If you are convicted of a DUI in Pennsylvania, you will face a long list of legal, financial and social issues. For example, almost every car insurance company includes a provision in their policies that will allow them to either cancel your policy or dramatically increase your rate after a DUI has been placed on your record. In order to avoid these issues, your best course of action is to ensure that you do not drive while you are under the influence of alcohol, narcotics or certain prescription medications. However, if you do find yourself dealing with a DUI charge, you should contact an attorney immediately.
Every state creates its own DUI laws, but certain aspects have been adopted almost universally. For example, if you are 21 or older in Pennsylvania, you will be considered legally intoxicated if your blood alcohol content is 0.08 or higher. Pennsylvania also prosecutes drivers under the age of 21 who have a blood alcohol level of 0.02 or higher. If you refuse to take a breathalyzer test, you could lose your license for 12 to 18 months, regardless of whether or not you are actually convicted of driving under the influence. Because of this, it always makes the most sense to take the test. After all, a skilled DUI attorney can discredit the test in court more easily than you can provide a satisfactory explanation for why you refused to take the test.
Pennsylvania has different tiers depending on your blood alcohol level and how many DUI convictions you already have. For example, as any Bucks County DUI lawyer can tell you, a first time offender with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 is likely to receive a $300 fine, but they will probably avoid jail time and a license suspension. On the other hand, if this is your third offense and you blow a 0.16 on the breathalyzer, you will be looking at the possibility of two years in jail, a $5,000 fine, a 12 month license suspension and a mandatory interlock ignition device for at least three months after your license has been reinstated.
Consequences of a DUI
If you are convicted of a DUI, you can expect to pay as much as $15,000 in fines and legal fees. As previously mentioned, it is likely that you will either lose your car insurance or deal with a significant price increase. It is also possible that you will lose your job as a result of your conviction, especially if having the ability to drive is a requirement of your employment. Many people who are convicted of a DUI also deal with social issues due to the stigma that is attached. After all, almost 10,000 people were killed by intoxicated drivers in 2011, and that accounts for 31 percent of all of the traffic fatalities that occurred in the U.S. that year. Therefore, it is common for other people to feel ashamed of anyone they know who is convicted of a DUI.
Everyone knows that staying sober or getting a ride home from someone else is the best way to avoid a conviction, but it is important to know what to do in case you are pulled over while you are intoxicated. Make sure that you do not admit that you have been drinking, and take a breathalyzer test if the officer asks you to. If you end up in jail, contact a DUI attorney immediately to protect your legal rights.
Freelance author Anthony Joseph enjoys writing about tough issues that impact young people, and is contributing this article toward the fight against DUI. Bucks County DUI lawyer Steven E. Kellis has many years defending and helping people fight DUI charges in the state of Pennsylvania. While your DUI case is pending, Attorney Kellis will take steps to build your case by further investigating and assessing the evidence for your defense.