You are reading this because either you or someone close to you has been arrested for a DUI, Homicide by Vehicle While DUI, or Aggravated Assault While DUI. You have questions. You need answers. You need them now. You need the Best Pennsylvania DUI Defense Lawyer you can find.
We have answers to your questions. We have the specialized training in DUI defense that you need. You are encouraged to read this article on how to find the best DUI lawyer for your case. We have a national reputation for defending DUI cases. Our former clients speak very well of us. We use our training every day to put our clients in a position to get the best outcome based on the facts of their case.
Our Pennsylvania DUI Defense Team
We work as a team to defend you. Brian Manchester is a national and statewide lecturer on DUI defense issues. He has hands-on lab training in testing blood for alcohol and drugs, as well as advanced training in field sobriety testing. Karen Kuebler is the former District Attorney of Clinton County, a former Public Defender in York County. She has prosecuted and defended thousands of DUI cases. This gives her the ability to see a case from both sides which is a great asset to our clients. Greg Davidson started defending DUI cases from day one of his career and has argued DUI issues three times at the State Supreme Court. Greg also has hands-on lab training in blood and drug testing as well as field sobriety testing. Kimberly Lennox, admitted to practice in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, brings a wealth of experience as a former public defender. Actively involved in the legal community, she is also a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association. Ian Hausner has been practicing law since 2019, with a background as a former Assistant District Attorney as well as a current member of the Blair County Bar Association.
This type of experience, training, and team-based approach is the best way to defend DUI cases. The prosecutor has a team; therefore, so should you. Please do your research on us and then call us right away. It does not matter if you have been charged with a first offense DUI or Homicide by Vehicle While DUI. All DUI cases are complex and should not be treated as routine. It will be one of the most important calls you ever make. Contact our team for a free consultation at our toll free number (800)-243-4878.
A wealth of information about Pennsylvania DUI law, along with questions and answers, can be found below. If you are facing DUI charges, use the buttons below to contact us and benefit from our expertise and experience.
DUI Crimes & General Information
- Driving Under the Influence - General Impairment
- Driving Under the Influence with a BAC between .08-.10
- Driving Under the Influence with a BAC between .10-.16
- Driving Under the Influence with a BAC over .16
- Driving Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance
- Driving Under Suspension
- Aggravated Assault while DUI
- Homicide by Vehicle while DUI
- First Offense DUI
- Second Offense DUI
- Third Offense DUI
- Fourth Offense DUI
- Boating While Intoxicated
General Impairment DUI:1. This is also called driving while impaired. The Commonwealth must prove that you consumed enough alcohol that it made you incapable of driving safely and that you then, drove, operated, or were in actual physical control of a vehicle. There is no specific blood alcohol concentration (BAC) needed for this offense. How much alcohol is needed to make you incapable of driving safely differs for every person. This means you can still be charged with this offense even if your BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) level is below the legal limit.
Blood Alcohol Limit:2. This is also called the per se charges. Measurement of BAC (Blood Alcohol Content): The government must prove your BAC level to be equal to or greater than .08% within two hours of driving, operating, or being in actual physical control of a vehicle. The Commonwealth does not have to prove an offender was incapable of driving safely, only that the BAC was above .08% within two hours of last driving or being in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle. In Pennsylvania BAC is determined by either blood or breath testing - no other testing method is approved. This DUI offense has increased penalties depending upon the amount of alcohol in your blood. If the BAC is .08-.10, or if a blood test is refused,, it is a tier 1 offense. If the BAC is between .10-.159 or you there is an associated road traffic accident that causes property damage, it’s a tier 2 offense. If BAC is .16 or higher or you refused a breath test or a search warrant for your blood, that’s a tier 3 offense. The higher the tier, the more severe the punishment can be if convicted. Please refer to the PA DUI Sentencing Chart. (hyperlink this to the DUI sentencing chart in the criminal resources section) On the criminal complaint Driving While Impaired is often shortened to General Imp. in places on the criminal complaint. Often when I speak to new clients on the phone, they ask me what does General Imp. mean? Well, it is shorthand for General Impairment. That charge is what I call the old-fashioned drunk driving charge. Above we spoke about general impairment in legal terms. Now, what does that mean in English? It means a person is guilty if they drank enough alcohol that a fact finder, Judge, or Jury, believes they can’t drive safely. What it does not mean is a person has to be drunk. It means a person cannot have consumed enough alcohol so that they can’t safely drive. Safely driving is a subjective call. That is where the defense comes in. It also does not mean a person cannot stand on one foot and be stiff as a board. It does not mean a person who cannot walk a straight line in a way no normal person walks. What the police do not tell you is that the field sobriety tests that they administer are only gauges of a person’s blood alcohol content. They even say that in the Field Sobriety testing manuals. One of the scientists who worked to standardize these tests, Dr. Marceline Burns, even testified to that. This is why knowing what the tests are about gives you an edge in defending DUI cases. Then there are the Blood Alcohol Content DUI charges. You are guilty of a Pennsylvania DUI IF the government can prove your blood alcohol content over one of the levels mentioned above. Please note that I said IF they can prove the blood alcohol levels. There are many issues related to blood testing that can be found by a lawyer trained in what to look for. They are not always there but they are there quite frequently. Please refer to my blog How to Expose Bad Blood Tests in Pennsylvania Alcohol DUI Cases.
