Pennsylvania DUI Lawyer
A drinking and driving charge can be a confusing and stressful experience, especially if it's your first arrest. The initial step after being charged with a DUI is to immediately contact an attorney for an evaluation. Pennsylvania DUI law is complex and requires advice from an experienced lawyer who can successfully resolve your charge. Because harsh penalties can result from a drunk driving conviction, a strong defense strategy should be built for your case. It is very important to understand your rights before proceeding with the legal process.
Selecting an appropriate attorney to handle your case is vital. Due to the potential complications associated with DUI law in Pennsylvania, it's important to have representation from an attorney who understands both sides of the law, the prosecution and the defense. Steve Kellis spent five years working with DUI cases as a Senior Assistant District Attorney and DUI Prosecutor, experience that gave him firsthand knowledge of the methods used by prosecutors and police officers in drunk driving cases. As a defense attorney, Mr. Kellis has aggressive investigation and cross-examination tactics, and has represented clients in jury trials for more than 20 years. His law practice is focused solely on Pennsylvania DUI defense.
Understanding Your Rights
After the arrest, you'll receive notice of your preliminary hearing, which you must attend. Even if you have a simple DUI charge, you’ll need to speak with an attorney prior to appearing before the judge. Avoid going in and pleading guilty, even though it may seem like the easiest recourse. In Pennsylvania there are first offender programs that can result in a charge being dismissed and a petition filed for an expungement of the DUI arrest. The prosecution must prove that you are guilty of drunk driving based on the evidence. There is always the possibility of reducing the charge to something other than a DUI.
Penalties for Drinking and Driving
Every client deserves a strong defense when accused of a crime, especially a DUI charge that can have far-reaching implications on lifestyle and employment. Because of the tragic consequences often caused by drunk driving, the state of Pennsylvania has changed its laws over the years, enacting stricter penalties for DUI. In 2003, Act 24 was passed, which decreased the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) from .10 to .08% and made alcohol treatment part of the penalty for drinking and driving charges.
While first-time offenders may have complicated cases, depending on their level of intoxication and other factors, a BAC under .10 percent usually results in a $300 fine, no license suspension or jail time, and a six month probation period. A Court Reporting Network (CRN) evaluation is required, which is used to determine if a more comprehensive drug and alcohol assessment is necessary. Another requirement is Alcohol Highway Safety School (AHSS), a 12.5 hour class that teaches the basics of highway driving, alcoholism and drug addiction, and an understanding of how alcohol affects metabolism, judgment and the ability to drive safely.
Penalties increase based on your blood alcohol content, the number of times you’ve been convicted, and whether or not injuries and damages result from your impairment while driving. An ignition interlock system must be installed for one year if you have a second or third offense. Alcohol abuse screening, treatment, and community service may also be ordered.
An experienced Pennsylvania DUI lawyer will do everything necessary to defend clients against the drinking and driving charges filed by the prosecution. Pretrial motions must be made to suppress evidence when mistakes and inaccuracies are made by police officers. Was there reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle? Or probable cause to make the DUI arrest? Officers must be cross-examined to expose these mistakes. When argued successfully, a DUI case can be dismissed or the charged substantially reduced.
A DUI conviction can permanently alter your life by affecting your ability to drive, your job, your future employment opportunities, and your freedom. The penalties for a DUI in Pennsylvania are potentially severe, particularly when it is not your first offense.
Steven Kellis has the experience and knowledge to provide an aggressive defense strategy for clients facing drunk driving or other DUI-related charges. Mr. Kellis is always available to meet with you about your case. Contact our office today for a free consultation to explore the options available to address your charges and make decisions that are best for you and your family.