Getting arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) can be a scary ordeal. After your initial arrest, you’re probably left wondering whether you’ll lose your license, how to defend your case, and what happens next.
While the facts and circumstances of every DUI charge are different, experienced our Conshohocken DUI defense lawyers will know exactly how to best handle your case.
Call the Law Offices of Steven E. Kellis today at (215) 543-6566 to schedule your free consultation.
Penalties For DUI Conviction In Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania uses a sliding scale when assessing penalties for DUI, and the penalties you face depend largely on whether it’s your first offense and how high your blood alcohol content (BAC) is. For example, first-time offenders, i.e., those who haven’t been arrested for DUI within the past 10 years, with a low blood alcohol content face a fine up to $300 and a maximum of 6 months probation. Penalties for repeat offenders, or first-time offenders with a high BAC, can increase up to a $10,000 fine, 5 years imprisonment, participation in mandatory, court-ordered classes, and suspension of their driver’s license for 18 months. There are also other factors that can increase the penalties and fines for DUI.
The Importance Of Retaining Our Conshohocken PA DUI Lawyers
From the moment you’re released after a DUI arrest, the clock starts ticking against you. Within the first 10 days after your release, you must schedule a DMV hearing to appeal the automatic suspension of your driver’s license. A knowledgeable DUI lawyer serving Conshohocken, Pennsylvania who has experience with these hearings can be instrumental in helping you retain your driving privileges, even if it’s just a limited license that allows you to continue driving to work.
Retaining our DUI defense lawyers quickly after your arrest will also help ensure that all necessary evidence against you is collected and reviewed and that any other defenses that may be available to you are preserved. Time is of the essence, and the sooner an attorney can start working on your case, the better the chances of obtaining a favorable outcome.
DUI Defenses In Pennsylvania
In addition to representing you at your DMV hearing, the DUI lawyers at The Law Offices of Steven E. Kellis will review the facts and circumstances of your case in order to mount an optimal defense. Many clients believe that failing a field sobriety test or breathalyzer means they will automatically be found guilty; however, this is not always the case. Even if you failed the field sobriety test or breathalyzer, there are still a number of ways to defend your DUI charge.
Some common ways to challenge DUI charges in Pennsylvania include:
- Lack of probable cause for the initial traffic stop
- Failure of the arresting officer follow proper procedure during the arrest
- Insufficient evidence
- Factors that can make the breathalyzer or field sobriety test inaccurate or unreliable
The actual defenses available are fact-specific, and require the expertise of a qualified Conshohocken PA DUI lawyer to review your case to determine which defenses may be available to you. In some cases the accused may be eligible for the Pennsylvania ARD Program, the Pennsylvania Section 17 Program or your DUI may be able to be dropped to a wet reckless charge. Our Conshohocken criminal defense attorneys will explain all options to you so you can make an informed decision.
DUI Statistics for Conshohocken
DUI arrests are common in Conshohocken, PA, but DUI-related road fatalities are, fortunately, rare.
Statistics for Montgomery County, where Conshohocken, PA, is located, show that the average number of Court Reporting Network (CRN) evaluations conducted per year is 2,751. These evaluations are performed for all individuals convicted of a DUI, so they do not indicate the total number of DUI arrests in Montgomery County.
State trooper arrest figures provide another view of how common DUI charges are in Conshohocken. A large number of stops and DUI arrests in Montgomery County are made by state troopers in Troop T. This troop performed 167 DUI arrests in 2018.
A study performed by Value Penguin found that Montgomery County had the third-lowest rate of DUI fatalities in Pennsylvania, according to data averaged from the three-year period of 2015 – 2018.
The most recent statewide statistics from Pennsylvania DOT claim that there were 52,636 DUI arrests made in 2014.
The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program (ARD)
Pennsylvania operates a pre-trial intervention program known as the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program, or ARD. The idea of this program is that you essentially plead “no contest” to certain non-violent criminal charges by choosing not to defend yourself in court. In exchange, the state will enroll you in a 6-12 month (sometimes 24) probation program that includes Highway Safety classes and a possible temporary license suspension.
Completing the program allows you to avoid the fines, jail time, and criminal penalties associated with a DUI conviction. It does have a fixed cost, though, because of fees and other assessments. These usually total anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 over the course of the program.
People who complete the program are eligible to petition the court to have their DUI arrest expunged from their records.
Technically speaking, there is no prosecution of your case, no guilty plea, and no conviction. That’s why programs like these are often referred to as “pre-trial” diversions: you never really handle your charges in court.
The option to enroll in ARD is only available to first-time offenders without any prior criminal convictions. The individual must also not have been involved in a crash that resulted in serious injury or death, and they must not have had a minor under the age of 14 as a passenger in their vehicle at the time of the arrest. The candidate must also have had the state minimum car insurance coverage at the time of their arrest.
Individuals can only complete the ARD program once. They also waive their right to defend against the DUI charges or seek to have them dropped. Not everyone who applies to the ARD program will be accepted. If you are facing DUI charges, only consider ARD as an option if you have first ruled out the option of defending against the charges with the help of an experienced Pennsylvania DUI attorney.
Statistics from the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office show that the county handled 1,120 DUI cases through ARD in 2018 and granted 621 expungements.
What Local Court Hears DUI Cases After a Conshohocken Arrest?
After you have been arrested for a DUI in Conshohocken, you will have a number of appointments to make at various courts located within Montgomery County.
Your first appointment is a Preliminary Hearing. It takes place at the Magisterial District Court that has jurisdiction over the area in which you were stopped and arrested.
The most common District Court Magistrate Judge for DUI arrests in Conshohocken is:
Judge Francis J. Bernhardt
625 West Ridge Pike
Building “B”, Suite 101
Conshohocken, PA 19428-1188
Other possible Magistrate Judges you may face after a Conshohocken DUI arrest include:
- Judge Deborah A. Lukens — Lafayette Hill, PA (Parts of Conshohocken)
- Judge William I. Maruszczak — King of Prussia, PA (West Conshohocken)
After your preliminary hearing, the presiding magistrate judge will determine if the prosecution has probable cause to continue their case. If your case does continue, you will attend an Arraignment at the County Court of Common Pleas for criminal cases. The Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas is located at:
Montgomery County Court House
Norristown, PA 19404-0311
If your case proceeds to a jury trial, the trial will take place at the Criminal Court located in the Montgomery County Court House at the above address.
DUI Plea Options In PA
You have several options for responding to your DUI charges after a Conshohocken arrest:
- File motions to have your charges amended, reduced, or dismissed
- Enter a “not guilty” plea and defend your charges, up to the point of a jury trial
- Cooperate with the prosecution to enter a “guilty” plea in exchange for reduced charges and/or sentencing
- Enter the ARD program (after your arraignment)
Contact Our Conshohocken DUI Defense Lawyers
If you or a loved one has been arrested for DUI in Akron, it’s vital to retain an experienced and knowledgeable DUI defense attorney who can make a difference in the outcome of your case. Mr. Kellis has extensive knowledge of Pennsylvania DUI laws and experience handling DUI cases and attending evidentiary proceedings. Mr. Kellis will handle your case personally, and is available around the clock to consult with you. Complete our online form to arrange your free consultation today.
Our criminal attorneys serve those facing criminal, drug crime and DUI charges in all of Eastern Pennsylvania. This includes the counties of Montgomery, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Northampton, and Philadelphia.