The DUI Arrest
Most Pennsylvania DUI arrests begin with a traffic stop or a checkpoint. The officer asks you to perform a series of field sobriety tests and to blow twice into a handheld breathalyzer. After arrest, the officer usually will ask you to take a blood or breath test at the police station, jail or hospital (you’re required by law to take this test…refusing the chemical test may result in tougher Pennsylvania DUI penalties and a one-year drivers license suspension).
For most misdemeanor DUI arrests, the police will release you within a few hours of arrest and booking.
The DMV Process
Your Pennsylvania DUI attorney conducts the hearing on your behalf. You may or may not be asked to attend. Your lawyer’s primary objective is to convince the DMV not to suspend your driver’s license. But your lawyer may also use the DMV hearing as an opportunity to gather evidence that may prove useful in court.
For example, we can subpoena the breathalyzer’s maintenance and calibration logs, often revealing a history of malfunctions and inaccurate readings. We can also subpoena the arresting officer to testify at the DMV hearing…and illicit testimony about poor DUI training and mistakes in the investigation.
- If you are notified of a license suspension, you have 30 days from the Mail Date of that notice to appeal the suspension
- After the hearing, the judge will make a determination on the appeal. You will be notified in writing within 10-30 days. Remember: A DUI conviction in court could trigger a separate suspension.
- Note: DMV hearing will only occur if you appeal your suspension for driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
If Your License Gets Suspended
If you do sustain a driver’s license suspension, in some cases you can apply for a restricted license. An Occupational Limited License will allow you to drive to and from work and medical appointments. An Ignition Interlock License will allow you to operate a vehicle installed with a breathalyzer. It is imperative to remember that you must heed the suspension while it is in effect. Driving with a suspended license is a crime in Pennsylvania. Driving with a DUI suspended license could lead to probation violation, possible jail time, a longer suspension and hefty fines.
DUI Court Proceedings
Most people whose BAC exceeds .08% get charged with multiple misdemeanor counts of DUI in accordance with PA Motor Vehicle Code Section 3802 (tier system-lowest level, high level and highest level). This will be amended pending the results of blood.Your Pennsylvania DUI attorney will attend your DUI court proceedings with you. There is one court proceeding your attorney can handle without your presence. Most DUI cases involve several court dates, and can span over several months. During this time, you DUI attorney collects evidence, runs motions, and negotiates with the police officer and prosecutor seeking a dismissal or a reduction in the charges.
If a settlement is reached involving you pleading to a DUI or a lesser charge, you must come to court and plead in person before the judge.
If no settlement can be reached, the DUI case ultimately will get set for a bench trial. Prosecutors and judges often give better deals after a case gets set for trial…as there may be more trials on the docket than courtrooms available to accommodate them. Also, problems in the state’s evidence become more apparent when a trial D.A. finally takes a hard look at the case.