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A DUI is a serious offense which can carry severe penalties and have lasting consequences for those convicted.
There Are Three Categories Of Impairment
Impairment is related to the level of alcohol in one’s blood, or BAC. In Philadelphia, there are three levels of impairment: general impairment, high impairment, and highest impairment.
These distinctions determine what penalties will be faced by the driver. The penalties for each tier are outlined below for first time offenders:
1. General Impairment: BAC above .08%, but below .10%. These drivers will face 6 months’ probation and a fine of $300 in addition to up to 150 hours of community service and alcohol and drug classes as assigned by the judge.
2. High Impairment: BAC above .10% but below .16%. These drivers face mandatory incarceration for 48 hours, a fine of between $500 – $5,000, license suspension for 12-18 months, up to 150 hours of community service, highway safety courses, and possibly drug and alcohol treatment as assigned by the judge.
For a free legal consultation, call 215-515-3360
3. Highest Impairment: BAC above .16%. These drivers face a mandatory imprisonment for 72 hours, a fine between $1,000 and $5,000, required instillation of an ignition interlock device, loss of license for a period of 12-18 months, attendance at a highway safety course, 150 hours of community service and drug and alcohol treatment.
With Each Subsequent Arrest, The Penalties Increase Significantly
For example, someone who is charged with a second DUI who has a high impairment BAC level faces mandatory incarceration for 30 days, a fine of up to $5,000, and a one-year ignition interlock device requirement in addition to community service and classes.
DUIs Are Not Only For Those Driving Under The Influence Of Alcohol In A Car Or Truck
Driving under the influence includes driving with alcohol or drugs (either illegal or prescription) in one’s system which causes the driver to be impaired.
With drugs, it is more difficult to collect a specimen from the driver because blood tests are not as readily available as breathalizers.
Also, DUIs can be charged for those driving motorcycles, machinery such as a trailer or forklift, boats, and even jet skis.
DUIs Are Extremely Costly
First time DUI convictions vary in cost, but can exceed $15,000.
Not only do those convicted of DUIs have to pay for court costs and fees assessed by the judge, but there are many other hidden costs which are not so obvious.
The cost of a DUI attorney can vary – there are those who will simply meet a defendant and assist them with a plea deal for a low fee; or there are those who will fight vigorously to defend their client for a slightly higher cost.
There is also the cost of license reinstatement fees and possibly paying for the hearing to reinstate one’s license, which can add up to a few hundred dollars.
Also, if the judge assigns alcohol treatment or highway safety classes, the defendant must pay for those as well. Time spent in jail or rehab can reduce paychecks, or even result in being fired from the job.
After being convicted of a DUI, insurance rates increase significantly. If the judge requires an ignition interlock device, instillation can cost over $100, and monthly fees for service appointments are usually $80.
Finally, the defendant will likely have to pay a monthly probation fee, which can range from $30 to $80 on average, as well as out-of-pocket payments for drug or alcohol tests required by a probation officer.
DUIs Can Cause Uncertainty And Stress Due To The Length Of Time It Takes To Resolve The Case
Those who do not have experience with the legal system sometimes get the idea that court cases are quickly resolved. This is far from the truth.
Even simple DUI cases can take months or even over a year to resolve. During this time, the defendant undergoes stress and uncertainty about what will happen to their case.
The process is lengthy for many reasons. After a DUI arrest, the arresting officers must gather their reports and submit them to the prosecuting attorney, who will determine whether to press charges.
Then, other evidence must be collected, namely specimen tests. When specimens are collected during an arrest, they are usually shipped to a lab, sometimes outside of the state, to be analyzed. This process can take months.
Once all of the evidence is collected, the defense attorney must be given time to review it, begin negotiating with the prosecutors and, if necessary, prepare for trial.
It is not possible for all of these things to occur within a month or at the first court date.
There Are Many Defenses Available For DUIs
Many people believe that once arrested, there is no hope – they must face the consequences. This is simply not true.
A good DUI attorney can review the case to determine whether officers lawfully arrested the defendant, whether field sobriety and specimen tests were conducted properly, and whether the blood test results are accurate.
Even if there is strong evidence stacked against the driver, defense attorneys can work to find weaknesses in the prosecution’s case.
Contact Marni Jo Snyder Today
Those arrested on suspicion of a DUI must act fast.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for a DUI, contact Philadelphia attorney Marni Jo Snyder for a free consultation today at 215-515-3360 so we can begin working on your case.
There is too much at stake to face this charge alone.