How do I find out my BAC from a DUI?

Some drivers in Pennsylvania may be charged with DUI offenses before their blood test results come back. If you are charged with a DUI and are waiting for the blood test results, you might not learn your BAC level until your preliminary hearing. DiCindio Law can explain how different BAC levels might impact the penalties that you will face. If your BAC results appear to be inaccurate, your attorney can investigate how the testing and analysis were performed to identify potential problems.

How different BAC levels might affect you

When people drink, they might wonder how alcohol might affect their ability to drive. Different levels of alcohol in your blood can affect you differently.

When you have a BAC of 0.02% to 0.03%, you may have a slight loss of motor skills and a slightly euphoric feeling. This is the BAC that people who weigh less than 190 pounds will have after one drink.

If your BAC is between 0.04% to 0.06%, you might feel happy and uninhibited. You might experience a minor impairment of your mental functioning. This BAC level typically results in people who have two drinks when they weigh less than 190 pounds. People who weigh more than 190 pounds might have BACs in this range after three or four drinks.

If your BAC is 0.07% to 0.09%, your motor skills, judgment, speech, and self-control may all be impaired. This range is what most people have after drinking four or five drinks.

If your BAC falls from 0.10% to 0.125%, your speech will likely be slurred, and your motor control will be reduced. At this level, driving is dangerous.

A BAC that ranges from 0.13% to 015% makes your motor control to greatly decline. Any euphoric feelings that you previously experienced might be replaced by anger, depression, or anxiety. If your BAC is 0.16% or higher, you will likely be incapacitated. You may be nauseous and have trouble focusing. Very high BAC levels can result in vomiting, comas, and death.

Officers test your blood, breath, or urine to calculate what your BAC was at the time that you were driving. An experienced lawyer can contest these types of calculations to help people to avoid serious penalties.

Understanding the symptoms that are associated with various BAC levels can help you to make better decisions about driving. If you feel impaired by alcohol, you should opt to call a cab or to take public transportation instead of trying to drive yourself home.

How police test the blood alcohol concentration

Police officers test people to check their BAC levels by using breath tests, blood tests, or urine tests. Breath and blood tests are the most commonly used in Pennsylvania. However, all of these tests are subject to errors. If you receive a higher BAC result than you expected and are certain that you were not over the limit, you might have been drinking but were not impaired. It is also possible that you did not drink any alcohol, making it impossible for you to be drunk.

Reasons why you might have a higher BAC result after drinking

Some people may remain under the limit after having a couple of drinks. Others might still have alcohol in their systems from the previous night. If you feel tipsy, you are likely over the limit. If you do not, your BAC may be below 0.08%.

If you are sure that your BAC was not over the limit after you had a drink or two, it can be caused by testing errors, alcohol in your mouth, or a rising BAC level. Mistakes are sometimes made with testing. For example, breath tests may be inaccurate when the machines are not properly calibrated. Blood tests may be inaccurate when the sample is not properly tested, stored, or handled. When these problems occur, your lawyer might be able to have your test results declared to be inadmissible as evidence against you.

Breath tests test the air that is deep in your lungs. However, if you have an alcohol source in your mouth, the results can be wrong. For example, burping and acid reflux can skew breath test results. Using a mouth wash or breath spray can also do so. The police are supposed to wait for a certain time to pass after you burp before administering a breath test.

Alcohol is absorbed by the body from the stomach slowly. If a police officer waits too long to administer a test, your BAC can rise higher than it was when you were driving.

Finally, there is a margin of error with BAC tests. If your BAC results were near to the limit, you might not have been driving illegally. An attorney might be able to get the prosecutor to agree to reduce your charges or to dismiss your case.

Tests showing the presence of alcohol when you didn’t drink

In some cases, people are charged with DUIs when they have not drunk any alcohol. There are several reasons why you might receive a BAC result that is greater than the legal limit after you have not consumed any alcohol, including the following:

  • Diabetes
  • Following a ketogenic diet
  • Taking cold medications that contain alcohol
  • Using breath spray or mouth wash that contains alcohol

 

If you think that your BAC results are inaccurate, you should talk to an attorney. Call DiCindio Law today to schedule a consultation at (610) 430-3535. You can also submit your information on our online contact form, and someone will get back to you.

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

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

Resolving DUI charges

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

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

Negotiating a plea offer

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

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

Entering a not guilty plea

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

What happens if you are convicted of a DUI?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Is in the DUI Police Report?

