If you are arrested for a DUI in West Chester, you may face jail time, fines, and a driver’s license suspension upon conviction. But just because you’re charged doesn’t mean you’ll face the harshest sentence.

Fortunately, you may be able to negotiate alternative penalties with the help of a DUI lawyer. You may be able to avoid jail time altogether and keep your license if you act fast. These alternatives can minimize the impact of a DUI conviction on your daily life.

Will You Go to Jail for a DUI?

One of the biggest questions you may be worried about after getting charged with a DUI is whether you’ll serve jail time. However, you can fight the charges and seek an alternative sentence in several ways. DUI punishments depend on the circumstances of your case and could include jail time if the offense is severe, however.

How Are DUI Penalties Determined in Pennsylvania?

In most cases, potential DUI penalties are based on two major factors:

  1. The amount of alcohol or presence of drugs in your system. You may be subject to more severe penalties if your blood alcohol content (BAC) falls in the high (.10 to .159% BAC) or highest (.16% and higher) categories.
  2. Your DUI record. If you have previous DUIs, especially within 10 years of each other, the maximum possible sentence increases.

Alternative Sentencing in DUI Cases

There are a few types of alternative punishments you may be able to pursue after a DUI charge. Your attorney will look at the circumstances of your case and advise you on the best path forward. While it can be easier to secure an alternative sentence for a first-time offense, they also may be available for a subsequent offense in some cases.

Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD)

Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) is usually reserved for first-time DUI offenders. The program is intended to encourage offenders to start fresh after completion. Those who complete an ARD program can have their charges dismissed and expunged from their criminal record, keeping them out of jail. However, could still face administrative penalties such as losing your license for up to two months, and you’ll have to pay fines and serve probation for up to one year.

Not all first-time offenders qualify for ARD. You are not eligible if you:

  • Previously completed ARD
  • Were convicted of DUI within the past 10 years
  • Caused serious bodily injury or death as a result of a DUI
  • Had a passenger under 14 years of age in the motor vehicle

Drug & Alcohol Rehabilitation

If you aren’t eligible for ARD, you may be able to voluntarily enter drug or alcohol rehabilitation in exchange for leniency or to receive credit for another part of your sentence. Making an effort to seek treatment and doing so voluntarily says that you’re serious about getting help and not repeating the actions that brought you to court.

House Arrest

You may also be able to serve a DUI sentence under home detention, also known as house arrest. This is a preferable option over jail because it can allow you to serve out your sentence in the comfort of your own home. You can continue to go to work or school, and you may also be permitted to leave to attend treatment programs and other necessary appointments.

The argument for house arrest could be strengthened if you have a family or children you are responsible for. There may also be other special circumstances that make this an appropriate consequence, such as a chronic illness or disability.

If you are on house arrest, you may be required to take alcohol or substance tests at random and wear an electronic monitoring device on your ankle.

Ignition Interlock Devices and Other Alternatives

You could advocate for other alternative punishments for a DUI, such as installing an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. These devices prevent you from starting your car if your BAC exceeds a certain level. Ignition interlock devices are mandatory in some repeat DUI cases, but some courts may allow voluntary use of an ignition interlock device as an alternative punishment. You might also argue for more standard probation or community service over jail time.

Call Skinner Law Firm for Help Seeking Alternative DUI Sentencing

Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to avoid jail time through DUI sentencing alternatives. If you have been arrested for a DUI, it is critical to enlist the help of an experienced defense attorney to defend against the charges. Attorney Mike Skinner has years of experience fighting DUI charges in West Chester and has successfully argued alternative sentencing for many clients.

To learn more about alternative DUI sentencing, call (610) 436-1410 today or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation.

Article Author

Michael J. Skinner, the founder of Skinner Law Firm LLC, is a former prosecutor with the Chester County District Attorney’s Office.

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