Chester County DUI lawyer

You’ve been pulled over for a DUI and spent the night in jail. This is the first time you’ve been arrested, and you are imagining the worst. How long will my license be taken away? Will I lose my job? These are realistic concerns. Severe penalties are associated with DUI, not to mention the stigma.

Call a Chester County DUI lawyer if you've been caught behind the wheel.

While DUI charges often involve repeat offenders, the reality is that many DUIs are given to drivers who made a single mistake that many of us are capable of. However, driving over the legal limit always means you cannot drive safely. If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence in Chester County, you may rightly fear the consequences that a conviction will bring to your life and career.

Your first step should be contacting an experienced DUI lawyer in Chester County who can offer a comprehensive plan to fight the charge. Steven Kellis is a former prosecutor for the state who has focused his Chester County law practice on DUI defense for the past 25 years. Attorney Steven Kellis understands both sides of Pennsylvania DUI law and will use aggressive tactics to get the best possible outcome for your case.

Find out what you can do to fight your DUI charge and seek the best possible outcome during a free, no-obligation case review with Steven Kellis. Call 215-940-1200 or contact us online to schedule your free appointment now.

Chester County DUI accidents

The drunk driving laws in Pennsylvania specify that a DUI accident that injures or kills another person places liability on the impaired driving for several criminal charges beyond the normal range of DUI charges in the state, including:

  • Assault
  • Manslaughter
  • Reckless endangerment
  • Vehicular homicide

Chester County DUI lawyer

DUI accident cases in Pennsylvania are severe criminal charges that can merit serious felony offense consequences, including prison time, immense fines, license revocation, permanent criminal records, and even civil liabilities.

Chester County DUI Statistics

Chester County has a very high proportion of DUI cases on its Court of Common Pleas docket compared to the state of Pennsylvania. Statewide, DUIs make up just over 25% of low-level criminal cases. However, Chester County DUI cases occupied 37.5% of the Common Pleas caseload in 2018. Overall, Chester County had 1,684 DUI prosecutions that year.

Chester County, as a whole, ranks relatively low in its rate of DUI-related fatalities, fortunately. In a list of all 67 Pennsylvania counties ranked by their population-adjusted DUI fatality rates, Chester County fell in at #52. On average, one person died of a DUI-related incident in Chester County for every 8,243 residents.

How do extreme DUIs occur?

In Pennsylvania, any BAC over 0.10 percent is considered extreme DUI. This is above the legal limit of 0.08 percent BAC. If you are charged with extreme DUI, you will face harsher penalties, including longer jail time and higher penalty fees. 

If a driver with a high blood alcohol level causes an accident with injuries, vehicle damage, or property damage, the penalties are further increased.

Extreme DUI sentencing enhancements

In most cases, DUI in Pennsylvania is considered a misdemeanor. The maximum sentence for DUI convictions is typically two years imprisonment. Sentencing enhancements are based on two factors:

  • Prior offenses (conviction, adjudication of delinquency, juvenile consent decree, acceptance of accelerated rehabilitative disposition (ARD), or preliminary disposition)
  • Refusal of chemical testing

What do I do if I’ve been drinking and have been pulled over?

First of all, never put yourself and others at risk by drinking and driving. Your risk of a dangerous accident increases exponentially when you are under the influence.

Call a Chester County DUI attorney when you have been pulled over intoxicated

That said, you have legal rights during a traffic stop that most people do not know about. Unfortunately, police officers encourage self-incrimination in situations where an individual should assert their legal rights to remain silent and obtain an attorney. 

Perhaps even more unfortunate is the fact that many individuals gravitate toward strategies that they think might help them evade a DUI but make things worse. Rest assured that there is no way to “beat” the breathalyzer on a chemical level if you have been drinking. You are much more likely to trigger a false positive than a false negative. 

Many technical legal challenges can help you get breathalyzer evidence dropped from your prosecutor’s case.

All of this is to say that you should focus on what happens to your criminal case after you are arrested. Do not think that you will be able to evade arrest through one clever trick or another.

So, what do you do when you get pulled over and are suspected of DUI?