If you are arrested for a DUI in Pennsylvania, the police officer will write a police report. The officer’s report will document your arrest and the evidence against you. Normally, officers prepare their reports immediately after they arrest people for DUI offenses. After they write their reports, the officers submit them to the prosecutor’s office and the court. The report will also be sent to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. If you are facing DUI charges, you will want to get a copy of the police report. DiCindio Law can review it with you and explain your options.

Importance of the police report in DUI cases

The police report is among the most important documents in a DUI case because it contains the arresting officer’s observations of you and the circumstances that led to your arrest. When an officer testifies in a DUI case, he or she can ask for permission to refresh his or her recollection with the report. In most cases, officers testify to what is in their reports. If they deviate, it can harm the state’s case against you.

What is included in a DUI police report?

The police report in your DUI case will include information about what led the officer to pull your vehicle over, the stop itself, and observations that the officer made to make him or her that you were impaired by alcohol or drugs. Often, the police reports contain just enough information to justify your arrest and to result in a conviction.

The police report will contain the officer’s report about your driving, your appearance, your speech, any odors, and the results of any field sobriety tests that were conducted. The officer’s observations about your driving will be what led him or her to pull you over such as weaving, speeding, driving too slowly, or other indicators of impairment. Typical observations about people’s appearances in DUI reports include such things as watery, red eyes, a disheveled appearance, and others. The officer might note that he or she smelled alcohol on your breath or that your speech was slurred.

DUI police reports include a checklist for the various field sobriety tests, including the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk-and-turn, and the one-legged stand. Horizontal gaze nystagmus is a twitch of the eye at an angle of less than 45 degrees. The officer will use a pen and ask you to track it with your eyes as it is moved from side to side to look for this indicator. If it is observed, the officer will note it in the DUI report.

The officer’s report of your performance on the other standardized field sobriety tests will also be included. If the officer questioned you, he or she will include the answers that you gave to his or her questions. Finally, the officer will include information about the chemical tests that were administered and include a printout of the results. If you took a preliminary breath test at the roadside, a printout of it will be included. If the officer administered a breathalyzer test to you at the police station, the results will be included together with the machine’s serial number. Lab reports will be included if you submitted to a urine or blood test.

What should you look for in a DUI police report?

Officers sometimes exaggerate the facts in their DUI reports to make defendants appear worse than they were. For example, the officer might say that you slurred your speech, had a disheveled appearance, had red eyes, and struggled to get your license out of your wallet to hand to the officer. Even if these statements are untrue, it will be difficult to fight them on your own. An experienced DUI defense attorney at DiCindio Law might challenge the report by contesting the accuracy and validity of the following things:

  • The blood, breath, or urine test results
  • Whether the field sobriety tests were conducted properly
  • The reason for your stop
  • Probable cause for your arrest

Blood and Urine Test

If you are able to call strong witnesses or have other evidence such as video or photos that contradict information that is contained in the officer’s report, it can be helpful. If your lawyer is able to prove that the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to pull you over or failed to build sufficient probable cause for your arrest, some or all of the evidence against you may be deemed inadmissible. This can result in the dismissal or reduction of your charges.

Getting a copy of the police report

In most cases, you will not be able to see the police report until your first court appearance. Once the case is filed against you, your lawyer can request a copy of the police report as a part of the discovery process.

Contact DiCindio Law

When you are charged with a DUI, that does not mean that you will be found guilty of the offense. Police officers sometimes make mistakes when they stop vehicles, complete observations, and place people under arrest. An experienced DUI defense lawyer at DiCindio Law can review the police report and the evidence to identify any issues with how the stop, search, and seizure were conducted. Your lawyer can also examine the testing that was performed to identify any issues with the machine or the lab tests that were used. Contact DiCindio Law today to schedule a consultation by filling out our online contact form or calling us at 610.430.3535.

How much time can you get for a DUI in PA?

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is treated seriously in Pennsylvania. If you are convicted of a DUI offense, you will face serious penalties. The consequences for a DUI conviction will depend on your blood alcohol concentration within two hours of driving and whether you have had any previous DUI convictions. DiCindio Law can help you to understand the penalties that you might face if you are convicted and the potential defenses that might be raised in your case.

How Pennsylvania classifies DUI offenses

Pennsylvania uses a three-tier DUI system to classify DUIs by the driver’s blood alcohol concentration when he or she is arrested. While the state has a threshold of 0.08% for DUI offenses, the penalties are increasingly more severe as the BAC level goes up. The three tiers of DUI offenses include general impairment DUIs, high BAC DUIs, and highest BAC DUIs. Similarly, the penalties increase for subsequent convictions at all three BAC levels.

