury when you were driving under the influence of alcohol, your sentence may be more severe. Finally, you may be sued in civil court for damages for any injury accident that you might have caused.

When your BAC tests at 0.16% or higher, you will be required to undergo an assessment for drug and alcohol addiction. If you are determined to have an addiction, you may be ordered by the court to complete a treatment program.

What to do if you are charged with a high-BAC DUI

If you are charged with a DUI with a BAC of 0.16% or higher, you should immediately retain an experienced West Chester DUI attorney at DiCindio Law. This offense is serious, if you are convicted, you could be sentenced to jail for up to several years. An experienced lawyer can start working on your case before your first hearing occurs.

You should receive a copy of the criminal complaint against you soon after your arrest. You should bring this document with you to show your lawyer so that he or she can see the specific charges that you are facing. After you have received your charges, the court will schedule a preliminary hearing. At this hearing, you will hear the options that you have. Having an attorney present to represent you can help you to secure the most favorable outcome that is possible for your case.

What defenses might be available?

If you decide to turn down a plea offer and go to trial, your lawyer will work to identify the possible defenses that are available to you. Some of the possible defenses might include the following:

  • There was no probable cause for the officer to stop you;
  • There was no probable cause for the officer to test you;
  • The results of your test were inaccurate;
  • The machines used for your test was faulty, inaccurate, or incorrectly calibrated; or
  • You were tested after the two-hour window had passed.

If the officer did not have probable cause to stop your car, your lawyer may seek to suppress the evidence against you. If your lawyer was successful, the charges would likely be dismissed. If other types of motions are successful, it could lead to a reduction in your charges. Getting help from an experienced DUI lawyer in West Chester can help you to determine whether any of these types of errors might have happened in your case. To learn more about your rights, contact DiCindio Law today by calling 610.430.3535.


DISCLAIMER
The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer and personal injury attorney who represents individuals accused of crimes or injured by the negligence of others throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

How to Avoid a Criminal Record for First-Time Offenders

If you have a criminal record, it can seriously impact your life. A conviction can cause you to lose your job or to have problems finding a new position. Some convictions may cause you to lose your ability to get financial aid for school. You could also lose your government benefits and have trouble getting into a college of your choice or into the military. If you are a first-time offender of a minor offense, you might be able to participate in a diversion program to avoid a conviction.

Every county in Pennsylvania has its own district attorney’s office. These offices have their own diversion programs and admission requirements. At DiCindio Law, we can advise you about whether you might qualify for a diversion program and help you to apply if you do. The benefit of these programs is that your charges could be withdrawn, and you might be able to have them expunged from your record. Some of the diversion programs that are available in Chester County include the following:

• Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program or ARD
• Drug Court
• Mental Health Court pre-plea or post-plea diversion

What is a diversion program?

A diversion program allows you to have your criminal case diverted away from going to trial. Depending on whether your diversion is pre- or post-plea, you might not have to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. You may be assigned a probation officer who will supervise your progress in the diversion program. When you successfully complete it, the charges against you may be dismissed or withdrawn. They can then be expunged from your record. Commonly, these programs require you to pay fines, perform community service, attend drug and alcohol treatment, and attend other classes. You may also be required to meet with the probation officer and to submit to drug and alcohol tests. If you are placed in a diversion program, it is important that you comply with all of the instructions so that you can complete it and have your charges dismissed.

The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program (ARD)

The ARD program was created by statute and is available in all counties in Pennsylvania. If you do not have any prior arrests or have a very limited history, you might be eligible for the ARD program. The ARD program may be available to you if you are facing charges for a low-level misdemeanor, including the following types (depending on the county you are charged in):

  • DUI
  • Receiving stolen property
  • Theft
  • Harassment
  • Simple assault
  • Criminal mischief
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Retail theft
  • Passing bad checks
  • Simple possession

The District Attorney determines who can be admitted into the ARD program. Even if you are facing one of the previously listed charges, the circumstances might result in you being rejected from ARD. Conversely, if you have been overcharged, it is possible that you might gain admission to ARD even if you are facing more serious charges.

Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney may help you to gain admission to the ARD program. An attorney might know how to complete the application and who to talk to at the DA’s office in order to give you the best chances of being admitted.

Drug Court

The Chester County Drug Court Program was the second such program in the state of Pennsylvania. This program is available to people who are charged with non-mandatory drug crimes or DUIs with drug offenses who do not have any record of violent offenses. In order to be eligible to participate, you must waive your right to a preliminary hearing and legally reside in the U.S.

