Frequently Asked Questions About Drunk Driving in PA

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

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

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

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

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

Do I need to hire a DUI defense attorney?

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

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

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

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

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

Can an officer stop me without a valid reason?

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

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

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

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

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

What if I was taking legally prescribed medication?

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

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