  • Obey officer instructions for parking your vehicle, turning off the ignition, lowering music, cracking your window so they can hear you, and not making sudden movements.
  • You must declare any dangerous weapons, even if you legally possess them. If you are worried about a criminal charge for possessing a gun, you are better off refusing to answer questions than telling an outright lie.
  • Provide your license, registration, and proof of insurance. Inform the officer first if you need to retrieve them from the glove box or somewhere else.
  • If you are asked to step out of the vehicle and place your hands on the roof of the vehicle, you should comply.
  • DO NOT consent to a search of your vehicle. Make them get a warrant. Every single time.
  • Know that you do not have to consent to a field sobriety test.
  • Know that you do not need to answer any specific questions the officer asks you. This includes where you are going, where you’re coming from, or whether you’ve been drinking.
  • If an officer demands that you answer questions, ask if you’re being detained or free to go. If you are not free to go, say you would prefer to exercise your right to remain silent and have an attorney advise you.
  • Don’t lie or attempt to mislead the officer. You are more likely to provide evidence that can be used to establish your guilt than you are to “trick” them into letting you go. Instead, remain silent. Ask for a lawyer.
  • Consenting to take the breathalyzer is almost always in your interest because the penalties for refusal can be severe.

Generally speaking, watch what you say, and try to conduct yourself like someone will scrutinize this moment during an eventual prosecution case because it’s likely they will. 

Asserting your right to have a Pennsylvania DUI attorney advise you is the best way to prevent self-incrimination and to increase the odds that you will be able to weaken the prosecution’s case.

What do police officers look for when they pull over suspected drunk drivers?

Police officers need “reasonable suspicion” that a crime is being committed to make a traffic stop. They then need “probable cause” – AKA a “preponderance of evidence” standard – to justify an arrest or a request for a search warrant.

So, what actions allow a police officer to be “reasonably suspicious” that you might be committing a crime?

  • Swerving in your lane
  • Crossing over the divided lane marker
  • Speeding
  • Driving recklessly or aggressively
  • Following vehicles too closely
  • Running stop signs or red lights
  • Accelerating too quickly off the line
  • Playing music too loudly (noise violation)
  • Acting aggressively or obnoxious, such as honking at pedestrians
  • Violating any vehicle ordinance, such as not wearing a seatbelt or having a broken taillight
  • Delayed reactions, such as not going when a light turns green

Police officers may also be responding to reports from others, including those on the highway, passers-by, people in a neighborhood, or even people who saw you recently leave a drinking establishment. 

Note that a suspicious or belligerent behavior report is just one piece of evidence to give an officer probable cause. They will usually need further proof of a crime before they can justify an arrest. However, if an individual reports an actual crime, like an assault, then the officer may be able to justify an arrest based on that report alone.

What are possible DUI penalties?

Pennsylvania has several possible DUI penalties depending on the level of blood alcohol content (BAC) you have been tested for, how many prior DUI convictions you have on your record, and other circumstances.

Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes §3804 lists the following penalties for a DUI conviction with a 0.08 – 0.099 BAC:

  • 1st Offense: Misdemeanor, $300 fine, up to 6 months probation, highway safety school, possible treatment
  • 2nd Offense: Misdemeanor, $300 – $2,500 fine, five days to 6 months jail sentence, highway safety school, possible treatment, 1-year ignition interlock
  • 3rd Offense or Greater: $500 – $5,000 fine, ten days to 2 years in state prison, possible treatment, one-year ignition interlock

Higher BAC levels correspond with more strict sentencing guidelines. The categories of aggravated DUI include High BAC penalties for measured levels 0.10 to 0.159 and Highest BAC penalties for measured levels 0.16 and higher.

Your first conviction for a DUI of the Highest BAC level, for example, can bring at minimum a $1,000 fine and up to six months in prison.

Some DUI penalties are more challenging to quantify. Regardless of your sentencing level, they can have enormous consequences for your future. You may lose your license, job, or access to specific federally funded programs. The hidden consequences of a DUI are why many people choose to appoint an experienced DUI attorney to help them reduce their charges or ask for more lenient sentencing.

Challenging DUI evidence used in your case

Although drinking and driving cases may seem no more complicated than a traffic offense, Steven Kellis knows that a DUI has many potential problems. Irregularities and mistakes often occur when police officers make the initial arrest. There must be probable cause for an officer to stop your vehicle. Police officers sometimes make traffic stops that are not entirely valid.