The District Attorney has discretion about who to admit to the drug court program. Your lawyer can submit an application on your behalf, and you will have to complete a drug and alcohol assessment. If you are accepted, you will be assigned to a probation officer for intensive supervision. You will go through several phases during the program, and you must submit to drug and alcohol tests, appear before the court for regular reviews, and comply with all of the program’s rules. You will also have to actively seek or maintain a job or engage in productive activity each day and pay costs and fines. If you successfully complete all of the phases of the drug court program, maintain your sobriety, and have stable employment (among potential other conditions) the court will dismiss your charges and you can expunge them from your record.

If you violate any of the conditions of the drug court program, you can be removed from it or receive sanctions. The program takes from 12 to 24 months and goes through four phases. If you violate the program, the program may last longer. If you are removed from it, you will face the underlying charges and will have to handle them through the regular criminal court process.

Mental health court

The mental health court program is available on a pre-plea or post-plea diversionary basis or as a referral from probation. You may be eligible for mental health court if you are diagnosed with a mental illness or a dual diagnosis of a mental illness and a substance abuse disorder and have been charged with a misdemeanor or certain felony offenses. The mental health court staff complete screenings to determine eligibility. If you are accepted into the program, you will move through four phases. If your participation was completed on a pre-plea diversionary basis, the charges may be dismissed upon your successful completion. If you were referred and accepted to the program on a post-plea diversionary basis, you will be required to complete the programs supervision requirements after pleading guilty.

Contact DiCindio Law

If you are a first offender of a low-level misdemeanor offense or are facing charges for certain felony drug offenses, you may be eligible for a diversion program. Contact DiCindio Law to learn more about diversion and whether it might be a good choice for you.


DISCLAIMER
The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer and personal injury attorney who represents individuals accused of crimes or injured by the negligence of others throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

What Happens If You Receive a First-Offense DUI in Pennsylvania?

Being charged with driving under the influence of alcohol in West Chester, Pennsylvania can result in serious consequences that can have a negative impact on your life. If you are a first-time DUI offender, your DUI charge will likely be a misdemeanor offense that will not have as large of an impact on your life as a felony offense could. However, you might still face potential jail time, substantial fines, mandatory classes, and a loss of your driving privileges. If you are facing a first-time DUI offense, it is important for you to understand what to expect. Working with an experienced DUI defense attorney at DiCindio Law might help you to secure a more favorable resolution to your charge.

DUI arrests in Pennsylvania

If a police officer pulls you over in West Chester and suspects that you are driving under the influence, he or she will likely ask you to complete some field sobriety tests. Your performance on these tests will be a factor in whether you will be arrested. If the officer is able to establish probable cause to believe that you were driving drunk, you will be detained, processed, and asked to submit to a blood alcohol content test. You may then be released after a few hours have passed or during the morning.

Pennsylvania has an implied consent law. Under this law, your ability to drive is considered to be a privilege rather than a right. By the act of driving, you are considered to have implicitly given your consent to submit to blood alcohol concentration testing when you have been taken into custody on suspicions of drunk driving. If you refuse to test, the officer must then inform you that your driver’s license will be suspended. Basically, if you refuse to take a Breathalyzer test to ascertain the concentration of alcohol that you have in your blood, you will be deemed to have given up your privilege to drive in Pennsylvania.

The court process for DUIs

The court will send you a summons in the mail after you have been released. This paper will tell you when to appear for a preliminary hearing. If you want to retain an attorney, it is a good idea to hire him or her before your preliminary hearing. Your lawyer will review the evidence in your case and advise you about the options that you have.

If you plan to enter a plea of not guilty or to fight the charges, you should be prepared for a battle. It may be a matter of your word versus the police officer’s word. While the prosecutor always has the burden of proving that you committed the offense beyond a reasonable doubt, you will still need to prepare a strong defense case for a trial. If you decide to plead guilty to the charge, you will still be required to attend the hearing. If you do not appear in court, you can face additional penalties that can make everything more difficult.

Penalties for DUI cases

The penalties and fines that you might be assessed will depend on the facts and circumstances of what happened in your case. Your BAC at the time that you were arrested may impact the penalty range. Pennsylvania assesses penalties and fines for DUI cases into three tiers. The first tier includes DUI cases in which your BAC ranges from 0.08% to 0.099% or when it cannot be determined. Typically, the penalty for a first-tier DUI offense will include having a misdemeanor conviction on your record, a fine, and the possibility of probation.

