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Is a DUI Lawyer Needed for the First Offense?
If you have been charged with driving under the influence, you can represent yourself, plead guilty, or hire a DUI lawyer to fight the charges. You might think that pleading guilty or representing yourself is fine since it is your first offense. However, even a first offense DUI is serious in Pennsylvania. The outcome of the case can haunt you for years to come. If you want to improve your chances of a successful outcome, consider hiring an attorney. Look at some reasons why this is the right choice.
Reasons to hire a DUI lawyer for a first offense
Pennsylvania has strict penalties for DUIs. Penalties increase for each subsequent DUI. However, even first-time offenders can expect to pay a hefty price for driving under the influence. Pennsylvania uses a three-tier penalty structure based on the blood alcohol content for DUIs. The most serious penalties for first-time offenders include a fine of up to $5,000, a 12-month license suspension, and up to six months in prison. Hiring a DUI lawyer puts people in the position to avoid some of the most serious consequences.
Reduce penalties and expunge the DUI
Pennsylvania offers the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program for some first-time DUI offenders. Once offenders complete the program, their record is expunged. That means the offense does not follow the defendant around. The district attorney determines who can enter the diversion program. Not everyone can enter it. A DUI lawyer can provide evidence to increase the likelihood of being admitted into the program and having the record expunged. While the penalties are generally less than if convicted of driving under the influence, defenders do not avoid penalties altogether. People must undergo probation, community service, and drug/alcohol screening. Also, the program includes fines, and participants must attend an alcohol highway safety school. Second- and third-tier offenders also face a license suspension of 30 to 60 days.
Mount a legal defense to dismiss or reduce charges
A DUI lawyer can investigate the charges and mount a legal defense. The right defense can get the charges dropped or reduced. People concerned about penalties understand the importance of fighting back against the charges. However, few people realize how many defense options there are.
Common defenses include inaccurate results from the breathalyzer, incorrect police reports, and illegal DUI checkpoints. Also, some people are stopped illegally or searched without probable cause. There have even been cases when people have been charged with DUIs when they were not driving. After gathering the evidence, the attorney will create the right strategy.
Learn the options
When you hire a DUI attorney, you can go over your options. Your attorney might think you are a good candidate for the Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition Program. You might also have a sound legal defense to dismiss the charges. After going over the defense strategy with you, your attorney will build the case to help you avoid strict penalties.
Call us at (412) 804-4048 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.
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Posted on: April 8, 2021 by Kim Bodnar