Are DUI/DWI roadblocks and sobriety checkpoints legal?

In Pennsylvania, you can be charged with a DUI after you are stopped at a DUI checkpoint and found to be under the influence of alcohol. DUI checkpoints are controversial, but they are legal in Pennsylvania as long as they are conducted properly. DUI checkpoints are stationary and well-marked and are conducted by law enforcement officers over several hours. The officers do not need reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle at a checkpoint. Instead, they must rely on a predetermined standard for who to pull over when people drive through the checkpoint. If you have been charged with a DUI after being pulled over at a DUI checkpoint, the legal team at DiCindio Law in West Chester is available to help.

How DUI checkpoints work in Pennsylvania

DUI checkpoints must be planned by police administrators and not by the police officers themselves. The police must advertise the DUI checkpoint in the media and with signs. The administrators must choose an objective standard to determine which vehicles to stop. For example, the administrators might decide that every 10th vehicle will be stopped or use some other objective standard.

When you drive through a DUI checkpoint, the police might stop you if you meet the predetermined objective standard. If you are stopped, you must roll down your window to talk to the officer. He or she might ask you if you have been drinking. If you say yes, or if the officer makes observations that lead him or her to believe that you have been drinking, you might be asked to move forward to the second area of the checkpoint. Once you are there, you will be asked to perform field sobriety tests.

Under Pennsylvania law, you have the right to refuse the field sobriety tests and the preliminary breath test, which are tests that are performed at the roadside. You also do not have to answer questions other than requests for your license, name, insurance, and registration. If you are asked other questions, you can politely refuse to answer. Do not give any information beyond your basic contact details without talking to an attorney. Anything that you say to the police can be used by the prosecutor in the case against you. If you are arrested, you will be asked to submit to a breath or blood test. Unlike the field sobriety tests and the PBT, you do not have the right to refuse these post-arrest tests. Refusing to submit to a breath or blood test will result in a suspension of your license and other penalties. The prosecutor will also be allowed to use your refusal as evidence against you at trial.

If you can avoid a DUI checkpoint lawfully, you can do so. For example, if you see a sign for a checkpoint ahead and have an opportunity to turn off of the road onto a side street or into a parking lot, you can do it. The officers will not have any reason to stop you for legally turning around or turning onto a side street. However, they might still try. However, your attorney might successfully get any charges thrown out if you were stopped merely because an officer had a hunch that you might be driving drunk but has not developed reasonable suspicion to support the stop.

Are DUI checkpoints constitutional?

In Michigan Dept. of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444 (1990), the U.S. Supreme Court held that DUI checkpoints are constitutional and are not illegal searches and seizures. The court held that DUI checkpoint stops are lawful because the public’s interest outweighed the intrusion of the stop.

In Pennsylvania, DUI checkpoints are allowed under 75 Pa.C.S. § 6308(b). This statute authorizes police to stop vehicles either during a systematic program or when they have reasonable suspicion to believe a violation has occurred. Since the statute includes a reference to a systematic program, this statute has been interpreted as giving legal authority to establish DUI checkpoints in Pennsylvania. The state will have the burden of proof that the checkpoint was conducted constitutionally, however.

When is a DUI checkpoint legal?

For a DUI checkpoint to be legal in Pennsylvania, the police must adhere to guidelines that have been created that govern how the checkpoint must be established and conducted. To determine whether a specific checkpoint was legal, the court will look at how intrusive it was and whether the police followed specific procedures in a non-discriminatory way.

When a DUI checkpoint does not fully comply with the guidelines, an experienced DUI defense lawyer will file a motion to suppress all of the evidence that was gathered. Your lawyer might look at the following factors to determine whether the checkpoint and stop were constitutional:

  • Whether your stop was brief or lengthy
  • Whether the public was notified in advance of the checkpoint
  • Who was involved in deciding to set up the checkpoint
  • The statistical information and documents that were used to decide to conduct the DUI checkpoint at its location
  • Whether there is evidence that the checkpoint had prior administrative approval
  • Whether the police followed an objective guideline for determining which cars to stop
  • How the police conducted the checkpoint
  • Why the officer decided to request SFTs
  • The names and employment affiliations of all of the officers who participated in the checkpoint

After reviewing all of this information, your attorney will be able to provide you with guidance about your options.

Get help from DiCindio Law

Being stopped and arrested for a DUI at a DUI checkpoint can be frightening. If you are facing charges, an attorney from DiCindio Law can help you by determining whether the checkpoint was conducted lawfully. Your lawyer can then talk to you about the best way to proceed. Contact our law firm today to schedule a consultation by filling out our contact form or calling us at 610.430.3535.

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 There A Difference Between DUI And DWI In Pennsylvania?

