Driving under the influence (DUI) brings many individuals who may have made a one-time mistake into the criminal justice system. In addition to concerns about losing driving privileges and potentially hefty fines, those with no experience with incarceration often worry that they’re ill-prepared to serve a jail sentence.
In the state of Pennsylvania, the penalties associated with a first-time DUI depend largely on each defendant’s unique case and the circumstances surrounding their arrest. While spending time in jail is a realistic possibility, there are certain programs provided by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that offer alternatives to incarceration, including Pennsylvania’s Accelerated Rehabilitation Diversion program, drug courts, and drug and alcohol treatment programs.
An experienced DUI defense lawyer who understands Pennsylvania criminal defense law may be able to help you avoid time in jail or potentially eliminate your charges altogether.
What Happens After a DUI Arrest in Montgomery County?
If a police officer pulls you over in Montgomery County and suspects you of driving under the influence, they’ll likely ask you to complete a series of field sobriety tests. Your performance on these tests will help the officer determine whether or not to arrest you. If the officer can establish probable cause that you were driving under the influence, you’ll be detained, processed, and asked to submit to a blood alcohol content (BAC) test. Because Pennsylvania has an implied consent law, you’re required to submit to BAC testing when you’ve been taken into custody on suspicions of drunk driving.
After your release from custody, the court will send you a summons in the mail. This document will tell you when to appear for a preliminary hearing. If you want to retain an attorney, it’s a good idea to hire them before this hearing. Your lawyer will review the evidence in your case and advise you about your available options and the defenses you can implement to avoid any potential jail time.
What Are the Penalties Associated With a First-Time DUI in Montgomery County?
In the state of Pennsylvania, DUI penalties are categorized according to the driver’s BAC at the time of their arrest. The legal limit for any Pennsylvania driver is 0.08 percent, meaning that any driver whose BAC is in excess of that level can face increasingly more severe consequences if convicted.
- A BAC between 0.08 percent and 0.09 percent constitutes “general impairment.” The penalties associated with a first-time arrest of this nature include six months of probation and a fine of $300.
- A BAC between 0.10 percent and 0.159 percent constitutes an offense classified as “high rate,” and the driver may face incarceration between 48 hours and six months, a fine between $500 and $5,000, and a 12-month license suspension.
- A BAC of 0.16 percent or higher constitutes an offense classified as “highest rate.” The driver may be subject to imprisonment between 72 hours and six months, a fine between $1,000 and $5,000, and a 12-month license suspension.
What Are the Alternatives to Jail Time in Montgomery County?
Whether you go to jail for your DUI arrest depends on your BAC level, any prior convictions you may have, and whether you’re actually sentenced. If your BAC was between 0.08 percent and 0.09 percent and this is your first offense, you may not face jail time.
For those with a higher BAC, you may face greater consequences, but an expert lawyer may be able to help you replace your prison sentence with certain alcohol-related programs like Pennsylvania’s ARD Program, participation in drug court, and contribution to a drug or alcohol treatment program.
Pennsylvania’s ARD Program
If you are arrested for DUI and have no prior record, it’s important to note that first-time offenders may participate in Pennsylvania’s Accelerated Rehabilitation Diversion (ARD) Program. This course is unique to first-time offenders who have no prior criminal convictions and serves to treat and rehabilitate those individuals and effectively remove their cases from the criminal justice system.
Participation in Drug Court
Like many state judicial systems around the country, Pennsylvania has a system of drug courts for offenses that involve drugs or alcohol, including DUI. These programs require intensive supervision based on frequent drug testing, court appearances, and tightly structured treatment and recovery services.
Participation in a Drug or Alcohol Treatment Program
If you’re willing to participate in a drug or alcohol treatment program, a sentencing judge may consider allowing you to do so in lieu of imprisonment. These programs are meant to foster a driver’s understanding of their legal and moral responsibility in a positive, non-judgmental environment. The DUI program provides useful tools for relapse prevention and intends to help drivers comprehend and accept their responsibility to stay sober.
Contact an Experienced DUI Defense Lawyer in Montgomery County
If you’ve been arrested for DUI and are worried about serving time, it’s important that you act quickly and contact an attorney following your arrest. The Pennsylvania DUI defense attorneys at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, P.C., understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we’re dedicated to fighting for your rights and protecting your interests throughout the legal process. Our highly trusted and well-versed legal team understands the ins and outs of Montgomery County DUI defense law and will be with you every step of the way.
For nearly 68 years, the attorneys at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford have been serving the legal needs of clients in Montgomery County, Bucks County, Lehigh County, Chester County, Delaware County, and throughout the surrounding areas. We’ve earned the trust and respect of clients facing a wide range of legal problems, including DUI charges. Our attorneys are ready to protect you and guard your rights. Give us a call at (215) 822-7575 or complete our online contact form today.