Scranton Drunk Driving Defense: Your First Offense

July 26, 2017

Scranton Drunk Driving Defense: Your First Offense

A first-time drunk driving arrest is an upsetting ordeal. Our experienced Scranton drunk driving defense lawyers are here to help you navigate the system, defend your rights, and work for the most favorable outcome in your particular circumstances, whether it’s your first offense or not.

Historically, a first-time drunk driving offense had generally been viewed as something of an honest mistake. While you weren’t likely to get off entirely scot-free, penalties weren’t extreme and you could usually expect just a slap on the wrist. That has changed in recent years, as anti-drunk driving advocates have campaigned for stricter laws and harsher penalties even for first-time offenders.

In Pennsylvania, it was only in 2003 that state legislators passed ACT 24, which lowered the state’s legal limit of alcohol from 0.10 to 0.08, which is the standard across the country.

Pennsylvania DUI Law

Act 24 created a tiered approach to DUI enforcement, which bases penalties such as jail time, suspension, and fines on prior offenses and other aspects of the alleged offense.

The new law does prioritize treatment over strict penalties, so this can bode well for first-time offenders. This does not mean that an attorney isn’t necessary. In fact, you could still face jail time and other serious punishments, which an attorney can help to minimize.

As noted by the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles, someone who is a first-time offender accused of having a blood-alcohol concentration of between 0.08 and .099 will be facing:

  • An ungraded misdemeanor;
  • Up to 6 months probation;
  • $300 fine;
  • Alcohol highway safety school;
  • Treatment if ordered.

However, if you have just one previous DUI conviction, you will face:

  • Ungraded misdemeanor;
  • 12 months license suspension;
  • 5 days and 6 months jail time;
  • Fine of $300 to $2,500;
  • Alcohol highway safety school;
  • Possible treatment;
  • Having to put an ignition interlock device on your car for a period of one year, at your own expense

However, if you have no prior DUIs, but are arrested with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.10 and 0.159, you will face:

  • Ungraded misdemeanor;
  • 12 months license suspension;
  • 6 months and 2 days of jail time;
  • $500 to $5,000 fine;
  • Alcohol highway safety school;
  • Possible treatment.

It is especially important for those who are arrested with these higher BACs to seek counsel because you will face more severe punishment. If you refuse to take the breathalyzer test—regardless of how many prior offenses—you run afoul of implied consent law. That will mean an automatic one-year license suspension.

Defenses in First-Time DUI in Scranton

The good news is DUI is a highly defensible offense. That means there are many different avenues we may pursue in your defense.

We may argue:

  • You were not impaired;
  • The stop was illegal (i.e., police did not have reasonable suspicion, etc.);
  • The DUI checkpoint failed to meet stringent legal standards;
  • The breathalyzer or field sobriety tests were incorrectly administered;
  • The breathalyzer test was improperly calibrated;
  • You were not actually the driver;
  • The report generated by police had statements or facts that were inaccurate.

A defense attorney can help you discredit the evidence against you and find information that will work in your favor, either to have the charge dismissed entirely or the penalties reduced.

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