First-offense DUIs in Pennsylvania

The penalties that you might face for a first-offense DUI conviction will depend on your BAC at the time of your arrest. General impairment DUI offenses may be charged if your BAC results fell between 0.08% and 0.99%. You may be charged with a high BAC DUI if your BAC tested from 0.10% and 0.159% within two hours of driving. Finally, you may be charged with the highest BAC DUI offense if your BAC tested at 0.16% or higher within two hours of driving.

Penalties for a first DUI offense

If you are convicted of a first DUI offense in Pennsylvania, the penalties that you will face will depend on your BAC level. The penalties for a first offense general impairment DUI include the following:

  • $300 fine
  • Up to six months of probation
  • Alcohol highway traffic school
  • Treatment if ordered

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

  • 48 hours up to six months in jail
  • Fine from $500 to $5,000
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • Treatment may be ordered
  • License suspension for 12 months

If you are convicted of the highest BAC DUI, you will face the following penalties:

  • 72 hours up to six months in jail
  • Fine from $1,000 up to $5,000
  • Suspension of your license for 12 months
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • Treatment if ordered

Options for a first-offense DUI

Pennsylvania offers the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition or ARD program for first-time DUI offenders. You have to apply for acceptance to ARD to participate in it. If you are accepted and complete all of the requirements, your DUI charge will be dismissed. This can help you to avoid having a first DUI conviction on your record. You can then petition the court to have your DUI expunged from your record.

Penalties for second-offense DUIs in Pennsylvania

If you are convicted of a second DUI offense in Pennsylvania within 10 years, the penalties will be more severe at each BAC level. A second conviction for a general impairment DUI offense will carry the following penalties:

  • Five days up to six months in jail
  • Fines from $300 to $2,500
  • Suspension of your license for 12 months
  • Treatment may be ordered

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

  • Jail from 30 days up to six months
  • Fines from $750 to $5,000
  • Suspension of your license for 12 months
  • Treatment may be ordered

If you are convicted of a second DUI with the highest BAC, you will face the following penalties:

  • From 90 days up to five years in prison
  • Fines from $1,500 to $10,000
  • Suspension of your license for 18 months

For second offenses at all BAC levels, you will be ordered to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle for 12 months. The court will order you to complete up to 150 hours of community service.

Penalties for third DUI offenses

If you are convicted of a third DUI offense within 10 years, the penalties will become even more severe at each BAC level. A third general impairment DUI offense with a BAC of 0.8% but less than 0.10% is a second-degree misdemeanor that carries the following penalties:

  • At least 10 days in jail
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for 12 months
  • Fine from $500 to $5,000

A third DUI offense within 10 years with a BAC of 0.10% up to 0.1599% will result in the following penalties:

  • First-degree misdemeanor
  • 90 days up to five years in jail
  • Fine from $1,500 to $10,000
  • 18-month driver’s license suspension

If you are convicted of a third offense with a high or highest BAC level, you will face the following penalties:

  • Third-degree felony
  • From one to seven years in prison
  • Suspension of your license for 18 months
  • Fine from $2,500 to $15,000

The penalties for a third conviction at the highest BAC level are similar to those listed for the third conviction of a DUI at a high BAC level. All third convictions will also require you to attend an alcohol highway safety school, complete alcohol treatment, and install an ignition interlock system in your vehicle.

Penalties for minor DUI convictions

Pennsylvania has more serious penalties for minors who are convicted of DUI offenses. You can be convicted of a minor DUI if you are under age 21 and have a BAC of 0.02% or higher. For the first conviction of a minor DUI, you will face the following penalties:

  • Jail from 48 hours up to six months
  • Fine from $500 to $5,000
  • 12-month license suspension
  • Drug and alcohol evaluation followed by potential treatment
  • Up to 150 hours of community service

A second conviction of a minor DUI will carry stiffer penalties. The minimum jail sentence will be increased to 30 days up to six months, and the fine will be increased to $750 up to $5,000. If you are convicted of a third minor DUI, you will face a minimum jail sentence of 90 days up to six months, and your fine will range from $1,500 up to $10,000.

Get help from DiCindio Law

Being convicted of a DUI will result in serious penalties. You should talk to an experienced defense attorney at DiCindio Law to learn about your rights and the options that you might have. Schedule a consultation by filling out our contact form or by calling us at 610.430.3535.

What are the different types of DUI offenses?

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

General Impairment DUI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DUI – Controlled Substances

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

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

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

Baby DUI

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

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

Commercial or school bus driver DUI

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

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

Get help from an experienced DUI attorney

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

Will I do jail time for my first DUI in PA?

