Driving under the influence in Pennsylvania is a criminal offense. If convicted, you face costly fines, suspension or revocation of your driver’s license, mandatory alcohol-education classes, an increase in or cancellation of your auto insurance policy, having to drive with an ignition interlock device in your vehicle, probation, and possible jail time. DUIs are very serious, which is why you need a Chester, PA DUI lawyer fighting for your rights.
Act Swiftly to Schedule a DMV Hearing
Just because you’ve been charged with a DUI doesn’t mean your life is over. An experienced Chester DUI attorney can help, but it’s important to act quickly. There are certain deadlines that come up as soon as 10 days after your arrest that can affect your ability to drive. For example, requesting a DMV hearing can help keep your driver’s license from being suspended after your 30-day provisional license expires.
DMV hearings, however, are more complicated than they seem. It’s important to have a DUI lawyer in Chester like Steven Kellis who has the experience and familiarity with the process that can help you keep your driving privileges.
DUI Statistics for Chester, PA
With the second-highest volume of DUI arrests in Pennsylvania, Chester County residents need to take drinking and driving more seriously.
Chester County court records show that the county as a whole had 1,684 DUI/DWI prosecutions in 2018, making up 37.5% of all criminal proceedings. For comparison, DUI prosecutions make up 25.2% of criminal prosecutions for the state of Pennsylvania as a whole.
One bright spot is that Chester County ranks relatively low for its rate of DUI-related road fatalities. Out of 67 counties, it ranks 52nd.
Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program (ARD)
The ARD program acts as a pre-trial diversion for first-time offenders facing certain non-violent criminal misdemeanor charges. Individuals who enter the program participate in a state-sponsored supervision program similar to probation. They also have to attend educational programs for responsible substance use.
There are substantial costs associated with ARD and related programs. However, these costs are much lower than many DUI fines and sentences, and they allow alleged DUI perpetrators to avoid jail time.
After successful completion of ARD, the participant can petition to have their DUI arrest and charges expunged from their record.
ARD can seem like a tempting option for certain first-time offenders, but individuals can only participate once. As such, it may be in your best interest to explore other options. You can choose to fight charges or have them dropped through procedural motions, like a motion to dismiss evidence.
DUI Plea Options in Chester, PA
- NOT GUILTY: A not guilty plea means that you intend to fight the prosecution’s case. This doesn’t always mean that you prove you were not driving under the influence. Instead, you can prove that the case lacks evidence or that the prosecution violated due process.
- GUILTY: A guilty plea should only be made when there are no good options for fighting charges, and only after making a plea arrangement with the prosecution. Appointing a Chester DUI lawyer can give you options for negotiating a plea in exchange for reduced charges or more lenient sentencing.
- NOLO CONTENDERE: Pleading “no contest” acts as a guilty plea, with all the penalties therein. For certain minor traffic violations, a nolo plea can offer certain benefits. However, a DUI charge usually carries penalties too heavy for this option to be beneficial.
Penalties for DUI
Penalties for DUI can include anything from hefty fines to jail time. The actual penalties you face will depend on a number of factors, such as:
- Whether this is your first DUI, or you’re a repeat offender
- Your blood alcohol content, and the type of vehicle you were driving (non-commercial, commercial, or a school bus). Pennsylvania’s new grading system imposes increased penalties for non-commercial drivers based on their level of intoxication: General Impairment (.08 – .099 percent), High BAC (.10-.159 percent), and Highest BAC (.16 percent and higher)
- Whether there were any property damages, vehicle damages, or bodily injuries
- If there were any passengers in the vehicle under 14 years old
- Whether a minor was driving under the influence
Depending on the circumstances of your DUI, you can face fines ranging from $300-$10,000; imprisonment for up to 6 months; suspension of your driver’s license for up to 18 months; up to 150 hours of community service; court-ordered alcohol highway safety school; substance abuse treatment; and more. An experienced drunk driving defense lawyer will be able to review the facts of your case to help you pursue the best possible outcome.
Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late – Schedule a Free Consultation Today!
If you have been arrested for a DUI in Chester, PA, it’s prudent to hire a DUI lawyer as soon as possible. It’s important to be proactive in handling your DUI case, and hiring a lawyer is the first step. Contact The Law Offices of Steven E. Kellis today to schedule a free consultation. We are available 24 hours per day, and are dedicated to helping you achieve a favorable outcome. Call now: (267) 341-1365. There is no obligation and all consultations are confidential.