Field sobriety and breathalyzer tests are usually administered by police officers when a person is suspected of driving under the influence. Due to the potential for human error, mistakes can be made during these tests, leading to unreliable results or being thrown out altogether. Suppressing evidence or having evidence ruled inadmissible can result in your DUI charges being reduced or dismissed when you have an experienced attorney handling your case.

Should I refuse the breathalyzer?

You should never refuse a breath test when arrested for a DUI. In Pennsylvania, refusing either the breathalyzer or a blood test can result in losing your license for an additional year, on top of the typical drinking and driving penalties. Worse, you could forfeit your driving rights for a year even if you’re not guilty of DUI.

Call a Chester County DUI lawyer if you feel like you are going to fail a breathalyzer

A two-and-a-half-year suspension can result if you refuse to take the test and you are determined to be driving under the influence, depending on your BAC level. If you refuse to test and have a prior drinking and driving conviction, you’ll receive an eighteen-month suspension for refusal plus eighteen additional months for DUI.

What is the DUI legal process?

For many people with a DUI, this is their first criminal charge. Steven Kellis knows the importance of clearly explaining the legal process to clients who’ve come to him for help. If your case is a simple DUI, you may proceed quickly through the court system, which makes it even more vital that you get the help of an experienced attorney immediately after your charge. With guidance from Mr. Kellis, you’ll learn about Pennsylvania DUI laws and what to expect when you appear in court, allowing you to make intelligent decisions about your arrest.

What are some Plea options for your DUI case?

You have many plea options available for your Chester County DUI case. The most important ones to consider include:

Delaying your plea

During your arraignment, you may be allowed to delay your plea until you have time to appoint a Chester County DUI lawyer. You may also be offered ARD or other pre-trial programs.

Not guilty

Entering a “not guilty” plea means you intend to defend your case in court. It does not necessarily mean that you can prove that you were sober at the time of your arrest, but instead that you think the prosecution doesn’t have the information needed to convict.


A guilty plea can be optionally entered, but you should always attempt to work out a plea deal with the prosecution before you do so. You and your Chester County DUI lawyer can seek to plea to lesser charges or request leniency in exchange for a reasonable trial.

“No contest” plea

A “no contest” plea can bring benefits for minor traffic violations, but for criminal cases like DUI, it is essentially the same as entering a guilty plea. Arranging a “guilty” plea bargain or requesting the advice of an attorney may be more beneficial.

Talking with a DUI lawyer in Chester County can help you assess all your options and select the one that offers the best chances at a favorable outcome.

ARD program

The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) acts as a pre-trial diversion. Pennsylvania set up this program to help certain non-violent first offenders avoid prosecution in exchange for participating in a program.

The program may require fees, substance abuse counseling, probationary supervision, and other demands. Upon completing the program, DUI suspects may have all their charges dropped, and they can request to have the arrest removed (expunged) from their records.

Many may assume that ARD is their best option but want to consider alternatives carefully. You can only participate in ARD once, for one thing. If you could have your charges reduced or dropped, you would be in a better position than if you had entered ARD. Always review your available options carefully with an experienced Chester County DUI lawyer.

Find your district court in Chester County.

The district court you will be required to appear at depends upon where you were arrested for a DUI in Chester County. You can find a directory of all magistrate district courts in Chester County on the official Chester County government website.

Cities we serve in Chester County

Your Chester County underage DUI lawyer

Facing underage DUI charges alone is a bad idea since prosecutors have years of experience and an entire police force at their disposal.

By hiring Mr. Kellis to defend against your underage DUI charges, you can be sure he will focus on giving you and your case all the time needed. He has seen how intimidating the legal process can be for clients, so he answers all clients’ questions and shares what he has learned about defending against underage DUI charges.

Call a Chester County DUI lawyer whose ready to help.

When you are facing a DUI in Chester County, enlist the assistance of a law firm that focuses its practice on representing clients charged with drinking and driving.

With more than 25 years of experience in DUI cases as both a prosecutor for the state and a defense attorney, Steven Kellis has the legal skills necessary to represent you in any DUI case effectively. Call 215-940-1200 or contact The Law Offices of Steven E. Kellis today to schedule a free case evaluation.

Chester County Office
1055 Westlakes Drive, Third Floor
Berwyn, PA