In many cases in Pennsylvania, drivers who are charged with DUIs first realize that they are about to be arrested when police officers turn on their flashing lights to pull them over. The police officers may have pulled them over because they were weaving or speeding, or they may simply have had something wrong with their vehicles such as a burned-out turn signal or taillight. Once the drivers are stopped, the officers may then suspect them of drinking and driving because of observations that they make. The drivers might have bloodshot, watery eyes, speak with slurred speech or smell of alcohol. The officers might then ask them to take standardized field sobriety tests, and if the drivers fail to perform the SFSTs to the satisfaction of the officers, they will likely be arrested.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a majority of drunk-driving arrests are first offenses. Most first-time DUI offenders do not know the court process or the options that might be available to them. They also might not understand the penalties that they might face. If you are facing charges of driving under the influence, getting help from an experienced DUI defense attorney at DiCindio Law might help you to navigate through the legal process.

Is there a difference between a DUI, a DWI, and an OWI?

Driving under the influence is labeled differently in different states. In Pennsylvania, the correct term is a DUI, which stands for driving under the influence. In other states, the offense might be labeled as a DWI, which can stand for driving while intoxicated or driving while impaired. Other states label the offense as an OWI or an OUI, which stands for operating while impaired or intoxicated or operating under the influence, respectively.

In Pennsylvania, the only acronym that is used is DUI. This term can refer to driving under the influence of alcohol or driving under the influence of drugs.

Regardless of the particular acronym that might be used, every state characterizes a driving under the influence of alcohol offense as occurring when someone drives with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher. If you are pulled over and have a BAC that tests at this level, you can be taken into custody and charged with drunk driving. The potential consequences of a conviction vary from state to state. Within Pennsylvania, the consequences also vary based on your level of impairment as measured by your BAC.

Pennsylvania divides DUI offenses into three levels as follows:

  • General impairment DUI- BAC from 0.08% to 0.099%
  • High DUI- BAC from 0.10% to 0.159%
  • Highest DUI- BAC from 0.16% and higher

There are also different laws for certain classes of drivers. Under Pennsylvania’s zero tolerance law, drivers under the age of 21 can be charged with a DUI if they have any alcohol in their systems. School bus drivers have a legal limit of 0.02% BAC, and other CDL drivers have a legal limit of 0.04% BAC. This means that if you fall into one of these categories, you can be charged with a DUI even though your blood alcohol content is much lower than the minimum for other drivers.

Driving under the influence of drugs

In Pennsylvania, you can be charged with a DUI if you drive while you are under the influence of drugs. When an officer pulls you over and suspects that you are under the influence of drugs, he or she might call an officer who is trained in identifying signs of drug impairment. You may be arrested if you fail this screening and asked to submit to a blood test. While the procedures might be different than they are for alcohol, you can still be charged with a DUI if you are under the influence of drugs. This offense can be charged even if you are under the influence of a legally prescribed drug such as a painkiller.

You can be charged with a DUI offense involving drugs if you have a schedule 1 drug metabolite in your blood. You can also be charged if the officer thinks that you are under the influence of alcohol and drugs to the extent that you are unable to safely drive. An officer might charge you with a DUI involving drugs if he or she believes that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol but you test negative for alcohol on a preliminary breath test on the roadside.

It is important to keep in mind that tests for chemical substances are not infallible. They may be improperly administered. Some roadside drug tests have been demonstrated to be unreliable. The New York Times has reported that many innocent people have been arrested after faulty roadside drug tests returned false positives, for example. Getting a positive result on a roadside drug test might mean that you will be arrested, but it does not necessarily mean that you will be convicted of a DUI involving drugs. An experienced DUI defense attorney at DiCindio Law might help you to challenge the faulty results.

One important thing to note about driving under the influence of drugs charge in Pennsylvania is that it is charged as a highest-BAC DUI. This means that you will face the penalties that come with the highest-BAC DUI even if the amount of drugs that were in your blood was not enough to truly impair you. An experienced lawyer might be able to successfully defend against this charge by identifying the defenses that might be available to you.

Contact DiCindio Law

If you have been stopped and charged with DUI, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer who has handled numerous DUI cases. Michael DiCindio of Dicindio Law is a former prosecutor and an experienced criminal defense lawyer who understands this offense from both sides. This allows him to anticipate the arguments that the prosecutor might raise so that he can effectively counter them. Call us today to schedule a free consultation by calling 610.430.3535. You can also contact us online by filling out our online contact form.

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.

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

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

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

Drivers and employers that may be covered by FMCSA regulations

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

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

FMCSA and Pennsylvania blood-alcohol limits

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

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

Alcohol and drug testing for commercial drivers

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

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

Penalties for a commercial DUI

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

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

The importance of getting legal help for your commercial DUI case

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

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

What Is the Difference Between DUI and DWI?

You might have heard the acronyms DUI and DWI used interchangeably. DUI stands for driving under the influence. DWI may stand for driving while intoxicated or driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol. Depending on the state, these two terms can refer to the same offense or can have different legal definitions.

In all states, being charged with a DUI or a DWI means that you are being charged with an offense that is serious. DUI offenses mean that you are facing charges of engaging in conduct that risks your own safety as well as that of others. DUI offenses can be charged when you have been driving after drinking alcohol, using recreational drugs, or driving after you have taken certain prescription medications that cause your driving ability to be impaired. No matter what your charge might be called, it can have a major impact on your life. At DiCindio Law, we represent people who are facing Pennsylvania DUI charges to help them to secure the most favorable resolutions to their cases.

