If you got caught driving drunk in Pennsylvania, it might seem like hiring a DUI defense lawyer isn’t worth it. You made a mistake, got caught, and now it’s time to face the consequences. Right?
Even if you were driving drunk, there are still many ways an experienced DUI defense lawyer can help you. There are defenses you can assert regardless of whether you were driving drunk; while your best option might be to focus on negotiating a plea bargain, you may also have options for avoiding a conviction entirely.
Why It’s Worth Hiring a DUI Lawyer if You Got Caught Driving Drunk in Pennsylvania
When facing a DUI charge in Pennsylvania, you must avoid making assumptions about what might happen at trial. Even if you were driving drunk, the outcome of your case is not a foregone conclusion. With this in mind, here are seven reasons to hire a DUI defense lawyer regardless of the facts of your case:
Reason #1: The Prosecution Has the Burden of Proof
Under Pennsylvania law, the prosecution has the burden of proof in all criminal cases. This means that to secure a conviction; prosecutors must be able to prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If they can’t, you are entitled to a “not guilty” verdict regardless of whether you were driving drunk.
When you hire a DUI lawyer to represent you, your lawyer will carefully analyze all available evidence. Your lawyer will also determine if you have grounds to keep any of the prosecution’s evidence out of court (more on this in a minute). In many cases, it will be possible to avoid a DUI conviction not by proving your innocence but by showing that prosecutors can’t prove you are guilty.
Reason #2: The Police May Have Violated Your Constitutional Rights
You have constitutional rights before, during, and after a DUI stop in Pennsylvania. If the police violated your constitutional rights at any time, this may entitle you to have key evidence withheld from your case. For example, if the police stopped you without “reasonable suspicion” (i.e., if they profiled you), all of the evidence obtained during your DUI stop may be inadmissible under the Fourth Amendment. If the police questioned you in custody without reading your Miranda rights, you may be able to avoid a conviction even if you admitted to driving drunk.
Reason #3: You May Qualify for a Diversion Program
Let’s say prosecutors have enough evidence to meet their burden of proof and let’s also say that all of their evidence is admissible in court. Even in this scenario, you have options available.
If you are a first-time offender, one option may be entering a diversion program. While there are steps you will need to take to complete the program successfully, your DUI case will be dismissed once you do. Crucially, if you qualify for a diversion program, you can enter the program regardless of the underlying facts of your case.
Reason #4: Your DUI Lawyer May Be Able to Get Your Charge Dismissed Before Trial
From inadmissible evidence to procedural miscues by the prosecution, several issues can entitle you to dismissal before trial, regardless of the facts of your case. If you have grounds to seek a pretrial dismissal, this could be the fastest and cheapest option for avoiding a conviction. But, to determine if you have grounds to pursue a pretrial dismissal—and to assert these grounds successfully—you will need an experienced DUI lawyer.
Reason #5: Your DUI Lawyer May Be Able to Negotiate a Plea Deal
Sometimes, it’s not possible to avoid a conviction entirely. Suppose you don’t qualify for pretrial diversion and you don’t have a realistic way to challenge the prosecution’s evidence against you. In that case, your best option may be to negotiate a plea deal that minimizes the consequences of your drunk driving arrest.
In most cases, negotiating a plea deal in a DUI case means pleading guilty to a “wet reckless.” The consequences of a “wet reckless” conviction are not nearly as severe as having a DUI on your criminal record. Your lawyer can help you decide if seeking a plea deal is your best option, and if it is, your lawyer can negotiate with the prosecutor’s office on your behalf.
Reason #6: You Might Not “Just” Be Facing a DUI Charge
Another essential reason to hire a DUI defense lawyer, even if you were driving drunk, is that you might not “just” face a DUI charge. Drunk driving arrests can also lead to various other charges, and if you are facing multiple charges, you will need to defend against them to avoid unnecessary consequences successfully.
For example, charges for open container and implied consent violations are standard and carry steep penalties. If you caused an accident while driving drunk, you could face a felony DUI charge or a charge for aggravated assault or homicide by vehicle—which will significantly raise the stakes of your case.
Reason #7: You Have Too Much At Stake to Take Unnecessary Chances
Finally, no matter your charges, you cannot afford to take unnecessary chances. You have legal rights and defenses available—and you need to use them. An experienced DUI lawyer can help protect you by all means available, and you can get started with a free, no-obligation consultation.
Discuss Your Case with Philadelphia DUI Defense Lawyer Brian Fishman
If you are facing a DUI charge in the Philadelphia area, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free, no-obligation consultation about your case. To speak with DUI defense lawyer Brian Fishman in confidence as soon as possible, call 267-758-2228 or request an online appointment.