The courts generally treat driving under the influence (DUI) charges very seriously. However, they also understand that not everyone is going to be a repeat DUI offender. There is some understanding that all types of people may push the limits to some degree and accidentally overindulge. If the court is provided the right information, it might be lenient when determining the sentence. The court is bound by certain mandatory minimums even on a first DUI.
DUI cases are heard in Montgomery County courthouse, which is the criminal court located in Norristown. It is the same location where more serious cases such as felony charges are heard. The case is treated as a criminal case.
If you have been charged with driving under the influence, let an experienced DUI attorney help your case. A Montgomery County first-offense DUI lawyer could review the facts of the case and help you build a defense. They could investigate the initial stop and whether the stop is admissible. Speak to a defense attorney as soon as possible following an arrest.
The level of leniency depends on the circumstances of the DUI charge. Based on the particular circumstances of DUI, the Court may consider leniency, or they might consider an aggravated sentence because of the seriousness of a DUI.
The penalties for a first-time DUI in 10 years in Montgomery County are based on a three-tier system with the mandatory penalties. The Judge has the power to impose a higher sentence. The Mandatory sentencing is:
With first-time DUI charges, the prosecutor is likely to handle the case with more leniency and may not ask for any sentence beyond the Pennsylvania sentencing guidelines. Additionally, the prosecutor could agree to have the person admitted into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program, which is a diversionary program for DUI offenders with no prior record. If the individual successfully completes the requirements of the ARD program, their case is expungable, and they will not have to keep that charge on their criminal record.
The ARD is offered to someone with a first DUI in 10 years. Their DUI is considered eligible when no one was seriously injured, and no young passengers were in the car. A person’s license is not suspended or is not suspended for a long time. Eventually, their case is eligible to be withdrawn and later expunged without any permanent criminal conviction. The real benefit of ARD is that the person pleads no contest, they do not fight the case. After completing the conditions of ARD, their case can be expunged from their record.
When a Montgomery DUI lawyer builds a defense for a first DUI, they identify their client’s priority and the risks to them. A person may lose their license and be unable to get to their job. That might guide the lawyer when building a defense. Then the lawyer looks at the trial issues in the case such as the legitimacy of the initial stop, the type of tests used, and the evidence.
Once the lawyer has an idea of the chances being successful at trial or with the issues, they talk to the client about their eligibility for diversion programs for first-time DUI offenders. The individual may be eligible for ARD or having their charge downgraded or reduced, so they do not lose their license and do not face jail time.
Schedule a consultation today to discuss your case with a Montgomery County first-offense DUI lawyer.