Prescription Drug DUI Cases in PennsylvaniaTime and time again I speak to new clients and they don’t understand how they can be charged and possibly convicted of a DUI based on them taking their legally prescribed drugs. Well, they can. Pennsylvania law states that if a person is impaired on drugs they are guilty of DUI. Doesn’t matter if they are prescribed or not. In fact, the law treats being impaired on drugs in Pennsylvania as the highest tier of punishment. That is right. If a person is impaired on alcohol they get punished in the lowest tier of punishment. If it is a first offense and a person is impaired by alcohol they get probation and no license loss. However, if they are impaired on their prescription pain pills, or Xanax they go to jail for a minimum of three days and lose their license for one year. Definitely not equal treatment. If it is a second or third offense DUI the punishments get really harsh. It can result in a felony conviction for a third offense. That is bad news. The good news is there are many defenses to these cases. People are prescribed medication because they are ill. A person may be prescribed Ritalin because they have problems concentrating. Some people are prescribed Oxycodone because they were in a bad accident and have constant pain. There are many scenarios as to why people are prescribed medication. Some people are prescribed Zoloft because they are suffering from depression. With the medications people live more normal lives. They can focus more, they feel happier. They can move around with less or no pain. As to driving they can definitely function better. But then they get pulled over for a tail light out. Not turning on a turn signal or speeding. Then once a police officer finds out they are on prescription drugs they have them step out of their car and perform tests that in no way resemble how humans walk and stand. Then a mere traffic infraction turns into a DUI arrest. There are many defenses to prescription drug DUI in Pennsylvania. Many more than alcohol and there is far less stigma surrounding prescription drug DUI cases because many jurors and judges take prescription medication or know people who do. Therefore, they can see themselves in the potion of the defendant.
Illegal drug DI cases in PennsylvaniaThere are four categories of illegal Drug DUI cases in Pennsylvania. Being impaired by them. Merely having them in a person’s blood regardless of impairment. Having schedule 2 or 3 drugs in your blood but without a prescription and lastly, having these drugs in your blood in combination with alcohol. Being impaired is easy to understand. If a person takes illegal drugs and they are impaired by them they are guilty of a Pennsylvania drug DUI, Then, there is having a Schedule 1, or unprescribed drug in your blood. That is an automatic DUI even if a person is not impaired. The most frequently used drugs that can get a person in trouble for this are Heroin, methamphetamines, and marijuana. The third category of Pennsylvania drug DUI comes from having unprescribed Schedule 2 or 3 drugs in your blood. These are drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone used for pain medication when prescribed and abused when unprescribed. The last category of illegal drug Dui is when they are in combination with alcohol. Even if a person’s blood alcohol level is lower than .16, having illegal drugs or their metabolites in a person’s blood takes the punishment to the highest level. Even if it is only an inactive metabolite of the drug. For example, having Delta-9 Carboxy (the inactive metabolite of marijuana) in your blood with a .085 blood alcohol content will be treated as being the highest level DUI.
Medical Marijuana DUI cases in PennsylvaniaAs in any drug Dui, if you are impaired it is illegal. What is very disturbing to medical marijuana patients is that our current DUI law in Pennsylvania makes it illegal to have THC or its metabolites in your blood. Even if you are not impaired. This is totally wrong. However, there have been some recent appeals court cases that make these charges easier to defend. Despite all of this there are many defenses to these cases. From the admissibility of the drug test results based on minimum detection levels all the way to whether or not the drug actually impaired a person. Each case is unique. When it comes to drugs a person can’t be put into general categories like they can if they are charged with an alcohol DUI.
- For a 1st offense, where there is no alcohol in your system, you will face a fine of $500 AND a jail sentence of between 60 and 90 days AND an additional license suspension.
- For a 2nd offense, where there is no alcohol in your system, you will face a fine of $1000 AND a jail sentence of 90 days AND an additional license suspension.
- For a 3rd or subsequent offense, where there is no alcohol in your system, you will face a fine of $2500 AND a jail sentence of at least 6 months but not more than 12 months AND an additional license suspension.
- For a 1st offense, you will face a fine of $1000 AND a jail sentence of 90 days AND an additional license suspension.
- For a 2nd offense, you will face a fine of $2500 AND a jail sentence of at least 6 months but could go up to 12 months AND an additional license suspension.
- For a 3rd or subsequent offense, you will face a fine of $5000 AND a jail sentence of at least 2 years but could go up to 5 years AND an additional license suspension.
- For a 1st offense, this is a summary traffic offense, which will result in a $200 fine AND an additional license suspension.
- If this is your 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th offense, you will face a fine between $200 and $1000 AND a possible jail sentence of up to 6 months AND an additional license suspension.
- If you are facing a 6th or subsequent offense there is a fine of $1000 AND a jail sentence of at least 30 days but not more than 6 months AND an additional license suspension.
The Overbreadth DefenseThe issue of overbreadth of the DUID statutes in relation to THC was dealt with in Commonwealth v. Etchison. In that case, the defendant argued that Section 3802(d)(1) of the DUID law was unconstitutionally overbroad. The Superior Court ruled that the statute was not overbroad. Here is the key wording that the Superior Court used in finding the statute was not overbroad, and it is also the key wording to argue that Section 3802(d)(1) is now unconstitutionally overbroad in relation to defendants who are certified medical marijuana patients under the Medical Marijuana Law: As our Supreme Court has explained, “[a] statute is ‘overbroad’ if by its reach it punishes constitutionally protected activity as well as illegal activity.” Commonwealth v. Barud, 545 Pa. 297, 305, 681 A.2d 162, 165 (1996). If it does not reach both categories of activity, ‘then the overbreadth challenge must fail.’ Costa, 861 A.2d at 362. There is no constitutional right to the use of marijuana prior to driving; indeed, under Pennsylvania's Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, 35 P.S. § 780–101 et. seq., which has not been deemed unconstitutional, an individual is prohibited from any use of marijuana. Thus, Appellant's challenge to 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3802(d)(1) must fail. Now our General Assembly has created legal uses for marijuana and THC. The Medical Marijuana Law specifically sets forth the General Assembly’s policy on this matter. In part, the General Assembly states that scientific evidence suggests that medical marijuana is one potential therapy to mitigate suffering in patients, a carefully regulated program will enhance patient safety, and that the legislation’s goal is to provide access to medical marijuana that balances the needs of patients and promotes patient safety. In Etchison, the Superior Court cited our Supreme Court’s decision in Commonwealth v. Barud. I believe the Supreme Court’s two-prong analysis for determining whether a statute is overbroad is met as applied to Medical Marijuana Act patients. In fact, under the two-pronged test set forth in Barud, I would argue that Section 3802(d)(1) charges in relation to THC are unconstitutional to people who consume marijuana illegally now. However, a defendant with THC in their system should not be challenging the constitutionality of this statute. It should be a defendant who is a registered medical marijuana user whose case should be the first challenge Section 3802(d)(1) under the new law. The second defense comes from some recent case law. There have been two cases decided in early 2020 that in combination say that if a medical Marijuana Patient is complying with the Medical Marijuana Ac then the THC in your system is not schedule one and thus not an automatic DUI. That goes for the metabolites as well. What does complying with the Medical Marijuana Act mean? It means using edibles or vaping and keeping your medicine in its original packaging from the dispensary. No smoking the leaf in a pipe or bong and storing and transporting the medical marijuana in anything other than what it was packaged in when leaving the dispensary. The Medical Marijuana Act is currently a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing, in that it brings Pennsylvania out of the dark ages in terms of modern science’s understanding of the medicinal properties of marijuana. It will also allow our sickest citizens to come out of the dark and obtain their marijuana legally and avoid the dangers of illegal marijuana purchased on the street. It will also save our sickest citizens from marijuana possession charges. However, it will make them violators of our DUI laws which are worse and have more collateral consequences than marijuana possession charges. Until our DUID laws change, either through aggressive defense of the citizen accused or our legislature waking up and realizing that the DUI laws need to be modified, medical marijuana patients are in serious jeopardy of criminal and collateral consequences under this new law.
DUI Defense Questions & Answers
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test: This test is done with a pen or small light to examine the movements of the pupils of the eyes. If your pupils involuntary move during this test it could be a sign of impairment.
- Walk and Turn Test: This test is a nine step, heel to toe, straight line walking test, and is used to measure coordination and balance to show signs of impairment.
- One Leg Stand Test: This test involves standing on one leg with the other leg about six inches off the ground, while counting out loud. This test is also used to measure coordination and balance to show signs of impairment.
- Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD)
- Restrictive Punishment (RP) (formally known as County Intermediate Punishment (CIP or IP)
- Treatment Court (DUI Court or Drug Court)
- State Drug Treatment Program (SDTP) (formally known as State Intermediate Punishment (SIP))
- It removes the mandatory jail time required for DUI convictions
- It substantially reduces and can in certain situations eliminate license suspensions
- At the completion of the Program all of the charges placed into the Program are dismissed and you will not have a conviction on your Criminal Record for any of those charges
- Upon completing the program you will be eligible to expunge the charges that were placed into the program from your criminal record.
Each situation is unique to their set of facts. It’s important that you hire an experienced team to join you in the fight against the Government. The team at Manchester and Associates has decades of experience and training in fighting these types of cases. Should you find yourself in a situation where you need legal representation you need to contact criminal defense attorneys who know the law inside and out. To discuss your specific situation, contact our team for a free consultation at our toll free number (800)-243-4878 or through the contact tab at the top of the page.