A second tier DUI offense is one in which your BAC falls from 0.10% and 0.159%. Typically, you can expect to face a possible time in jail, a license suspension of one year, and a fine that is more substantial. You may also be ordered to undergo mandatory counseling or treatment.

The third tier of DUI offenses is reserved for people who have a BAC of 0.16% or higher. At this level, you can expect to face a longer period of time in jail and the highest possible fines. If your BAC falls into the third tier, you can also expect to face treatment or counseling that will be ordered by the court in addition to the other penalties.

What to do to avoid a DUI conviction

The best approach to DUIs is to avoid getting a charge to begin with. If you are planning to go to a bar or a party where alcohol will be served, take money with you for a cab, public transportation, or ride-share service. If you drive to a bar, ask the manager if it is okay for you to leave your car in the parking lot until the next day.

When you have been drinking, you might think that you can still drive. However, you have to remember that your thinking is impaired after you have had a few drinks and that you cannot make good decisions about driving when you are intoxicated. It is best for you to remove the temptation to drive home after drinking by taking a cab or using a ride-share service to get to the bar or party. If you drink and drive, you will place both yourself and others around you at risk.

Get help for a first-time DUI offense

If you are already facing a first-time DUI offense, it is important for you to talk to an experienced DUI defense lawyer at DiCindio Law. You should avoid entering a guilty plea too quickly and should have an offer that is extended to you reviewed by a lawyer. It is possible that your attorney might be able to identify strong defenses that you can raise to secure a better plea offer or a dismissal of the charge against you. To learn about the defenses that might be available to you and the potential penalties that you might face, contact our firm today by calling 610.430.3535.


DISCLAIMER
The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer and personal injury attorney who represents individuals accused of crimes or injured by the negligence of others throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?

Drunk driving stops, arrests, and convictions occur frequently in Pennsylvania. Most people are acquainted with someone who has been stopped, arrested, or convicted for drunk driving. Because of how common these types of cases are, many people think that they know what you should do when you are asked to submit to a Breathalyzer test, and they might freely give you their advice even though they are not attorneys. Before you listen to someone else’s opinion about whether you should submit to or refuse a Breathalyzer test, it is important that you understand the consequences of refusing to submit to it when a police officer asks you to do so. At DiCindio Law, we regularly represent people who are facing DUI charges even after they have refused a Breathalyzer test, and we may work to secure the best possible outcome to any charges that you might face.

What happens if you refuse to submit to a Breathalyzer test?

When you drive on the roads in Pennsylvania, you give your implied consent to submit to a Breathalyzer test. If you refuse to take a test when you are asked to do so by a police offer, you could face serious consequences. If you are pulled over by an officer who believes that you might be under the influence of alcohol, you may have your license suspended or possibly face jail time if you refuse to submit to a test.

If you do refuse a Breathalyzer test, the prosecutors can still charge you with a DUI or DWI based on other evidence that the officer collects, including his or her observations, the results of a field sobriety test, or witness statements. Under Pennsylvania’s implied consent laws, prosecutors may be permitted to use your refusal to take a Breathalyzer test as evidence against you in a trial.

What is Pennsylvania’s implied consent law?

In Pennsylvania, your ability to drive is considered to be a privilege rather than a right. This means that your driver’s license can be suspended if you do not submit to a breathalyzer test when you are suspected of drunk driving. When you drive, you are considered to have implicitly consented to a Breathalyzer test in exchange for your driving privileges.

In Pennsylvania, if you refuse testing when you are suspected of driving under the influence, your license can be suspended for 12 months if you have no prior suspensions or 18 months if you do. In order to restore your driving privileges, you will also have to pay a fee once your period of suspension is over.

Despite the penalties for refusing a Breathalyzer, some people refuse because they think that the penalties are less than what they might expect if they submitted to the test. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an estimated 20% of drivers who are suspected of drunk driving refuse to test. It is important for you to understand that you will still face the penalties for refusing to submit to a test even if you are successful in your DUI case because it is considered to be a separate offense and handled by PennDot, not the criminal system. Officers can also use other evidence to prove that you were driving under the influence. For example, they can testify that your speech was slurred, that your eyes were red and watery, and that they could smell the scent of alcohol on your breath. If you submit to the roadside tests, they can also testify about your performance on them.

If you submit to a Breathalyzer test and receive results showing that your BAC was 0.08% or higher, that does not automatically mean that you will be convicted of a DUI. It is possible that your attorney may be able to challenge the results to show that they were inaccurate.

