A first-time DUI can be a scary experience because it might be the first time you are dealing with magistrates, prosecutors, the police, and the entire court system. The thought of being confined and parting with hundreds of dollars in fines can get you into panic mode.
But being arrested or charged doesn’t always end up in a conviction, depending on your decisions. First of all, having a criminal defense lawyer in Lemoyne can calm you down as you seek more information on the possibilities of your case.
How Can I Tell the Seriousness of My First-Time DUI Charge?
The seriousness of your first-time DUI in Pennsylvania depends on the category it falls into. It can determine whether you get the least possible penalties or the severest possible punishment for first-timers. Your blood alcohol content (BAC) is the key determinant of this in Pennsylvania.
Notably, the BAC limit is usually 0.08%. Here is how your intoxication is categorized if your breathalyzer test shows that you have exceeded the legal limit:
- General impairment – Levels between 0.08% and 0.09%.
- High BAC – Levels between 1.0% and 0.159%.
- Highest BAC – Levels as high as 1.6% and above.
What Penalties Do I Risk if I Fail to Defend Myself Adequately?
While first-time DUI offenses attract less severe penalties compared to consequent charges, the repercussions can have life-changing implications if you are convicted.
Convicts at this level risk:
- Fines of approximately $300
- Probation for up to 6 months
If you fail to up your defense after being found with high BAC, the penalties include:
- 48 hours to 6 months in jail
- Fines of between $500 and $5,000
- License suspension for 12 months
The highest forms of intoxication attract the following penalties:
- Between 3 days and 6 months
- Fines of not less than $1,000 and not more than $5,000
- License suspension for 12 months
Apart from the above penalties, there are also court fees and other monetary expenses. But the best way to avoid all these is through a good defense built with the guidance of a Lemoyne DUI attorney.
Is My DUI Case Handled Differently if I’m a Minor?
DUI cases involving people under 21 years of age are taken extremely seriously. The Zero Tolerance law punishes people driving with alcohol levels as low as 0.02 as severely as adults with a High BAC. The penalties include:
- Alcohol highway safety school
- Substance abuse treatment
- 12 months’ license suspense
- $500 to $5,000 in fines
A similar fate awaits drivers of commercial vehicles, such as taxis and buses. Even at lower alcohol levels, they can get penalties for drivers with High BAC.
Are There Alternatives to a First-Time DUI Conviction in Pennsylvania?
While a conviction is inevitable in some instances, first-time offenders are eligible for alternatives that may not be available to second, third, and subsequent offenders. You could get a deferred judgment that requires you to be on probation for some time.
And if you qualify for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program, you might get a better outcome afterward. Upon completing the alternative programs, the DUI offense could be removed from your criminal record in Pennsylvania.
Do First-Time DUI Offenders Automatically Qualify for Rehabilitation?
All first-time DUI offenders are eligible for the ARD program that can erase their criminal records after successful completion. However, qualification is not automatic and will depend on your circumstance and the aggressiveness of your DUI lawyer in Lemoyne, PA.
For you to be accepted to the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program, you need to:
- Meet the specific eligibility criteria
- Get approval from the district attorney’s office in your county
- Be approved by the court
Getting into the ARD program is usually a tall task in Pennsylvania. But if an experienced DUI attorney R. Davis Younts, Esq represents you, his expertise can make a lot of difference.
Can I Expunge My Records if I’m Convicted for a DUI in Pennsylvania?
If you fail to get into the ARD program and get a deferred judgment, you can only depend on good defense to escape conviction. But if your defense is weak and the prosecution convinces the judge to convict you, the offense will go into your record.
The ability to expunge a record for any DUI in Pennsylvania diminishes after a conviction. This means that you may never clear it from your criminal record or remove it from the records of the police or any other agency that has a copy of your records.
What Defense Strategies Can an Attorney Use in My DUI Case
The first step to a successful defense is having a skilled Lemoyne DUI attorney that can take their time to listen to your story attentively. With full knowledge of what transpired before, during, and after the arrest, the attorney can build a strategic defense.
A good defense involves:
- A critical analysis and dissection of the details in the police report
- Looking for weaknesses in the police’s testimonies and neutralizing their arguments
- Questioning the testimony of any experts regarding the breath or alcohol testing
- Using own experts to show why the reading on the breathalyzer or blood test reading was inaccurate
- Using applicable case law to seek full dismissal of the case
- Arguing that you were arrested without probable cause or reasonable suspicion
Note that the choice of defense depends on the unique nature of each case. And a defense applicable to one first-time DUI case might not work in another case.
A Lawyer Fighting to Protect You and Keep Control of Your Future
The last thing you desire from a first-time DUI charge is a conviction. You not only risk losing your freedom, but you may also struggle to find opportunities with this offense on your record. Fighting for your freedom is critical if you have been arrested.
Talking to an experienced lawyer involves discussing the best possible outcomes for your case. You will also sit together and build a defense and explore other possibilities for relief, such as an ARD program eligibility. Get in touch with us today and let us protect your rights and freedom.