If you’re seeking a DUI defense attorney in Pennsylvania, you probably have a lot of questions; many of which can’t be answered by a simple search online. Because DUI laws in Pennsylvania are different than in other states, it’s important to understand what your rights and responsibilities are and what the potential consequences are should you be arrested for DUI in Pittsburgh, Scranton, or anywhere else in the state. The following are 4 common questions that not everyone wants to come right out and ask:
Can I Refuse to take a DUI Test?
Pennsylvania DUI laws operate under Implied Consent, which means that just by driving a car in the state you are agreeing to consent willingly to a drug or alcohol test. This means that if an officer of the law suspects that you have been driving while under the influence, you have already given your consent to be tested merely by driving your vehicle.
However, you cannot be physically forced to take a test. Nevertheless, if you refuse you will automatically be found guilty of DUI whether you were actually under the influence or not, so it’s important not to take a principled stand if you’ve been wrongly accused. Additionally, if you refuse a test your license will be suspended for one year, which is a much harsher penalty than if you submitted to the test and were found above the legal limit (for a first offense).
Regardless of whether you’re under the influence or not, it’s always a wise idea to submit to a test upon request by an officer.
Can I Plead Guilty to a Lesser Charge?
Unlike other crimes, in Pennsylvania you cannot plead guilty to a lesser crime. For instance, some people wonder if they can plead their DUI charge down to something less, such as a speeding or other moving violation by negotiating with the district attorney’s office. This is simply not possible according to the law, so prosecutors couldn’t make this type of deal even if they wanted to.
Can I be tested for Drugs?
Yes. Pennsylvania DUI laws permit testing for drugs in addition to testing for alcohol, and policing programs have allocated budgets for highly efficient test kits to detect marijuana, cocaine and other drugs. Under the Implied Consent Law, by driving a car in the state you agree to consent to testing via saliva or cheek swab, blood test or urine test, some or all of which may be carried by the arresting officer. This means that a person can be charged with DUI related to smoking marijuana or other drugs, contrary to popular belief.
What are the Penalties?
If you’ve been charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania, you should know that the penalties are harsh and can completely disrupt your life. For the first offense, this includes 6 months of probation, a $300 fine, mandatory alcohol safety school, and possibly being remanded to a drug or alcohol treatment program. Second offenses carry a license suspension of one year in duration, 5 days to 6 months in jail, fines up to $2500, alcohol safety training, rehab, and an interlock ignition device for one year. Third convictions are severe and include jail time up to 2 years, fines up to $5000, being ordered to attend alcohol or drug rehab, and an interlock device for one year.
If you’ve been charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania, you need to seek professional counsel to ensure that your rights are retained and that the best possible outcome is achieved for your particular case. To speak to one of the State’s leading DUI attorneys, call (412) 454-5582 for an immediate, free consultation about your case and how we can help you right now.