You might think that if you have been charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania, you need to face the charges alone, without help from a DUI attorney. However, an attorney can gather evidence to fight the charges. With an attorney’s help, you might be able to avoid penalties and fines. Your attorney needs to be part of the entire process, so you should retain counsel before your preliminary hearing. Go over the steps that occur when you are arrested for a DUI, along with the attorney’s role in the process.
When Pennsylvania residents are arrested for driving under the influence, they are processed and taken to a holding cell. While in holding, people are asked to submit a blood alcohol test. Because Pennsylvania is an implied consent state, refusal is an admission of guilt and the license is immediately suspended. However, those who take the test retain their license until going to court.
People must attend a preliminary hearing after a DUI arrest. The date of the hearing might be on the release paperwork from the initial arrest or could be mailed in the form of a summons. The hearing generally takes place 30 to 60 days after the arrest. Individuals should retain counsel immediately upon release from holding, so the lawyer can prepare for the preliminary hearing. While many think the hearing is just a formality, legal counsel might be able to reduce the charges or get them dismissed.
The pre-trial conference occurs after the preliminary hearing. The DUI attorney can submit pre-trial motions at this time. Possible motions include motions to dismiss, discovery motions and motions to suppress evidence. These motions are strategically used to improve the client’s outcome if the case goes to trial.
After the pre-trial conference, the DUI attorney will consider strategies to avoid trial. This can include a plea bargain. Some clients plead guilty to lesser charges. The attorney will provide legal guidance to help clients determine if a plea bargain is the right choice.
The attorney also might recommend Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition for first-time offenders. The two-year program includes criteria, such as supervision and attendance at an alcohol highway safety class. The judge can also order people to go to rehab if necessary. Upon the completion of the program, the charge is dismissed.
Some DUI cases go to trial. The DUI attorney will present evidence to weaken the prosecution’s case. After both sides present their cases, the jury deliberates and reaches a verdict. If guilty, the judge imposes a sentence.
If you have been arrested for a DUI, your freedom is on the line. Hire an attorney before your preliminary hearing. Along with helping at the hearing, your attorney might be able to reduce your charges and avoid going to court. If you do have to go to court, your attorney will fight for your rights and freedom.
Call us for more information from Kim A. Bodnar, Attorney at Law or to schedule a consultation in our office in Pittsburgh.
NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.