Should I Hire a Lawyer for My First DUI?
If you have been charged with driving under the influence (DUI), you may be wondering what to do next. Your options may include defending yourself (always a bad idea), accepting assistance from a public defender, or hiring a lawyer. You might not think it is necessary to get a lawyer, especially if it is a first DUI, but the fact is you should always protect your interests and future by getting yourself an advocate who has the time and resources to give your case the attention it deserves.
Penalties for DUI depend on many factors, and not only whether it is a first or repeat offense. Under Pennsylvania law, an offender who is convicted of DUI may face substantial fines, license suspension, drug or alcohol education, probation, and even jail. DUI penalties have the potential to devastate your professional and personal life, with lasting negative effects. Having an experienced DUI defense lawyer on your side is an investment you can’t afford not to make.
Penalties for a First DUI Offense in Pennsylvania
Under Pennsylvania law, DUI charges may be made according to three levels of blood alcohol content (BAC):
- General Impairment (0.08 to 0.099 percent BAC);
- High BAC (0.10 to 0.159 percent BAC); and
- Highest BAC (0.16 and higher BAC).
Minimum penalties for first-time offenders at each BAC level include:
- General Impairment. A first offense is an ungraded misdemeanor, with up to six months of probation and a $300 fine. The law requires mandatory alcohol highway safety school, and the court may also order completion of a treatment program.
- High BAC. While also an ungraded misdemeanor, 48 hours in jail is mandatory, and other penalties may include a $500 fine, one-year license revocation, and mandatory attendance at alcohol highway safety school. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the court may also sentence the offender up to six months in prison and fines up to $5,000.
- Highest BAC. Penalties may be the same as those for High BAC, but minimum mandatory jail time is 72 hours and the minimum fine is $1,000.
You Need an Experienced DUI Defense Attorney for Your First DUI
Some first time DUI offenders choose a public defender to handle their case. They may do so because of financial concerns, or a failure to recognize the difference a private attorney may make for their outcomes. Unfortunately, even the most dedicated and hardworking public defenders have unsustainably large caseloads and simply cannot offer enough time and resources to every individual case.
DUI convictions may have serious legal consequences, especially for offenders involved in other types of proceedings, including domestic and immigration matters. Even if those circumstances do not apply to you, a conviction can still do irreparable harm to your reputation, employment, and family.
If you or a loved one have been arrested and charged with a first DUI, speak to an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as possible. Michael J. Skinner at Skinner Law Firm has successfully represented clients by negotiating with prosecutors and thoroughly investigating cases to establish all applicable defenses. Contact Skinner Law Firm at (610) 436-1410 or online to schedule a free consultation and learn if we may be able to help you.