Am I going to Jail?
If you are convicted (found guilty) of Driving Under the Influence and your BAC is above .10%, there is mandatory minimum jail time that is set by the Legislature. A Mandatory sentence means that a judge has no discretion and is required to impose a sentence of jail time, which can range from a minimum of 2 days in jail to 1 year, depending on prior record and BAC level. Intermediate punishment such as Work Release or House Arrest is determined by the sentencing judge.
I have never been arrested before - what is going to happen to me?
If this is a first offense and there were no injuries, you may be eligible for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program, known as ARD. If ARD is approved, you will not have to plead guilty and the charges are eventually dismissed after successful completion of classes and community service. There is no jail time and license suspension ranges from no suspension for the lowest level up to 60 days suspension for levels over .16%. Once the charges are dismissed, a Motion for Expungement can be filed resulting in all of the charges being officially removed from your record. As a former Senior Deputy District Attorney, I approved over 1,000 people for ARD, and as a defense attorney, I have assisted over 1,000 clients gain admission into this beneficial program. Admission into the ARD program is determined solely by the District Attorney's Office so your attorney's relationship with the prosecution is extremely important.
I have a prior record for DUI
There is a 10 year "look-back period" in which the District Attorney will review an individual's prior record to determine whether there were past convictions or ARD cases within the past 10 years. If this is a second or third offense, the mandatory minimum prison sentence is dramatically increased ranging from 5 days for the lowest level to 1 year in jail for the highest. A majority of the hundreds of multiple offenders that we have represented received house arrest, rather than several months in jail. If house arrest is granted by the sentencing judge, the sentence is served in the individual's home rather than prison, and the individual is typically permitted to leave the home for employment.
The Police didn't see me driving
In order to be convicted of DUI, the police must prove that you were driving, operating or in actual physical control of the vehicle. If there is other evidence that the vehicle was driven, the police do not necessarily have to observe you driving. However, the defense case is stronger when there are no driving observations as Pennsylvania Courts have consistently held that more evidence is needed than the defendant being found behind the wheel with the motor running.
I was not read my rights (Miranda warnings)
Contrary to popular belief, Miranda warnings are not required when someone is arrested. Miranda warnings are needed when an individual is in custody and is asked a question by police, to which the answer may incriminate the individual. Since DUI cases generally involve the officer's observations and/or Blood Alcohol amount, Miranda is not typically given. However, if you answered questions that could incriminate you and Miranda was not given, you could file a Motion to Suppress to attempt to have your statements thrown out of court. The case will not be dismissed for lack of Miranda warnings, only the incriminating statements can be suppressed.
The police did not have a reason to stop me
If the police did not have "reasonable suspicion" or probable cause for the stop, a Motion to Suppress Evidence can be filed in the Court of Common Pleas. At this hearing, the police must prove that they had a valid reason to stop your vehicle. If the judge rules that the stop was unconstitutional, then all of the evidence gathered against you is suppressed and the case gets dismissed.
Will I lose my driver's license?
The law states that a conviction for a DUI over .10% shall result in at least a one (1) year license suspension. However, in certain cases, an Occupational Limited License (bread-and-butter license) may be approved by Penndot. License suspension for the ARD program ranges from no suspension for the lowest blood alcohol level to a 60 day suspension for BAC above .16%.
Can my record be expunged if I am convicted?
The law states that a criminal conviction cannot be expunged until the individual turns 70 years of age. The only way to get a conviction off of your record is to receive a Governor's Pardon, which is very difficult to obtain.