In Delaware County, driving under the influence (DUI) is considered a severe offense. Fortunately, The judges and other fact-finders tend to be more lenient for first-time DUIs, understanding that there are first-time mistakes. They will still look at the unique factors, including the person’s other prior criminal history, whether there is anything else in their past or if this is truly their first criminal offense. They tend to understand that there are mistakes that are made by drivers, especially younger drivers, who have their first DUI.
First-time DUI defendants often make the mistake of over-explaining where they were coming from, where they were going, and why they were driving. Also, because they do not have a lot of experience interacting with police officers, they might make the mistake of submitting to searches of their vehicle where they should not and do not need to.
If you have been charged with driving under the influence, it is best to reach out to a seasoned Delaware County first-offense DUI lawyer. A knowledgeable DUI attorney could review the facts of the case and help first-time offenders avoid the harsh consequences of a conviction.
A first-time offense in Delaware County can have a range of penalties depending on the level of intoxication the person was under. If it was slightly above the legal limit, between 0.08 and 0.10 blood alcohol content, then they will receive mandatory six months probation, a fine of $300, alcohol and highway safety school, and no license suspension. They will also have to take a full drug and alcohol assessment, as indicated by their court evaluation.
If a person has a higher BAC level between 0.10 and 0.16, then this is a misdemeanor which has a consequence of 48 hours to six months in jail mandatory, a $500 to $5,000 fine, alcohol and highway safety school, and license suspension for 12 months.
If the person is at 0.16 BAC or higher or intoxicated under the influence of marijuana or other drugs, the penalty is 72 hours to six months in jail mandatory, a $1,000 to $5,000 fine, alcohol and highway safety school, and license suspension for 12 months.
In Delaware County, if a person has either medium or high levels of alcohol or drugs in their system, then they will have their license suspended. At the time the conviction is entered, either after a trial or a guilty plea, then the court will send a notice to Penn-DOT, the licensing bureau in Pennsylvania, to say that the person should have their license suspended.
They will then receive a notice in the mail saying that they have been found guilty and that their license will be suspended on a certain date, and they will be given a time period. Their license suspension will not actually start counting until they turn in their license.
Prosecutors handle DUI charges for the first time with an understanding that there are some initial mistakes and simple over-intoxication without an ongoing problem, and they do understand that this happens. They also understand that a criminal record can be a severe impact for people for a first-time offense, and they also tend to look at the nuances that different DUIs are different. Some involve accidents, some involve property damage, some involve BAC slightly over the limit, and some DUIs involve being three or four times over the legal limit. With that in mind, there are some first-time offender programs that the prosecutors may offer to DUI defendants in Delaware County.
One of the main diversion programs for people who have a first-time DUI offense is the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. This program allows people to complete conditions, community service, pay fines or anything else required, and be under supervisions for either 6 to 12 months. After that, their case will be expunged from the court record. If the offender chooses to complete the ARD Program, then they can have their license suspended for a shorter amount of time or not at all.
The ARD program is only available to certain first-time offenders. This is for people who were not involved in an accident that hurt someone or charged with misdemeanor DUI only and does not have a prior criminal history, as that makes them ineligible.
A DUI conviction leads to an automatic license suspension, and Penn-DOT has no authority to change the criminal court’s ruling. If they want to keep their license, the person’s best option is to fight their driver’s license suspension in the criminal court.
All drivers should be aware that if they refuse to take the chemical test, they will have their license suspended under the Motor Vehicle Code. If they refuse the chemical test and are having their license suspended for that reason, then they should make sure that they let their attorney know because they may be able to challenge the suspension in civil court. Additionally, they could ask for a supersedeas, which means a delay of their license suspension, so that they may challenge that license suspension in criminal court.
An experienced Delaware County DUI lawyer could start building a defense immediately after the stop. Starting with the reason for police interaction, a DUI attorney could check if there is any legal reason for the officer to interact with the defendant, and then, from there, move into other challenges to the evidence and to the officer’s reasoning and their investigation.
Call today to learn more about how a Delaware County first-offense DUI lawyer could help your case.