If you have been charged with drunk driving in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, you could face harsh criminal penalties. DUI charges are serious, and potential punishment could be life-changing, making it crucial to consult an experienced legal representative as soon as you are arrested or investigated for driving while intoxicated.
At The Law Offices of Steven E. Kellis, an experienced Lancaster PA DUI lawyer handles every detail of your case. Whether you live in Lititz, Strasburg, Adamstown, Mount Joy, or any other town in Lancaster County, your legal rights will be protected by our experienced DUI attorneys. Contact our firm now for a free initial consultation, and fight back against aggressive police and prosecutors who will try to put you behind bars.
DUI Penalties in Lancaster, PA
If you are convicted of driving under the influence, you could face significant fines, jail time, a suspended or revoked driver’s license, and a criminal record which could make it more difficult to:
- Find or keep a job
- Obtain a loan
- Receive scholarships
- Live where you want
While a first DUI offense with a BAC between 0.08 percent and .099 percent can result in three months probation and a fine of up to $300, a higher BAC or subsequent conviction could result in months to years of prison time along with thousands of dollars in fines, license suspension or revocation, a mandatory ignition interlock device, (IID), and more. IIDs alone can cost anywhere from $75 to $105 a month. That means one mistake can add up to thousands of dollars in expenses for a DUI in Pennsylvania. Lancaster DUI attorneys assist clients throughout the judicial process and work to protect the rights of Pennsylvania’s accused.
The Law Offices of Steven E. Kellis will help you understand how PA drunk driving laws affect your case, and will work to expose rights violations, problems with field sobriety tests, blood and breath test issues, and other legal aspects that could help you avoid jail time and other penalties. We will work to dismiss or reduce the charges against you and get you back on your feet. One mistake doesn’t have to equal lifelong punishment.
Our Effective Approach to Pennsylvania DUI Charges
When you work with a Lancaster DUI attorney, you’ll benefit from years of trial experience and knowledge. Mr. Kellis is a former DUI prosecutor and has worked in Pennsylvania criminal drunk driving cases for several decades. Every aspect of your case from investigation to court representation will be handled by a qualified and capable attorney, and you can rest assured that your best interests are pursued throughout every step of the legal process.
After investigating the details of your case, we will form a defense strategy against your DUI charge. Depending on your unique case, the defense could include:
- Challenging chemical test results
- Challenging the officer’s testimony about your behavior
- Introducing witnesses who saw the events differently than the arresting officer
- Arguing that the officer did not have probable cause to arrest you or failed to give Miranda warnings
While many Lancaster DUI attorneys defend every case using the same tactics, Mr. Kellis understands how unique situations and legal aptitude can affect Lancaster drunk driving cases. The above defense strategies are not extensive; they should just give you an idea of the scope and effort Mr. Kellis gives clients.
Our extensive experience in DUI cases across Pennsylvania has led to the development of many innovative legal strategies that could give you an edge in your case, and contacting us as soon as possible is a great first step no matter what the specifics of your situation. Consultations are free, confidential, and there’s no obligation to retain our services.
DUI Statistics for Lancaster, PA
Lancaster, Pennsylvania has a low to average rate of DUIs compared to the rest of the state. Statistics show that the southeast region of PA that includes Lancaster has the highest rate of DUIs of any region in the state. Yet Lancaster County ranks 48th out of 67 counties for its rate of DUI-related fatalities. It also has a slightly lower proportion of DUI prosecutions compared to the state average of 25.2% of all criminal prosecutions.
In total, Lancaster County prosecuted 1,373 DUI/DWI cases in 2018, making up 24.9% of the criminal docket overall.
Pennsylvania DUI Laws
Pennsylvania has a number of laws defining the offense of driving under the influence. These laws carry corresponding penalties for conviction.
According to 38 § 3802(a-c), you cannot legally operate a vehicle if you have drunk enough to impair your driving abilities. The law sets the blood alcohol content (BAC) threshold at 0.08%, but you can be below 0.08% and still considered “impaired” at an officer’s discretion.
Penalties for general impairment for those with no prior DUI offenses include:
- Misdemeanor charge, up to six months of probation, a $300 fine, and attendance in alcohol highway safety school. The person charged must undergo treatment if ordered.
There are harsher penalties for those given a general impairment charge if they have one or more prior DUI offenses.
Higher levels of impairment act as more serious crimes and carry harsher penalties. These are described in 38 § 3803 and their penalties are laid out in 38 § 3804.
Penalties for a high BAC (.10 to .159%) for those with no prior DUI offenses include:
- Misdemeanor charge, 12-month license suspension, 48 hours to six months’ jail time, $500 to $5,000 fine, and attendance in alcohol highway safety school. The person charged must undergo treatment if ordered.
Penalties for the highest BAC (.16 or higher) or for a controlled substance for those with no prior charges include:
- Misdemeanor charge, 12-month license suspension, 72 hours to six months’ jail time, $1,000 to $5,000 fine, and attendance in alcohol highway safety school. The person charged must undergo treatment if ordered.
38 § 3802(d) states that impairment can also include the effects of controlled substances, prescriptions, or over-the-counter medicines so long as they hinder your ability to safely drive.
Statute 38 § 3809 forbids having an open container of alcohol in any vehicle, unless you’re a passenger in a bus, taxi or limo.
Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program (ARD)
The ARD program acts as a pre-trial diversion for alleged perpetrators of certain non-violent misdemeanors. In summary, the program allows you to avoid prosecution for a crime if you are a first-time offender, meet other qualifications, and agree to a probationary program.
Individuals who are eligible for ARD will be notified as part of their arraignment appointment after their preliminary hearing. They must meet the qualifications and be selected as a worthy candidate. After completing the program, you may be eligible to have your arrest and charges expunged from your record.
Entering the ARD program can help you avoid the most severe penalties for DUI sentencing, but it involves probation and other fees. You can also only enter the program once, so accepting it now means not having the option later. Before deciding to enter ARD, it can be advantageous to speak with an experienced Lancaster DUI lawyer to see if you have options for fighting your charges procedurally or pleading “not guilty” and facing a trial.
DUI Plea Options in Lancaster, PA
You will not have to enter a plea until your arraignment. During this time, you may be able to have your case dropped for a variety of procedural reasons, including a successful motion to dismiss charges. You may also have the option to delay entering your plea until you have had the time to appoint a lawyer.
Your eligibility for ARD is determined before you have to officially enter a plea, which is why such programs are described as a “pre-trial diversion.”
When entering your plea, you can plead not guilty if you want to argue against your charges in trial or through the procedure. Remember that your DUI defense can include proving that the prosecution does not have sufficient evidence to convict or that they mishandled the case.
You can plead guilty to your charges as well. First, it is in your best interest to see what kinds of plea arrangements you can make. These arrangements often reduce your charges or sentence in exchange for a guilty plea to a lesser crime.
Pleading nolo contendere or “no contest” is nearly identical to a guilty plea. It is rarely considered in DUI cases and is generally reserved for lesser, non-criminal motor vehicle violations.
Contact Lancaster PA DUI Lawyer Steven Kellis
If you were arrested for a DUI in Lancaster County, PA, you need to understand your rights. One of these is the right to seek legal counsel. You should never assume that you’re out of options after being arrested for a DUI; an officer may have used improper arrest procedures or wrongly concluded that you were intoxicated.
You’re not alone in your journey. Contact Steven E. Kellis immediately if you or a loved one are facing DUI accusations in Lancaster, PA. Call (267) 341-1365 or arrange a consultation through our contact page.