DUI & DWI In Pennsylvania
Driving under influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated/impaired (DWI) is an offense committed when a driver operates a vehicle after the consumption of alcohol, drugs or other intoxicants.
The increased alcohol level in a driver’s blood decreases mental and motor skills. This reduces a driver’s ability to control the vehicle and increases driver error and often results in accidents causing severe injuries and even death!
Drunk driving is the single largest cause of motor vehicle related fatalities. It accounts for a high of 38% to 52% of the total number of motor vehicle related deaths each year.
Hiring a DUI/DWI attorney can help if you're charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) or a similar crime. A DWI results in several penalties, including fines and even prison time.
If you're facing a driving while intoxicated (DWI) or related charge, you may find yourself facing a complex web of court dates, paperwork, driving restrictions, and many other obligations.
Hiring a DUI attorney is one way to understand your responsibilities after your arrest.
While you may be easily convicted because of your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test results, an attorney can still help you by:
- Going to court for you or with you.
- Filing the right motions, pleas, and other paperwork.
- Advising you on the best course of action to take.
To really understand how a DUI lawyer can be beneficial, it is helpful to learn more about getting a DWI.
There are many charges that can be considered DUI offenses, including:
- Driving while intoxicated (DWI): Blood alcohol content (BAC) is at least 0.08%.
- 0.04% BAC for commercial drivers.
- Driving while ability impaired by alcohol (DWAI-Alcohol): BAC is over 0.05% but under 0.07%.
- Aggravated DWI: 0.18% BAC or more.
- Refusing to take a chemical test.
- Zero tolerance violation: BAC of 0.02% to 0.07% if you're younger than 21 years old.
DUI attorneys typically have experience in handling the range of charges above.
Some lawyers may specialize in certain types of cases, such as zero tolerance cases for younger drivers.
The penalties for DWI charges depend on the type of charge you get and any prior DWI or similar convictions on your driving record.
Penalties for most charges include:
- A mandatory driver's license revocation or suspension.
- Revocation: Your NY driver's license is cancelled and you must reapply when you are eligible.
- Suspension: Your license is invalid during the suspension but can be reinstated afterward.
- A mandatory fine.
- Jail time.
Your DUI attorney can possibly help you avoid these penalties or have them reduced.
Driver's License Penalties
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will revoke or suspend your driver's license for the required period of time based on your conviction, for example:
- DWI/DWAI: Revoked for a minimum of 6 months or more.
- DWI/DWAI 2nd offense: Revoked for a minimum of 1 year or more.
- Aggravated DWI: Revoked for a minimum of 1 year or more.
- Zero tolerance: Suspended for 6 months or more.
Additional penalties are explained below.
The criminal court will impose fines and/or jail terms.
Fines and jail terms usually have ranges or a maximum allowable sentence.
The court determines your penalty within these restrictions. For example:
- The fine for a DWI/DWAI is $500 and up.
- The jail sentence for a DWI is 30 days and up.
Based on your lawyer's experience with other cases, he or she might be able to give you an idea of what fine or sentence you can expect.
While you may not be able to avoid these penalties, knowing what to expect can be invaluable.
Cost of a DWI
DWI convictions are very expensive. Not only will you pay the court-ordered fine, you may also:
- Pay additional surcharges.
- Have higher car insurance rates.
- Lose income if you're sentence to jail.
The expense of a DWI might keep some people from hiring a lawyer; however, having an attorney who knows the court system and really understands your case can help you get the best possible result.