For many of us, the holidays are a time filled with family, friends, and social gatherings, many of which often involve the consumption of alcohol. Law enforcement is aware of this fact and tends to increase driving under the influence [1] (DUI) enforcement efforts during the holidays in order to dissuade people from drunk driving and to catch those who violate the law. People who are caught drinking and driving this holiday season will be facing extremely serious legal consequences, even for a first-time offense. In addition, these kinds of increased enforcement campaigns have the potential to result in over-zealous policing, which can often result in innocent drivers being accused of alcohol-related offenses that they did not commit. For this reason, anyone who is arrested on suspicion of driving while drunk this holiday season should contact an experienced Philadelphia DUI defense attorney as soon as possible.

What are the potential consequences of a DUI?

Many people are under the mistaken impression that a first-time DUI offense is not a serious matter and can be handled without the assistance of an attorney. In reality, any allegation of drunk driving is serious and could result in significant consequences imposed by the court. These potential consequences include the following:

· Probation

· Mandatory drug and alcohol counseling

· The installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle

· Fines

· Jail time

While these consequences are bad enough on their own, less commonly discussed are the collateral consequences that often accompany a DUI. As used here, “collateral consequences” refers to the consequences of a DUI conviction that are not imposed by the court. For example, under certain circumstances, a person who is convicted of a DUI could face discipline from his or her employer, including termination. Additionally, educational institutions often have student codes of conduct that prohibit their students from engaging in certain types of conduct, including drinking and driving. As a result, people who are in school could face disciplinary sanctions from their educational institution in addition to those imposed by the court.

Holiday revelers can take steps to avoid inadvertently drinking and driving

Fortunately for people who plan to partake in alcoholic beverages this holiday season, there are certain steps that they can take to avoid the risk that they will misjudge their sobriety level and get behind the wheel when they are above the legal blood alcohol concentration limit. These include the following:

· If you plan to drink, designate a sober driver or plan on using public transportation to get to and from your destination

· Save the number of a local cab company or two in your phone

· Make plans to spend the night at your destination or make arrangements to go home with a sober driver

· If you plan on consuming alcohol and driving, make sure that you drink slowly and wait an appropriate amount of time after your last driving and getting behind the wheel

Legal defenses are often available

Thankfully for people who are accused of drunk driving, there are often legal defenses available. Some of the defenses that are often raised in DUI cases include:

· Introducing evidence that indicates that any signs of intoxication observed by law enforcement were actually the result of a medical condition

· Establishing that the officer that pulled you over lacked reasonable suspicion to stop you

· Challenging the accuracy of any chemical testing that may have been performed

· Establishing that the officer that performed a field sobriety or breathalyzer testing was not properly trained to do so

Whether any of these defenses apply to you case depends on a variety of factors, so it is important for anyone that has been accused of drunk driving to talk to an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.

Contact a Philadelphia DUI defense lawyer today to schedule a free consultation

A DUI conviction has the potential to have an extremely negative impact on your life. Not only could you be subject to the legal consequences imposed by the court, but you could also face adverse actions taken by your employer or school, not to mention the general damage to your reputation a conviction can have. As a result, it is extremely important for anyone accused of drunk or drugged driving to retain an attorney who familiar with Pennsylvania law. [2]

Attorney Brian Zeiger is a skilled Philadelphia criminal defense attorney who is committed to protecting the legal rights of individuals that have been accused of crimes. Call our office today at 215-546-0340 to schedule a free consultation.

[1] http://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/LI/CT/HTM/75/00.038..HTM

[2] http://www.loc.gov/law/help/guide/states/us-pa.php

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