You got arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in Pennsylvania. What do you need to know? What do you need to do? What do you need to avoid doing to protect yourself? These are all critical questions, as mistakes and oversights can easily lead to unnecessary consequences.

Keep reading to find out what you need to know from DUI defense lawyer and former Philadelphia prosecutor Brian Fishman:

Understanding the Different DUI Charges in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is somewhat unique in that it establishes three “levels” of DUI offenses. When you are facing prosecution as a result of a drunk driving arrest, it is critical to make sure you have a clear understanding of the specific offense with which you have been charged—as this will play a role in determining both what penalties you are facing and what defenses you have available. Pennsylvania’s three levels of DUI offenses are:

  • General Impairment
  • High Rate of Alcohol
  • Highest Rate of Alcohol

Pennsylvania law also establishes separate offenses for DUI with a minor passenger, aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI, and homicide by vehicle by DUI. To learn more about each type of offense and the associated penalties, you can read: What Are the Different DUI Levels in Pennsylvania?

What to Do After a DUI Arrest

When you are facing a DUI charge in Pennsylvania, it is up to you to protect yourself. If you don’t take action, no one else is going to help you. You need to take your case very seriously, and you need to do everything you can to give yourself the best chance of securing a favorable outcome.

Protecting yourself starts with preserving as much information about your arrest as possible. You should write down everything you can remember—as numerous details could be relevant to your defense. For some tips on specific details to record and what else you can (and should) do to protect yourself, you can read: 7 Ways to Reduce the Costs of a DUI in Pennsylvania.

What Not to Do After a DUI Arrest

Protecting yourself after a DUI arrest in Pennsylvania also means avoiding costly mistakes. There are several mistakes you need to avoid—including common mistakes that people make in the immediate aftermath of their arrest.

Most importantly, under no circumstances should you assume that you will be found guilty. DUI cases can involve a variety of issues that give rise to strong defenses; and, no matter what happened, the prosecution always has the burden of proof. To learn more about what not to do when you are facing a DUI charge, you can read: 10 Costly Mistakes to Avoid After a DUI Arrest in Pennsylvania.

FAQs: Facing a DUI Charge in Pennsylvania

If you are like most people who have been arrested for DUI, you have lots of questions. DUI cases are complicated, and making smart decisions is not easy. Here are the answers to some of the questions we most commonly get asked during free initial consultations:

Should You Ever Plead Guilty to DUI?

You should never plead guilty to a DUI. If you plead guilty, your case will proceed straight to sentencing, and you will lose the opportunity to dispute the allegations against you. Even if you got caught driving drunk, there are better options available; and, if you are a first-time offender, you may be able to avoid penalties entirely by entering into Pennsylvania’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program.

Should You Request a Jury Trial?

There are both positives and negatives to requesting a jury trial in a DUI case. When you discuss your case with an experienced DUI lawyer, your lawyer will help you decide what makes the most sense based on your unique individual circumstances. It is also important to note that requesting a jury trial isn’t an option in all cases; and, even if you have the right to a jury trial, your best option might still be to try to resolve your case without going to court.

Should You Consider a Plea Bargain?

One way to resolve your case without going to court is to negotiate a plea bargain. While negotiating a plea bargain involves pleading guilty, it involves pleading guilty to a lesser offense than DUI (typically reckless driving), and it provides certainty with regard to the penalties you will incur. If ARD isn’t an option in your case and you don’t have strong grounds to fight your DUI, then seeking a plea bargain could be your best option.

What Defenses Can You Assert to Fight a DUI Charge?

There are several ways to fight a DUI charge in Pennsylvania. However, the specific defenses you can assert depend on the unique facts of your case—including the facts before, during, and after your arrest. While challenging the prosecution’s evidence of impairment is one option, there are several other DUI defenses to charges as well.

What Consequences Are You Facing After a DUI Arrest in Pennsylvania?

The consequences you are facing after a DUI arrest in Pennsylvania depend on your BAC, your criminal history (if any), and various other factors. Most first-time offenders can face probation, fines, mandatory alcohol education and treatment, and possibly a driver’s license suspension. However, the penalties for more serious violations and repeat offenders escalate quickly—and jail time is a very real possibility in many cases.

Do You Need to Hire a DUI Lawyer?

If you are facing a DUI charge in Pennsylvania, it is strongly in your best interests to put an experienced DUI lawyer on your side. There are many ways an experienced lawyer can help regardless of the facts of your case, and working with a lawyer to minimize the consequences of your arrest can be the most cost-effective option long-term.

Discuss Your Case with Philadelphia DUI Defense Lawyer Brian Fishman in Confidence

If you are facing a DUI charge in Pennsylvania, we encourage you to contact us promptly for more information. To discuss your case with Philadelphia DUI lawyer Brian Fishman in confidence, call 267-758-2228 or request a free consultation online now.