Being charged with a first DUI offense involving alcohol or drugs can be scary. If you are facing charges for a DUI in Pennsylvania, you are likely worried about how a conviction might affect you in the future. You may be worried about the possibility of being sentenced to serve time in jail. DUI offenses are serious, and it can be frightening when you do not know what to expect in the court process. Whether you might be sentenced to jail for a first offense will depend on your blood alcohol concentration and other factors. DiCindio Law can explain the penalties that you might face and help to defend you against the charges you are facing.

DUI penalties and your BAC in Pennsylvania

Under Pennsylvania law, the penalties for a DUI differ based on the BAC of the driver at the time of his or her arrest. A BAC level from 0.08% to 0.099% is considered to constitute general impairment. First DUI offenses for general impairment typically do not include jail time by themselves. However, if you caused an injury or fatality accident or refused to submit to a breath, urine, or blood test, you could end up spending time in jail. If you are younger than 21, you could face a jail sentence for up to six months even if your BAC was much lower than the general impairment offense range.

Pennsylvania changed the DUI laws in 2004. It lowered the threshold BAC level to 0.08 in response to federal law. The federal government said that states could only receive federal money for highways if they lowered the threshold level to 0.08. Pennsylvania also reduced the penalties for first offenses and increased the penalties for subsequent convictions. The state also passed increased penalties for people who have higher BACs at the time of their arrests.

In Pennsylvania, DUIs are divided into three tiers that are based on the BAC levels of the defendants. The tiers are called general impairment DUI offenses, high rate of alcohol DUI offenses, and highest rate DUI offenses. Most people refer to the top two tiers as middle and high to make them easier to understand.

General impairment DUI offenses are charged when the drivers have BAC results from 0.08% to 0.99%. High BAC DUIs are charged when the drivers’ BAC results are from 0.10% to 0.159%. The highest BAC offense includes BAC results of 0.16% or higher. Drivers who refuse to submit to chemical tests will be charged with general impairment DUIs. However, they will face the same penalties as people who are charged with the highest offense level. All DUIs involving drugs are charged as the highest rate DUI offenses even when the drivers only have trace amounts of drugs in their blood and are much less impaired than drivers who have BACs in the middle offense range.

To make the sentences for DUIs more consistent across the state, convictions for DUIs have mandatory minimum sentences. The mandatory minimum sentences for first-offense general impairment DUIs include the following:

  • Probation of up to six months
  • Minimum fine of $300
  • Alcohol classes
  • Alcohol treatment if ordered by the court

A first offense of a general impairment DUI does not carry mandatory jail or the suspension of your driver’s license.

The mandatory minimum penalties for a middle-tier DUI offense include the following:

  • Jail for 48 hours with six months of parole
  • Driver’s license suspension of one year
  • Mandatory fine ranging from $500 to $5,000
  • DUI classes

The penalties for a first offense for the highest BAC level include the following:

  • Minimum of 72 hours in jail with six months of parole
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for one year
  • Fine ranging from $1,000 to $5,000
  • Alcohol classes

Most people who are charged with first-offense DUIs choose to participate in the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition or ARD program. This program allows people to reduce the consequences of a DUI conviction. If you successfully complete the ARD program, you will not be sentenced to jail and will have a shorter suspension of your driver’s license. People who successfully complete the ARD program will have their DUI charges dismissed, which means that they will not have a DUI conviction on their records. You can also ask an attorney for help with expunging a DUI record after you have completed the ARD program. Expungement can be very important for people who are entering the job market as well as for adults who want to switch jobs.

Get help from an experienced DUI attorney

The best method for dealing with DUIs is to simply avoid driving your vehicle after you have consumed alcohol or drugs. If you want to go out, you should plan to take public transportation, a cab, or a ride-share. If you drive yourself to a bar, ask if you can leave your car in the parking lot. You should never think that you will be okay to drive home after you have been drinking. Doing so places both you and others around you on the roads at risk.

If you have been charged with a DUI as a first offense, getting help from an experienced defense attorney at DiCindio Law can help you to determine the options that might be available to you. We can evaluate your case and provide you with an assessment of the defenses that might be available. Contact us today to schedule a consultation by calling us at (610) 430-3535 or by submitting your information on our contact form.

What are Pennsylvania’s open container laws?

Drunk driving is one offense that can lead to a run-in with the law, but what about having an open container in your vehicle? Most states, including Pennsylvania, have open container laws that prohibit drivers and their passengers from drinking or possessing an open container of alcohol in a vehicle. Although Pennsylvania open container laws (codified at 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3809) are not complex, there are certain aspects of the law that are commonly misconstrued. Let’s look further into Pennsylvania’s open container laws.

