Philadelphia DUI Lawyer

Being charged with a DUI in Philadelphia can be a scary proposition. Whether it’s a first or subsequent DUI offense, each case has its own special circumstances so it’s prudent to seek astute legal representation to potentially minimize the damages. Take the necessary steps to protect yourself in the event you have been arrested for a DUI.


Hire an Experienced Philadelphia DUI Attorney

Attorney Steven E. Kellis is highly experienced in all nuances of Pennsylvania DUI laws. A graduate of Villanova Law School, Kellis is permitted to practice law in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. As a former Senior Assistant District Attorney, Steven E. Kellis has years of experience on both sides of the law, prosecuting against those charged with DUI and later defending those charged with DUI. With 20 years of jury trial experience under his belt and impressive legal victories, Steven E. Kellis is one of the longest-tenured Philadelphia DUI lawyers in town.

Work with a Highly Specialized DUI Lawyer in Philadelphia

It is very important to retain an attorney who is both knowledgeable and experienced in defending clients accused of driving under the influence of alcohol. To get the specialized legal attention you deserve, it is best to seek a DUI attorney in Philadelphia who does only DUI defense. If a lawyer is 100 percent immersed in DUI laws, cases, and trials on a weekly basis, they have a higher likelihood of providing superior defense because they truly know the ins and outs of every case and all possible outcomes.

Beware of working with a multi-practice law firm whose attorneys “proclaim” they provide DUI defense – it is a far cry from an attorney who does nothing but DUI cases and who truly wants the best outcome for you. Steven E. Kellis is very knowledgeable of PA DUI laws and will provide as optimal of a defense as possible for those charged with a Philadelphia DUI.

DUI Lawyers in Philadelphia Should Know Breathalyzers

When considering potential DUI lawyers, one important factor often overlooked is their experience with breath test machines (breathalyzers) that are used in Pennsylvania. You should really challenge an attorney to impress you with their knowledge of the different types of breathalyzers used for DUIs, what makes them unique and different, how many different devices there are, etc.

Any hesitation on their part to answer your questions means you should consider different Philadelphia DUI attorneys. It is important to remember that you are the boss and you are hiring them – the lawyer works for you, not the other way around. Have peace and confidence in selecting your legal representation.

Philadelphia DUI Attorneys Are Not All Made the Same

In addition to being knowledgeable and experienced about DUI matters in Philadelphia, it is important that the attorney you select is a successful attorney. Ask about previous clients, outcomes of some of those cases, what he or she thinks the outcome can and will be for your case, etc. Of course, a DUI charge cannot be dismissed or reduced every time someone is charged with a DUI in Philadelphia, but you do want someone who can at least point to several dozens of examples of successful acquittals or substantially reduced charges.

What Are the Penalties for a DUI in Philadelphia?

The official blood alcohol content (BAC) threshold for a DUI in Pennsylvania is .08 percent. There are more severe penalties for higher BACs of .10 and .16 percent.

For a standard DUI case of .08 to .99 BAC, the penalties in PA are:

  • First Offense: Misdemeanor
    • $300 fine
    • ≤ 6 months’ probation (additional cost)
    • Alcohol highway safety school (additional cost)
    • Possible court-ordered treatment (additional cost)
  • Second Offense: Misdemeanor
    • 5 days – 6 months jail time
    • $300 – $2,500 fine
    • 12-month license suspension
    • 1-year ignition interlock device
    • Alcohol highway safety school (additional cost)
    • Possible court-ordered treatment (additional cost)
  • Third Offense: 2nd Degree Misdemeanor
    • 10 days – 2 years prison time
    • $500 – $5,000 fine
    • 12-month license suspension
    • 1-year ignition interlock device
    • Alcohol highway safety school (additional cost)
    • Possible court-ordered treatment (additional cost)

Higher BAC violations carry heftier penalties. For example, someone arrested with a BAC of .16 or higher will have fines between $1,000 – $5,000, at least 72 hours in jail, and up to six months in prison for just their first violation.

Pennsylvania DUI Laws You Should Know

38 § 3802(a-c): You cannot legally operate a vehicle once you have consumed enough alcohol to impair your abilities. This statute sets the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) threshold limit at 0.08%, but it is possible to have a DUI conviction on less than 0.08% if the prosecution can prove you were impaired. The statute also specifies different levels of impairment based on higher BACs (general impairment, high level of alcohol, highest level of alcohol).

38 § 3802(d): You cannot legally operate a vehicle if you are on any controlled substance or have used any prescription or over-the-counter medicine that impacts your ability to safely drive.

38 § 3803: Describes the different levels of DUI offenses

38 § 3804: Sets the penalties for different levels of DUI offenses.

38 § 3809: Forbids having an open container of alcohol in your car, unless you’re a passenger in a bus, taxi or limo.

DUI Statistics for Philadelphia

Because it is a big city where drinking is a common part of the culture, Philadelphia has a high volume of DUI arrests. However, efforts by law enforcement and the effect of ride-sharing services have lowered DUIs by a significant amount over the past several years.

According to the Philadelphia District Attorney, DUI arrests fell from 3,621 in 2015 to 2,769 in 2018.

A map from the American Addiction Centers shows that the highest volume of DUI arrests in Philly occur on Allegheny Avenue. Broad Street, Lehigh Ave, and Kensington Ave are significantly lower at the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th most-common streets for a DUI arrest, respectively.

Which Court Hears DUI Cases in Philadelphia?

Unlike surrounding counties, Philadelphia tries all DUI cases in the same court. Any time there is a DUI arrest in Philadelphia County, the alleged perpetrator must report to the Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice at the following address:

Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice
1301 Filbert St
Philadelphia, PA

Violations that involve a possible license suspension require a separate procedural hearing. These will take place at the Philadelphia Municipal Court — Traffic Division at the following address:

Philadelphia Municipal Court — Traffic Division
800 Spring Garden St.
Philadelphia, PA

DUI Plea Options in PA

There are four main pleas you can enter when facing a possible DUI conviction in Pennsylvania:

  1. Delay your plea — This option is available during your Preliminary Hearing if you decide to appoint a lawyer and want to reschedule. You can also attempt to resolve your case before needing to enter a plea through various motions or legal techniques. Some cases may also be diverted to the ARD program before you have to formally enter a plea or face prosecution.
  2. Not guilty — This option allows you to fight your charges procedurally, usually through a jury trial. You don’t necessarily have to prove that you weren’t driving under the influence; you can prove that the prosecution doesn’t have enough evidence to convict or that they made procedural mistakes.
  3. Guilty — This option should be reserved for cases in which you make a plea bargain with the prosecution. You can often have charges reduced, receive lighter sentencing, or avoid penalties like a license suspension. Having an attorney is essential during these negotiations.
  4. No Contest — When it comes to consequences, this plea counts as a guilty plea. You’ll receive all of the penalties for a full DUI conviction, including having the DUI on your criminal record. Usually, a “No Contest” or “Nolo Contendere” plea is better for minor traffic violations.

Contact a Veteran DUI Lawyer in Philadelphia Today!

Steven E. Kellis has a proven track record of obtaining favorable results for clients. Once he has all the facts pertaining to your case, he goes to work in crafting an optimal defense to help you move on with your life. If you have been arrested for a DUI in Philadelphia or any other part of Pennsylvania, contact us today. Your initial consultation is free, during which we will analyze your case and recommend legal actions. Call now.