If you have recently been arrested for drunk or drugged driving for the first time, it is very likely that you just had one of the most traumatic and scary experiences of your life. If your arrest was a typical DUI arrest, you were questioned, pressured to provide a breath sample, handcuffed, and put into a jail cell, and given little information about what to do next other than receiving a citation telling you when you will need to appear in court.
A DUI arrest can leave you scared, confused, and with many questions about what will happen. Fortunately, you do not have to go through this alone, and a lawyer can help guide you through the process and make sure that your rights and future are protected. At The Zeiger Firm, clients who come to us after a first-time DUI arrest often ask many of the same questions. Here are some answers to some of the most frequently asked questions that we hear. For more information, call our office today.
What Are the Potential Consequences I Am Facing?
The legal penalties that you are facing for a 1st time DUI offense in Pennsylvania depend on the facts of your case and what your blood alcohol content (BAC) was at the time of your arrest. Here are some of the potential consequences that can be imposed based on various BAC measurements:
- BAC between .08 and .10 – Six months of probation, a $300 fine, alcohol safety school, and treatment
- BAC between .10 and .16 – A 12-month license suspension, 2 days to 6 months in prison, a fine of $500 to $5,000, alcohol highway safety school, and treatment
- BAC higher than .16 – A 12-month license suspension 3 days to 6 months in prison, a fine of $1,000 to $5,000, alcohol safety school, and treatment
Is My Case Going to Go to Trial?
Whether or not your case goes to trial depends on a number of factors. That being said, the vast majority of DUI cases are resolved through the plea bargain process in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty in return for the prosecutor recommending a more lenient sentence. In cases that go to trial, there is generally a factual dispute about an issue critical to the case or questions regarding the veracity of the arresting officer’s narrative.
How Will This Affect My Life?
The extent to which a DUI case will affect your life depends on how your case is resolved. Of course, if your case is dropped, dismissed, or you are acquitted, you can go on with your life as it was before your arrest occurred. If you accept a plea deal or are convicted, you will have to do certain things in order to comply with your sentence and will have to pay fines and court costs. If a conviction is entered into your record (which does not always occur, even if you plead guilty), you may need to inform potential employers, landlords, or other parties about the fact that you have been convicted of a crime.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
This one is easy. Everyone that has been arrested for drunk driving should retain an attorney, regardless of whether it is their first alleged or offense or their fourth. An attorney can spot weaknesses in the prosecution’s case against you that may result in it being dropped or dismissed. Some of the more common defenses raised in Pennsylvania DUI cases include the following:
- Establishing that the breathalyzer was not properly calibrated
- Showing that you have a medical condition that can cause inaccurately high breath test results or mimic other signs of intoxication
- Challenging the initial traffic stop as unconstitutional
- Impeaching the credibility of the police officer that arrested you
Even in cases where there are no legal defenses, an attorney can work with the prosecutor handling your case and often negotiate a favorable plea agreement. In many cases, first-time offenders can participate in an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program that will not result in a DUI conviction if is successfully completed.
Call Philadelphia DUI Defense Attorney Brian Zeiger Today
A DUI conviction can have a negative impact on nearly every aspect of your life, so you should always do everything possible to protect your rights and resolve your case as favorably as possible. The first step to take is to call a lawyer who has experience defending people accused of drunk driving and who has a track-record of success. To schedule a free consultation with a Philadelphia criminal defense attorney, call Brian Zeiger today at 215-546-0340 send us an email through our online contact form.