How the validity of a Breathalyzer test might be challenged

When the police administer a Breathalyzer test, they are required to follow specific guidelines. If they fail to do so, the test results may be challenged. Some of these challenges might include the following:

  • The Breathalyzer machine was not properly calibrated;
  • The officer did not observe you for 20 minutes before giving you the test;
  • The Breathalyzer was administered more than two hours after your stop;
  • The officer who tested you did not have the required certification;
  • The officer who tested you did not do so properly; or
  • You were not tested two consecutive times.

If one of these challenges is successful, your test results may be inadmissible at any trial. This means that the jury would not hear evidence about your Breathalyzer test. If the results are found to be valid, there are still certain medical conditions that can result in a false positive.

You can have a false positive on a breath test due to some medical conditions and some medications can also give you false positive results because they have alcohol in them.  Smoking, vomiting, or drinking alcohol during the 20 minutes before the test will also invalidate the results.

Get help from an experienced DUI defense lawyer at DiCindio Law

When you refuse to submit to a Breathalyzer test, you can face serious penalties such as a long suspension of your license followed by substantial restoration fees. An attorney can help to defend you and to determine whether your stop was lawful. If you refused a Breathalyzer test and have questions about your case, call DiCindio Law at 610.430.3535. We can help you to understand the options that you might have and the possible defenses that you might have available to you in your DUI case.


DISCLAIMER
The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer and personal injury attorney who represents individuals accused of crimes or injured by the negligence of others throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

How to beat a DUI

How to Beat a Driving Under the Influence (DUI)  Case

     DUI/driving under the influence offenses are some of the most frequently charged criminal offenses in the Pennsylvania. When someone is charged with a driving under the influence (DUI) offense they may immediately feel a sense of hopelessness because their liberty, driving privileges and reputation may be impacted.  This article is not meant to highlight some of the main ways someone can challenge a DUI case.

     There are programs that may permit you to avoid conviction if you are a first offender. For second or third (plus) offenders there may be treatment court options or intermediate punishment programs. This article is solely meant as an overview of the  litigation points of attack that need to be evaluated in every DUI case. Also, this is not to say that there will ALWAYS be legitimate issues in the following categories – these are the issues that a defense attorney (any worth his/her fee) MUST evaluate before making a recommendation to his client in any DUI case.

     First – the legality of the of the stop: Before any law-enforcement officer may stop a motor vehicle in Pennsylvania they must possess either reasonable suspicion or probable cause. Therefore, the first battle ground in any DUI case is whether or not the arresting officer possessed the needed legal justification to pull over and/or come into contact with the driver of the vehicle.  In these situations if the stop is found to be illegal/unconstitutional then all of the evidence that flows from it will be suppressed. If the stop is suppressed than the case must be dismissed.

West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer

West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer

     Second –  whether the officer possessed the requisite legal justification to take the driver individual for a chemical test of their breath or blood: Observations, field sobriety tests, defendant admissions, portable breath tests and more play into this evaluation. There are times where there is not the requisite legal justification to take an individual for further/formal chemical test of their breath or blood.  When that is the case the results of the chemical test are suppressed and not permitted into evidence.

     Finally – issues that may present themselves at trial: These issues typically involve two main categories outside of what has already been addressed.  One of the main issues at trial is the factual argument that an individual was not driving. That is not always a defense that is available to him/her for obvious reasons.  Another argument is based upon the scientific accuracy of the chemical tests of the breath/ blood.

     There are many other arguments and defenses that may present themselves in DUI case.  Each and every factual scenario is unique and this is not an exhaustive list by any means.  Before making any decision in any criminal DUI / driving under the influence case – at a very minimum, these issues should be examined, evaluated and understood before deciding on a strategy.


The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes to the law that may be relevant. The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments or the most complete legal issues for all cases These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer and personal injury attorney who represents individuals accused of crimes or injured by the negligence of others throughout all of Chester County.

DiCindio Law, LLC opens newly renovated West Chester Office

DiCindio Law, LLC opens newly renovated West Chester Office building.

Located in downtown West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania and built in 1900 – the firm’s building has undergone a top to bottom renovation/restoration with the idea of preserving and repairing the building to the beauty it once was and providing Mike’s client’s with a comfortable and accessible office location and atmosphere.

Mike DiCindio looks forward to continuing to serve his current and future client’s for years to come at this new location.

West Chester Criminal Lawyer and West Chester Personal Injury Lawyer

.