According to the Pennsylvania DUI Association, in 2019, alcohol-related crashes decreased to 9,380 from 9,811 alcohol-related crashes in 2018. However, 14% of the driver fatalities in the 16-20 age group were drinking while driving, making drunk and drugged driving a problem across the Keystone State and across age groups.
If you have been charged with drunk driving in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and are afraid you may lose your driver’s license, face an underaged DUI, be fined thousands of dollars, or worse, spend time in jail for driving under the influence, you’ll need legal advice fast.
At Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano, we understand how much a DUI charge can affect your future. Located in Scranton and serving clients throughout Lackawanna, Luzerne, Wayne, Monroe, and surrounding counties, our firm and Scranton DUI lawyers earned a reputation for successfully resolving cases involving Pennsylvanians and out-of-state drivers charged with DUI. If you are represented by us, we will strive to meet your legal needs every step of the way.
Understanding DUI Charges
In 2004, Pennsylvania lawmakers enacted Act 24 which revamped the state DUI laws in response to federal law. During this time, the BAC (blood alcohol content) threshold was also adapted to .08% to ensure the state would continue to receive federal highway funds.
These legal adjustments also altered the penalties of drunk-driving offenses.
The Penalties of a DUI Charge in PA
Following Act 24 legal changes, the state also adopted a tiered approach to DUI penalties. Such actions that you may undergo include:
- Ignition Interlock Devices: In an effort to prevent repeat DUI offenders from driving under the influence of alcohol, some judges in Pennsylvania require people convicted of DUI to install an ignition interlock device (IID), which is similar to a breathalyzer. A driver who has been drinking cannot start a vehicle with an IID connected to the vehicle’s dashboard.
- License Suspension: Not having a driver’s license for a year or longer can be a significant hardship, especially if you live in a smaller, rural community in Northeastern Pennsylvania. We understand how difficult life can be without a driver’s license – and that’s why we work hard to help our clients preserve their driving privileges.
However, depending on your BAC or the controlled substances in your system will determine what penalties you may face.
General Impairment penalties
For those who have an undetermined BAC or reading of .08 to .099% BAC, there are three tiers to penalties.
- For no prior DUI offenses, you may serve up to 6 months probation, pay a $300 fine, be required to attend alcohol highway safety school, or be ordered to treatment.
- For one prior DUI offense, the charge may be upgraded to a misdemeanor, have a 12-month license suspension, serve 5 days to 6 months in jail, be fined $300 to $2,500, be ordered to attend alcohol highway safety school, be ordered to treatment, and may be required to install a 1-year ignition interlock.
- For 2 or more prior DUI offenses, the charge may become a 2nd-degree misdemeanor, have a 12-month license suspension, serve 10 days to 2 years in prison, be fined $500 to $5,000, you may be ordered to get treatment, and install a 1-year ignition interlock.
High BAC penalties
A high BAC penalty is issued for those who had a BAC of .10 to .159% in their system.
- If you did not have a prior DUI offense, the charge can be upgraded to a misdemeanor, undergo a 12-month license suspension, serve 48 hours to 6 months in prison, be fined $500 to $5,000, be required to attend alcohol highway safety school, and may be ordered to undergo treatment.
- If you have 1 prior DUI offense, the charge may be upgraded to a misdemeanor, have a 12-month license suspension, serve 30 days to 6 months in prison, be fined $750 to $5,000; be required to attend alcohol highway safety school, may be ordered to undergo treatment, and be required to install a 1-year ignition interlock system.
- For 2 or more prior DUI offenses, the charge is upgraded to a 1st-degree misdemeanor, your license may be suspended for 18 months, serve 90 days to 5 years in prison, be fined $1,500 to $10,000; be ordered to treatment, and required to install a 1-year ignition interlock.
- For 3 or more prior DUI offenses, the charge is upgraded to a 1st-degree misdemeanor, your license may be suspended for 18 months, you may serve 1 to 5 years in prison, may be ordered to treatment, and can be required to install a 1-year ignition interlock.
Highest BAC penalties
If you are found with a BAC of .16% and higher or under the influence of a controlled substance, the penalties continue to increase.
- If you have no prior DUI or DWI offenses, your charge becomes a misdemeanor, your license may be suspended for 12 months, you may serve 72 hours to 6 months in prison, be fined $1,000 to $5,000; may be required to attend highway safety school, and be ordered to treatment.
- For 1 prior DUI offense, the charge becomes a 1st-degree misdemeanor, you may face an 18-month license suspension, serve 90 days to 5 years in prison, be fined $1,500 to $10,000; may be required to attend alcohol highway safety school, be ordered to treatment, and must install a 1-year ignition interlock.
- For 2 or more prior DUI offenses, the crime is upgraded to a 1st-degree misdemeanor, your license may be suspended for 18 months, face 1 to 5 years in prison, be fined $2,500 to $10,000; may be ordered to treatment, and be required to install a 1-year ignition interlock.
However, if you are a first-time offender, it’s important to know your eligibility rights with the Pennsylvania ARD Program.
What other issues need to be considered when charged with drunk driving? Do I need to hire the Scranton DUI Lawyers?
The rules and regulations involving Pennsylvania’s DUI laws are constantly changing, which is why it’s best to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after an arrest. To help you become aware of the legal implications of various DUI charges, visit the following sections of our website:
- Drunk driving tests
- Underage DUI
- Scranton College Students Charged with DUI
- Vehicular Homicide and Other DUI Accidents
“How can a lawyer help me if I’m charged with drunk driving in Pennsylvania?” – Scranton DUI Lawyers
We know that police sometimes pull over and arrest drivers who have blood alcohol concentrations below the legal limit or who have not even been drinking. But even if you were drinking and driving, you have many legal options available to you. Along with getting your DUI charge dismissed altogether, you could possibly have your penalty reduced and not be fined or incarcerated.
There are many different ways to accomplish your goals. We strive to help clients get an acquittal or a dismissal. In some cases in which there is strong evidence against a client, we work to minimize the damage of the charges. We may be able to work out an acceptable plea bargain that may include probation.
Possible defenses of a Pennsylvania DUI charge include:
- The driver did not appear to be “under the influence.”
- The driver’s blood alcohol content was not determined, there was no evidence of drugs, and the driver did not seem to be under “general impairment.”
- The driver’s blood alcohol content was not obtained.
- The Field Sobriety Tests were administered incorrectly.
- The driver was not informed properly of the implied consent laws.
“Why should I hire Scranton DUI Lawyers Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano for my DUI case?”
We don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to DUI cases in Scranton, Kingston, Carbondale, or wherever you were arrested for drunk driving. We want to meet with you and take the time to learn about the specific details of your case. After you meet with us and if you decide we are the right attorney for you, we will weigh the prosecutor’s evidence against you and apply the law to devise a solid legal strategy. Our detailed, hands-on approach consistently produces positive results in case after case.
Don’t wait another minute if you were arrested on a DUI charge. Remember, if this is your first offense, there may be ways to prevent you from having a criminal record. Contact our law firm right now for more information. We want to help you.