Understanding Pennsylvania’s open container laws

It is important to understand Pennsylvania’s open container laws before you plan on transporting any alcohol within the state. Two important things to remember are:

  1. The open container laws apply regardless of whether the vehicle is moving or parked.
  2. An open container does not necessarily have to be consumed in order to be in violation of Pennsylvania open container laws.

Violations of these laws can result in criminal charges filed against you.

What constitutes an open container?

Generally, an open container is defined as an alcoholic beverage that:

  • has been previously opened
  • has a broken seal, or
  • has had some of the contents removed
  • Possessing an open container while driving sober

It is against the law for you to drive your vehicle with an open container present in your vehicle, even if you are not drinking. You may, however, legally transport a sealed alcohol container in the passenger area of your vehicle.

If you purchased a bottle of wine at a restaurant, it is lawful for you to transport the bottle home as long as it has been properly resealed. However, it is not advisable that you do so because it may cause issues if you were to be pulled over by a police officer.

If you would like to transport other previously opened containers, you may transport them in the trunk of your vehicle. The key is they must be well out of reach of the passenger area of the vehicle. If you do not have a trunk, then they can be stored in a secured, locked container.

Possessing an open container while driving drunk

It is illegal to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol in the state of Pennsylvania. If an officer tests your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) and it is .08 or higher, then you are considered legally drunk, and you may be charged with a DUI. If you are caught driving drunk with an open container at your reach, you may face even more severe charges. Penalties and fines vary and are also based on prior offenses.

Possessing an open container as a passenger

Pennsylvania’s open container laws apply to both drivers and any passengers. Sometimes, passengers don’t realize that they are in violation of any laws, because they think that as long as they aren’t driving the car, that it shouldn’t matter if they drink. That is most definitely not true. As a passenger in violation of the law, you can face hefty fines. Additionally, everyone in the vehicle is subject to being penalized as well.

Possessing an open container as a bus or commercial vehicle driver

If you hold a commercial license and are found to be in violation of Pennsylvania’s open container laws while operating a commercial vehicle, you may face severe repercussions. Not only will you be held liable legally, but your employer may also be held liable for allowing you to drive in violation of the law. You may face license suspension as well as job loss.

Pennsylvania has a zero tolerance policy for school bus drivers in violation of open container laws. If you are found to be in violation of these laws, then you will immediately lose your job along with other penalties such as fines, license suspension, and possible jail time.

Possessing an open container in a vehicle designed for passenger transportation

We’ve talked about many of the violations associated with Pennsylvania’s open container laws, but there are also some exceptions to the law. Although anyone operating a vehicle cannot consume alcohol, a passenger of a bus, taxi, or limousine can legally possess or consume an open container of an alcoholic beverage. The alcohol must be in the back of the vehicle where the driver does not have access to it. Additionally, vehicles like a camper or a recreational vehicle (RV) are legally allowed to have open containers of alcohol as long as it is kept in the living quarters and away from the driver.

Being charged with an open container violation

Although a police officer does not need a warrant to search your vehicle, they must have probable cause to believe that you had an open container in your vehicle. They cannot illegally pull you over and search your vehicle.

Penalties of violating Pennsylvania’s open container law

If you violate Pennsylvania’s open container laws, then you are subject to penalties and fines. Violations are considered a summary offense. A summary offense is a fine of $500 and punishable up to 90 days in jail. You may also face license suspension.

Possible defenses

It is important to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer, who can review the facts and circumstances surrounding your case and point out possible defenses. If the officer conducted an illegal search of the vehicle, then a skilled attorney may be able to have the search and evidence against you deemed inadmissible. If you were a passenger and were completely unaware that there was an open container in the vehicle, then you may have a possible defense. There are several different defenses that may be applicable to you. An experienced attorney is able to negotiate on your behalf and may be able to lessen your penalties.

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

10 Things You Need To Know About DUI in PA

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

1. You should know the basics of the DUI Process

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

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

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

2. Pennsylvania has mandatory jail sentences

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

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

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

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

3. You need an attorney

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. You will have to appear in court

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

5. Your license will most likely be suspended

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

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

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

7. You will pay a hefty fine

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

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

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

9. You may have to go to drunk driving school

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

10. Your car insurance rates will likely be raised

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

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

Get The Facts About Your Third Offense DUI

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

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

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

What are the penalties for a third DUI conviction?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What to do after you have been charged

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

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

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

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

Potential defenses

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

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

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

Contact DiCindio Law

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

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.