DUI and DWI definitions

The definitions of what constitutes a DUI and what constitutes a DWI vary from state to state. In some states, a DUI refers to driving after drinking alcohol. In others, it might refer to driving under the impairment of drugs. Some states use DUI as a term for a lower level of impairment while a DWI refers to a higher level of impairment. Other states have that reversed. Some states only use one acronym or the other to refer to alcohol- and drug-related driving offenses. It can become tricky when a state uses both terms.

OUI and OWI

Some states use different acronyms all together for drunk driving. For example, three states, including Massachusetts, Maine, and Rhode Island, use the acronym OUI. OWI is used to refer to operating while intoxicated in some locations.

DUI in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania uses the term DUI. While people may use the terms DUI and DWI interchangeably in the state, they both refer to the same statute.  Pennsylvania law divides DUI offenses into three levels, according to the level of intoxication as measured by the blood alcohol concentration. A general impairment DUI offense describes a BAC of 0.08 to 0.099. A high BAC DUI refers a DUI with a BAC of 0.10% to 0.159%. A highest BAC DUI offense refers to a BAC of 0.16% or higher. The penalties for these different levels of DUI offenses vary.

Despite the different tiers of DUI offenses in Pennsylvania, your blood alcohol concentration is not the sole factor in determining whether you were driving while you were impaired by alcohol or drugs. Being charged with a DUI can occur if an officer has a reasonable belief that you were too impaired to drive. This means that you can be charged with a DUI offense even if you do not submit to testing or when the officer believes that you were impaired. For instance, if the officer observes signs that you are impaired such as bloodshot eyes, a smell of alcohol, slurred speech, an unsteady gate, and other indicators of impairment, you may be charged.

Drugged driving is considered to be impaired driving

You can be charged with a DUI offense even if you submit to a preliminary breath test at the side of the road that is negative for the presence of alcohol. Because of the observations that the officer has made, he or she might believe that you are under the influence of another substance that may be impairing your ability to drive. This can include illegal drugs, over-the-counter medications, and prescription drugs that you are legally prescribed to take. The officer who stopped you is able to call a drug recognition expert to come to the scene who can perform some different tests.

It is important for you to read the warning labels on all over-the-counter and prescription medications that you take before you get behind the wheel. If you don’t, you may be at risk of being charged with a DUI regardless of the legality of your medication.

Consequences of a DUI arrest

If you are arrested and charged for a DUI, you may face serious penalties. Depending on your BAC, the penalties may be more severe for higher levels. If you are convicted of a DUI or enter a guilty plea, you may lose your driving privileges, be assessed penalties and court fees, face time in jail, be ordered to attend alcohol classes, and other penalties. You might also be placed on probation and be required to perform community service hours.

You may be required to submit to an assessment of your substance use or drinking and to follow any recommendations that are made from this assessment. Beyond these penalties, you might also face some collateral consequences such as losing your job, having trouble finding a new job, being embarrassed, and having a criminal record. Your insurance premiums will also likely increase for several years, and you might have to have an ignition interlock device installed in every vehicle that you drive at your own expense.

Regardless of what the offense might be called, getting arrested and charged for a DUI can be very expensive and time-consuming. You can avoid these types of charges by not getting behind the wheel when you are impaired. If you have been charged, it is a good idea to get legal help as soon as possible. At DiCindio Law, we can review your charges and help you to understand the legal options that might be available to you. Call us today to schedule a consultation, or fill out our online contact form.

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 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

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Rule 600 in Pennsylvania

The wheels of justice turn slowly. An old saying that we who practice in the criminal defense field think about weekly – if not daily. Even though the slow crawl that criminal cases sometimes take is to be expected at times, it is important to understand that as an individual charged with a crime in the state of Pennsylvania, you have a right to a prompt trial and resolution to your case.

Criminal Defense Chester County

West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer

First, it must be noted that the prompt trial rule or “Rule 600” is different than the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the amount of time that the government has to CHARGE an individual with a crime or forever be barred from doing so. Rule 600 and the prompt trial requirements instead deal with the amount of time the government has to prosecute a person once they have been charged.

There are two main portions of Rule 600. First, that the government has 365 days to commence trial once charges have been brought. If they do not do that, a motion must be filed by the defense and the charges will be dismissed with prejudice if a violation of this time limit has been found by the Court. Second, no person may be held in custody on bail for longer than 180 from the commencement of the prosecution. If this occurs the defense must file a motion and if a violation is found by the Court the defendant will be placed on nominal bail.

Obviously, this is subject to limitations and the unique circumstances of each case dictate the strength of a Rule 600 motion. For example, one of the main limitations is that time extensions requested by the defense or not attributable to the prosecution are not counted in the 365 or 180 day time period – among other things.

If you or a loved one believe that you may have a prompt trial issue or if you have been charged with a criminal offense at all, contact Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. at DiCindio Law, LLC for all of your criminal needs and begin preparing your defense today.

 

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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, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale