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Is Pleading Guilty Ever Advisable For A DUI Charge In Pennsylvania?
With most DUI charges, simply pleading guilty means you’ll automatically go to jail, receive the maximum license suspension, pay thousands of dollars in costs and be scarred with the label of a DUI conviction on your record forever. And I mean forever; you can’t expunge a conviction until you’re 70 years old. If you get an ARD, which is accelerated rehabilitative disposition for first-time offenders, it can come off your criminal record, but you can’t get that if you just plead guilty; you’ll always have a record.
That means, future prospective employers will see two otherwise equal candidates, and pick the one without the DUI. Your insurance will also automatically increase thousands of dollars a year, so it’s ridiculous to roll over and die when there are defenses, alternatives or lesser punishments.
What Factors Would Enhance or Aggravate a DUI Charge to a Felony?
There are no DUI felonies in Pennsylvania; what increases the penalties is the level of alcohol and/or drugs in your system, and there are three different tiers. If you have drugs in your system or are impaired by drugs, it’s automatically the highest tier. If you have an accident with property damage, including your own vehicle, it goes to the middle tier, and a juvenile under 21 is automatically in the middle tier of punishment. In fact, if someone who is 20 years old had the same BAC or a BAC lower than the legal limit of 0.08 for an adult, they’ll be punished more than someone over 21 with the highest rate of alcohol in terms of license loss and other stuff.
Also, if you have children in the car, you’re not eligible for ARD, you are in the highest punishment bracket and you’re charged with a first degree misdemeanor automatically.
Are there Alternative Penalties to Jail Time For A DUI Charge?
In terms of jail alternatives, there is the possibility of in-home detention, but it’s always up to the judge, even if the district attorney approves. Sometimes there’s a mix; perhaps some in-home detention and some jail. If you’re a multiple offender in a higher bracket, you face state prison, and multiple offenders must have the interlock installed.
There are alternatives to just a flat state prison sentence, such as state intermediate punishment, which is a state-paid rehab program. Some counties have their own intermediate punishment programs for multiple offenders to get treatment through the county, so yes, there are some alternatives.
Why Should a Defendant Hire A Scientific Expert Like Yourself to Defend a DUI?
If you’re being charged with a crime, you want the lawyer with the most knowledge and experience to defend you. In DUI cases, you not only defend using the law, but you have to defend against the field sobriety test and blood test results. You want a 360 degree defense; if you’re only arguing the law, you’ve given up two-thirds of your case to the government. Do you want to walk into court with a lawyer who already has his arms and one leg strapped behind his back or do you want the lawyer who has all his limbs free and knows how to fight every aspect of your case?
In other words, you don’t go to the doctor who graduated last in his class and who commits malpractice often; likewise, if a lawyer takes someone’s hard-earned money and represent them on a DUI case, you need knowledge equal to or greater than the government in every aspect of the case or it’s malpractice. I’ve seen cases in which lawyers didn’t challenge the results and I found out later what was going on; they just did their client a disservice.
Can You Provide Some Examples of Cases That You’ve Handled?
I had a gentleman contact me for his fourth lifetime DUI arrest; three happened 25 years ago, in another state. It was a bad wreck; he could have easily died, but he didn’t. As a traveling salesman, if he lost his license, he’d lose his job. During the prelim, I asked to see the test results and the data from the hospital where my client was Life-flighted to and I noticed that the top of the tube had a purple top, meaning it didn’t have preservatives, but they tested the unpreserved sample six weeks later. I showed that to the district attorney and the DUI was dropped to impaired driving with no license lost. I saved his career just because I knew the color of the top of the tube and what it meant.
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