In the state of Pennsylvania, those who drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are committing a criminal offense. A conviction for any criminal offense in Pennsylvania can result in serious penalties. In the case of a conviction, potential penalties can include fines, loss of one’s driver’s license, and even incarceration. A DUI conviction in Philadelphia County can pose other long-term problems as well, such as loss of employment and income, higher insurance rates, and damage to one’s reputation. That’s why you must contact a Philadelphia County DUI lawyer as soon as possible after your arrest.
Given the severity of the consequences that you can face if you are convicted of DUI, we know that it is important to take all steps possible to potentially minimize a negative outcome in your case. Fortunately, we have nearly unparalleled experience and knowledge when it comes to handling DUI cases. Steven E. Kellis is a former prosecutor with 25 years of experience in cases involving DUI-related offenses. We know how to investigate the facts surrounding your charge, assess the evidence against you, and develop a strategy that is designed to bring you the fewest negative consequences.
Contact The Law Offices of Steven E. Kellis today to learn how we can help with your case.
DUI Charges in Pennsylvania
Because Pennsylvania uses a sliding scale to assess DUIs, your penalties will increase the higher your blood alcohol content (BAC). You’ll also be faced with harsher penalties if you already have one or more DUIs on your record, and it will generally be more difficult to have those charges reduced.
However, difficult doesn’t mean impossible. The role of a Philadelphia County DUI lawyer is to reduce or dismiss your penalties, and Steven Kellis has more than 25 years of experience doing so for his clients. Mr. Kellis understands the potential issues in a DUI case, and he knows how to argue to get your charges dropped or reduced.
Keep reading to learn more about Pennsylvania’s DUI legislation.
General Impairment DUI Penalties
In Pennsylvania, “general impairment” means that a person’s BAC falls between .08 and .99%. Pennsylvania had previously recognized a .10% BAC as the legal cutoff, but the law was changed in 2003 to reflect a lower threshold.
General impairment penalties are categorized by first, second, or third and subsequent offenses.
- First offense: $300 fine, misdemeanor charge, up to six months of probation, and attendance in alcohol highway safety school.
- Second offense: $300 to $2,500 fine, misdemeanor charge, 12-month driver’s license suspension, one year with an ignition interlock device, five days to six months jail time, and attendance in alcohol highway safety school.
- Third or subsequent offense: $500 to $5,000 fine, 2nd-degree misdemeanor charge, 12-month license suspension, one year with an ignition interlock device, and 10 days to two years in prison.
High BAC Penalties
In Pennsylvania, any BAC over .10% is considered extreme DUI. This charge comes with more serious penalties, which include:
- First offense: $500 to $5,000 fine, ungraded misdemeanor charge, 48 hours to six months in prison, and 12-month license suspension.
- Second offense: $750 to $5,000 fine, ungraded misdemeanor charge, 30 days to six months in prison, and one year with an ignition interlock device.
- Third or subsequent charge: $1,500 to $10,000 fine, 1st-degree misdemeanor charge, 18-month license suspension, 90 days to five years in prison, and one year with an ignition interlock device.
In most cases, Pennsylvania DUIs are considered misdemeanors. The maximum prison sentence for DUI convictions is typically no more than two years, but they may be enhanced due to the following:
- Prior offenses (conviction, adjudication of delinquency, juvenile consent decree, acceptance of accelerated rehabilitative disposition [ARD], or preliminary disposition).
- Refusing to submit to chemical testing.
If convicted of the highest rate of blood alcohol, the penalties increase. The penalties further increase for second or third-time offenders. Commercial vehicle drivers and school bus drivers face increased penalties as well.
If you refuse breath or chemical testing, you will be subject to the highest BAC penalties, even if your BAC falls under general impairment.
Philadelphia County DUI Accidents
If you were arrested for a DUI in Philadelphia County after an automobile accident with injuries, the consequences will likely be much greater.
DUI Aggravated Assault
If any person other than the intoxicated driver receives serious bodily injury, you could be charged with aggravated assault, a second-degree felony. The PA Vehicle Code Section 3735.1 defines a serious bodily injury as “any bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.”
In Pennsylvania, the maximum sentence for a second-degree felony conviction is 10 years in jail and a maximum $25,000 fine.
DUI Vehicular Homicide
Should a death result from the accident for which you were charged with DUI, you may also be charged with homicide while under the influence. This charge is also known as vehicular manslaughter or vehicular homicide, a second-degree felony in Pennsylvania.
If convicted, you will face a minimum sentence of a mandatory three years in prison for each victim whose death resulted from the accident, along with a fine of up to $25,000.
Challenging Your DUI Charges
The ability to build a strong defense against DUI charges is dependent upon the facts and circumstances surrounding your case. While some cases may appear to be air-tight, there are often facts that call into question the legality of your arrest or the charges against you.
Philadelphia County law enforcement officers must follow certain procedures and laws when stopping a driver on suspicion of DUI, administering field sobriety and blood alcohol content tests, and arresting a driver on DUI charges.
Unfortunately, they don’t always follow these rules, leading to wrongful arrests or overly severe penalties. That’s why it’s crucial that you hire the right Philadelphia County DUI lawyer; an effective lawyer will investigate all possible mistakes and work to have your charges dropped or reduced. Some of the circumstances in which evidence can be questioned and your case potentially dropped include:
- You suffer from a medical condition that affects your ability to pass a field sobriety test (problems with balance or sight, etc.).
- The police officer does not have a basis of reasonable suspicion to pull you over.
- The officer’s breathalyzer was not properly calibrated.
- Your blood was not drawn properly during the chemical blood alcohol test.
- The prosecutor is unable to prove that you were the person driving at the time of the arrest.
When these incidents occur, there may be grounds for challenging the charges against you or otherwise avoiding a conviction.
Assert Your Right to Legal Representation
Even if a DUI conviction cannot be avoided, there are options that may be available to you to minimize the negative consequences of a DUI conviction in Philadelphia County. For a first-time DUI offender, there are programs for which you may be eligible that can ultimately result in your conviction being removed from your record, such as Pennsylvania’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program.
If you were charged with a DUI, you need a Philadelphia County DUI lawyer to fight relentlessly for the best outcome. Steven Kellis is your best advocate. To learn more about Mr. Kellis’ practice and to schedule your free, no-obligation case consultation, call (267) 314-6693 today.
Cities we serve in Philadelphia County
Two Penn Center Plaza
1500 John F. Kennedy Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19102