Montgomery County DUI Lawyers
Though it may feel like the end of the world when you’re arrested for DUI, it doesn’t have to be. With the help of an experienced Montgomery County DUI lawyer, you may be able to sidestep the penalties associated with a conviction. In Pennsylvania, driving under the influence of any mind-altering substance is now called DAI—or “driving after imbibing”—though most people still refer to it as DUI or DWI. Regardless, drunk driving in Pennsylvania is a serious criminal offense with severe penalties that include the loss of your driver’s license, monetary fines, and even jail time. That’s why it is critical that you act quickly following an arrest.
Charged With A DUI And Have Questions? We Can Help, Tell Us What Happened.
The good news is that the experienced DUI lawyers at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg, and Gifford are prepared to help minimize the damages of a DAI arrest. We’ve successfully defended countless clients against drunk driving charges throughout Pennsylvania and, in many cases, have gotten the charges dismissed entirely. Contact us anytime to discuss your Pennsylvania DUI case or to schedule a free consultation at one of our offices in Newtown or Colmar, PA.
Understanding Pennsylvania’s Drunk Driving Laws
In 2003, the Pennsylvania legislature overhauled its drunk driving laws under new state legislation known as Act 24. With the passing of Act 24, the crime of driving under the influence (DUI) was relabeled DAI, or “driving after imbibing.” This legislation also lowered the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to include drivers who consider themselves sober or merely “buzzed.”
Like most other states, Pennsylvania has close to a zero-tolerance policy for drivers operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of any mind-altering substance including alcohol, illegal drugs such as marijuana, and prescription or over-the-counter drugs.
The legal limit for blood alcohol content in Pennsylvania is 0.08%, which means that an individual who only had a couple of drinks before getting behind the wheel could potentially be arrested for DAI. The severity of a DAI sentence depends upon several factors, including the level of your blood alcohol concentration and whether it’s your first offense. Moreover, if you refused a breath test prior to being arrested, you may have created more problems for yourself: you’re likely now facing charges for both DAI and a year-long civil license suspension for your Breath Test Refusal.
Understanding What Occurs During a Drunk Driving Stop in Pennsylvania
Police officers are trained to look for instances in which a driver is erratically driving their vehicle. If they have reasonable suspicion to conduct a stop, they may briefly detain you for the purpose of a limited investigation, including perhaps a field sobriety test or breathalyzer test. Reasonable suspicion is subjective, but law enforcement officials must still have more than a gut feeling or hunch to detain you. This doesn’t mean that they must specifically suspect that you’re under the influence of alcohol. Any potential traffic violation or infraction is enough.
While reasonable suspicion allows an officer to stop and detain a motorist temporarily, a police officer has to meet a higher standard called “probable cause” before securing a warrant, searching a vehicle, or arresting a suspected drunk driver. Determining probable cause means collecting enough evidence that a reasonable person would believe a crime was committed.
Note that even if you were intoxicated while driving, a DUI case against you could be dismissed if the officer didn’t have reasonable suspicion for the initial stop.
Severe Penalties for Drunk Driving in Pennsylvania
A first-time DUI misdemeanor in Pennsylvania can require a mandatory minimum of 48 or 72 hours in jail, though incarceration could last up to six months, depending on other factors. The fines for a first-time DAI offense can also be as high as $5,000, along with a 12-month driver’s license suspension. With multiple convictions and a higher BAC, you could lose your driver’s license for life, serve several years in prison, and pay fines in the tens of thousands of dollars. For specifics on how a DUI affects your driving privileges, review the Pennsylvania Point System Fact Sheet.
With the help of qualified representation from Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg, and Gifford, it may be possible to negotiate reduced charges and a lighter sentence in your DAI case. In many cases, our experienced drunk driving defense lawyers may be able to get your charges dismissed altogether.
Pennsylvania Drunk Driving Defense Lawyers Dispute Breath Test & Blood Test Evidence in DAI Cases
Following your arrest, a skilled drunk driving defense attorney may be able to challenge your DAI charges. For instance, if the arresting officer didn’t have probable cause to stop you—such as in the case of illegal checkpoints or roadblocks—an experienced DUI attorney may be able to dispute whether the police had the right to pull you over in the first place. If it can be proven that they didn’t have the legal grounds to stop you, your DAI charges may be dismissed. Keep in mind that if you weren’t observed committing a crime or traffic violation before being pulled over, the police might not have had the right to stop or question you.
Following a stop for suspicion of drunk driving, police may ask you to perform one of the following tests:
- Field sobriety test: If you appear to be intoxicated, the police may ask you to perform certain field sobriety tests on the side of the road. This can include walking heel to toe in a straight line or standing on one leg.
