In a recent article, we discussed seven factors that can increase the costs of a DUI in Pennsylvania. In that article, we covered issues like having a prior record or having an open container in your vehicle. But, while there are several factors that can increase the costs of a DUI, there are steps you can take to reduce the costs of your DUI arrest in Pennsylvania as well.
The risks of facing a DUI charge are substantial. In Pennsylvania, the potential penalties include fines and jail time—among many others. A DUI conviction can also have financial consequences that last for years after you serve your sentence. As a result, you need to fight your DUI charge by all means available, and you need to do everything you possibly can to minimize the consequences of your DUI arrest.
How You Can Help Minimize the Consequences of Your DUI Arrest
What can you do to protect yourself once you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence in Pennsylvania? Here are seven ways you can work to minimize the consequences of your DUI:
1. Write Down Everything You Remember from the Night of Your Arrest
One of the first things you should do is write down everything you can remember from the night of your arrest. In DUI cases, the facts matter, so the more facts you can recall, the better.
This includes facts related to the events before, during, and after your traffic stop. Some examples of details you should try to write down include:
- How much did you have to drink (if any)? How long was it between your last drink (if any) and the time you got pulled over?
- Why did the police officer say he or she pulled you over?
- What did you say to the police officer during your traffic stop?
- What did the police officer say about your legal rights regarding the breath test?
- Did you understand the officer’s instructions for performing the field sobriety tests?
- How were the road, traffic, and weather conditions at the time of your traffic stop?
- Where did your traffic stop take place?
- Did the officer read your Miranda rights, and if so, when?
These are just examples. You should take 10 to 15 minutes to write down everything you can remember, no matter how insignificant it might seem. Your defense lawyer will be able to examine the facts and determine which ones are relevant to your defense.
2. Take Your DUI Case Seriously
Another important way you can protect yourself is by taking your DUI case seriously. Regardless of whether you think you are innocent or guilty, you need to prioritize your defense. If you ignore your DUI case, if you get pulled over again, or if you assume that you will be able to walk into court and talk your way out of a conviction, you will be putting your finances and your future at risk unnecessarily.
3. Hire a DUI Defense Lawyer to Represent You
While many people assume that hiring a defense lawyer to represent them is expensive, hiring a lawyer is actually one of the best ways to minimize the costs of a DUI. While you will have to pay for your lawyer’s services, your lawyer will be able to work to reduce the costs of your arrest in various ways. As discussed in greater detail below, this may include:
- Getting your DUI charge dismissed prior to trial (in which case you will not face any penalties)
- Helping you take advantage of Pennsylvania’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program (which will also protect you against facing any penalties)
- Negotiating a favorable plea bargain with the prosecutor’s office
- Fighting for (and winning) a “not guilty” verdict at trial
4. Get Your DUI Charge Dismissed Prior to Trial
Depending on the facts of your case, you could have grounds to get your DUI charge dismissed prior to trial. This could be the case, for example, if the police violated your constitutional rights during your DUI stop. If the police obtained evidence in violation of your constitutional rights, prosecutors should not be able to use this evidence against you. If your defense lawyer can keep the prosecution’s evidence out of court, this could set the stage for your lawyer to file a motion to dismiss prior to trial.
5. Take Advantage of Pennsylvania’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program
Pennsylvania’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program provides another option for avoiding a conviction if you are a first-time offender. Even if you were driving under the influence, if you qualify for the ARD program (and you complete the program successfully), you will avoid a DUI conviction. Your defense lawyer can determine if you qualify for ARD; and, if so, your lawyer can guide you through the process.
6. Negotiate a Plea Bargain in Your DUI Case
Another option for reducing the cost of a DUI when you were driving drunk is to negotiate a plea bargain. In most cases, this involves pleading to a “wet reckless” traffic offense. If your defense lawyer is able to negotiate a “wet reckless” plea, this will substantially reduce the costs of your arrest—because the penalties for this offense are much less severe than the penalties for a DUI.
7. Work with Your Defense Lawyer to Seek a “Not Guilty” Verdict at Trial
Finally, even if you have to take your case to trial, working with your defense lawyer to secure a “not guilty” verdict will still be far less expensive than facing the long-term financial consequences of a DUI conviction. While there are never any guarantees in court, your defense lawyer can help you decide if going to trial is your best option; and, if it is, your lawyer can use his or her experience to protect you to the fullest extent possible.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Former DUI Prosecutor Brian Fishman
If you are facing a DUI charge, we encourage you to contact us promptly for more information. To schedule a free consultation with former Philadelphia DUI prosecutor Brian Fishman, call 267-758-2228 or contact us confidentially online now.