As summer is in full swing in Philadelphia, many people are headed to festivals, concerts, holiday celebrations, parks, lakes, and other similar locations to enjoy the warm weather and socialize with family and friends. We all know that many of these gatherings involve drinking alcohol and, of course, law enforcement officers are also well aware of this fact. While there is nothing illegal about getting together and having a couple drinks to enjoy summer, you can face serious criminal charges if you then decide to try to drive home. Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs[1] is a common charge in Philadelphia criminal courts and can carry serious penalties that can have a lasting effect on many aspects of your life. 

Increased enforcement efforts for summer

Because law enforcement officers across the state are aware of the increased consumption of alcohol during the warmer months, many agencies have initiated enforcement campaigns specifically targeting DUIs and other dangerous driving behaviors, such as not wearing your seat belt. Local campaigns are often in association with the Pennsylvania State Police[2] and/or the Department of Transportation. Enforcement efforts are especially heightened over key summer holiday weekends, including Memorial Day weekend, 4th of July weekend, and Labor Day weekend. Additionally, law enforcement agencies select random weekends throughout the summer to increase efforts.

Simply increasing patrol cars on the streets of Philly is one way police attempt to catch more drunk drivers. These officers are specifically trained to look for a variety of “cues” that may indicate that a driver is under the influence. These cues may include:

  • Driving without headlights on
  • Erratic braking
  • Overly wide turns
  • Following other vehicles too closely
  • Driving significantly over or under the speed limit

In addition to watching for the above cues, police departments will plan sobriety checkpoints throughout the summer. These checkpoints are legal in Pennsylvania though officers are required to follow certain procedures to avoid violating the constitutional rights of drivers. Too often, proper procedures are not followed and any violations of your rights can be used in your favor if you face a subsequent DUI case.

Effects of a DUI conviction in Philadelphia

Many people may mistakenly believe that a DUI is not a serious offense and that they do not need a criminal defense lawyer to represent them in their case. However, these individuals may not realize the wide range of potential consequences that can accompany a conviction for DUI. Common consequences that individuals may face can include the following:

  • Fines and court costs
  • Suspension of your driver’s license
  • Mandatory alcohol evaluation, education classes, or treatment
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID)[3] on your vehicle
  • Probation
  • Time in jail
  • Community service
  • Restitution for any damage or injury caused in a DUI accident

Having a DUI conviction can be costly and can significantly limit your ability to get to work, school, or other important obligations. If you have an ignition interlock device on your car, it can affect your reputation with family, friends, or anyone else who needs to ride in your vehicle.

In addition to limiting your personal transportation and affecting your personal reputation, a DUI conviction can also cause professional issues, as well. For example, if you are required to drive at all as part of your job responsibilities, you may be terminated if you have lost your license or need an IID to legally drive. This is especially true for commercial drivers who can lose their commercial driver’s license for an extended period of time following a DUI.

Contact an experienced DUI defense attorney in Philadelphia for help today

Because of the serious effects a DUI conviction may have, you should always consult with a criminal defense attorney who has experience defending DUI cases in Philadelphia. Brian Zeiger has represented many individuals in DUI cases and always develops an individualized, aggressive defense strategy in every case. If you are arrested on suspicion of DUI at a checkpoint or due to another type of traffic stop, your first call should be to The Zeiger Firm for assistance. We can immediately start working to protect your rights, fully investigate your case, raise any relevant legal defenses, and help you avoid conviction whenever possible. Contact us by calling 215-546-0340 for help today.

References:

[1] http://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/LI/CT/HTM/75/00.038.002.000..HTM
[2] http://www.psp.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx#.VXnuEM_BzGc
[3] http://www.dmv.state.pa.us/pdotforms/fact_sheets/fs-pub7214.pdf

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