- Portable breath test: Commonly called a “breathalyzer,” a portable breath test typically requires you to blow into a device so that the officer can acquire a reading of your level of intoxication. Based on the results of this test, an officer may arrest you for drunk driving.
- Blood work: In many cases, after you’re arrested for a DAI, DWI, or DUI in Pennsylvania, you’re taken to a hospital where blood is drawn to more accurately determine your BAC level. You may also be given blood testing if you are injured in a DUI accident.
These are the three most common methods for acquiring evidence intended to prove guilt in Pennsylvania DAI cases. However, it may be possible to prove that the police failed to follow proper policies and procedures during the administering of their DUI tests. It’s also feasible that the breathalyzer was improperly calibrated, causing a false reading. Further, your blood test results may have been inaccurate, or an attorney may be able to show that your body tolerates a higher level of alcohol than the average person, meaning that you weren’t legally intoxicated for purposes of a charge of general impairment.
Alternative Penalties in Pennsylvania DUI Cases
If you’re convicted of a first-time DAI offense in Pennsylvania, your assigned judge may have the discretion to sentence you to an alternative punishment other than incarceration. One such substitute for a first-time, nonviolent offender in Pennsylvania is an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. When you complete this program, your criminal record is expunged. In other cases, if you don’t qualify for the ARD program, an alcohol and drug rehabilitation or treatment facility may be another alternative to jail.
Negotiating on your behalf with the prosecutor and the police officer typically requires the skill of an experienced DAI attorney. Moreover, if your case makes it to trial, it may be in your best interest to have an attorney from Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg, and Gifford present your case to the judge and help you avoid a conviction in the courtroom.
What is the Court Process for a Pennsylvania Drunk Driving Case?
After a Pennsylvania DUI arrest, navigating the criminal court system can be a confusing experience without a knowledgeable Pennsylvania DAI defense lawyer by your side. As such, it’s essential to understand what the court process will entail and what you can expect both at the preliminary hearing and trial. Of course, most criminal cases, including those involving DUI charges, don’t actually go to trial but are instead resolved through plea bargaining. If you do take your DUI case to trial, however, here’s what to expect.
First, if the judge presiding over your hearing finds there is probable cause, an arraignment hearing will be scheduled. Pretrial motions, including motions to suppress evidence and dismiss charges, are submitted by your lawyer at the arraignment or later at the pretrial conference. At the arraignment, the charges against you will be announced, and you’ll be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Your attorney will decide if you’re better served by entering a plea agreement or having the case go to trial. Likewise, if this is your first time facing a DAI charge, you may be eligible for ARD, or Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, a diversion program under the court’s supervision.
In all first offense DUI cases, there is no right to a Jury Trial, so your trial would be before a Judge sitting alone. For DUI repeat offenders, the trial process begins when your lawyer and the district attorney decide upon a jury. Once the jury is seated, each side will offer opening statements, call witnesses, present evidence through the witnesses, and deliver closing arguments. If your case heads to trial, an experienced and skillful Pennsylvania DAI lawyer may be able to further defend your rights in selecting the jury, development of opening statements, calling of witnesses, presentation of evidence, and other procedures, including closing arguments.
Once your lawyer and the district attorney finish presenting their cases, the judge will inform the jury how to apply the law to the facts of the case. The jurors will then be sent to the jury room to deliberate. If they reach a unanimous agreement on your innocence or guilt, their verdict will be announced in court. The judge will then decide your sentence if you were found guilty.
Get In Touch with A Knowledgeable Montgomery County DUI Attorney
If your license has been suspended following a DUI conviction, it’s crucial to seek out experienced counsel so that you can successfully reinstate your driving privileges. The Montgomery County DUI attorneys at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford understand how difficult this time can be for you, which is why we’re committed to fighting for your rights and protecting your interests during the legal process. Our highly trusted legal team understands the ins and outs of Montgomery County DUI defense law and will be by your side every step of the way.
These are some of the DAI / DUI / DWI cases that we handle:
- First Offense DUI
- Multiple Offense DUI
- Failure to Take a Breathalyzer
- Underage Drinking
- Commercial Driver DUI
The seasoned lawyers at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford have been helping clients for more than 65 years in Montgomery County, and Bucks County, and throughout the surrounding areas. We’ve gained the respect and trust of clients facing a range of legal problems. Our attorneys are prepared to protect you and guard your rights. Contact us at (215) 822-7575 or complete our online contact form today.