A conviction for driving under the influence, whether of alcohol or a controlled substance, carries significant costs, monetary and otherwise. Just to start, Pennsylvania mandates a minimum $300 fine for a DUI conviction, with a maximum of $500 as long as your blood-alcohol content (BAC) is below 0.10 percent. Even for first-time offenders, the fines go up from there if your BAC is higher, from $500 to $5,000 for a BAC between 0.10 percent and 0.159 percent up to $1,000 to $5,000 for a BAC of more than 0.16 percent.
These are just the fines. Court fees can range from $150 to more than $1,000. Probation fees can add another $35 per month at a minimum for at least six months, and it can cost as much as $88 to restore your license. Furthermore, the court may order first-time offenders to attend Alcohol Highway Safety School, at a cost of between $200 and $1,000. Depending upon your BAC, your court costs for a first-time DUI conviction could exceed $5,600. And that doesn’t include attorney’s fees.
A new state law that went into effect in August will add to those costs. For first-time DUI convictions, a driver with a BAC of 0.10 percent or more must install an ignition interlock system for at least a year. This system, which prevents a driver from starting a vehicle with a BAC above a certain level, costs about $100 per month, plus the cost of installation.
The new law, called Act 33 of 2016, requires any driver pulled over with a BAC of at least .10, or who refuses to be tested for alcohol, to install an ignition interlock system. The costs of this system run from $900 to $1,300 per year, and you also must have a driver’s license that identifies you as a DUI offender.
In addition to the costs outlined above, consider the secondary costs. For instance, your insurance premiums are likely to rise after you get a DUI conviction. These premium hikes can account for thousands a year.
In addition, you could sustain unpredictable costs—if, for example, you lose your job, lose working hours traveling to DUI school or probation appointments, or incur other such opportunity costs. Bankrate estimates that a single DUI without property damage can still cost about $20,000, after all is said and done.
If you were charged with DUI in the Philadelphia area, one of the first steps you should take is to consult a criminal defense attorney to explore your options. The costs of a conviction likely will far outweigh the costs of competent legal representation. Furthermore, competent legal representation can help you avoid the worst consequences of a DUI charge. The attorneys at The Skinner Law Firm can help. We are experienced in DUI and other criminal law matters. You can reach us at (610) 436-1410 or through our online contact form.
Checkpoints for driving under the influence—also known as DUI or sobriety checkpoints—are the most common type of police roadblocks most people will encounter. DUI checkpoints serve mainly as an opportunity for police to get a brief look at motorists to see if they appear intoxicated. The vast majority of drivers passing through a DUI checkpoint do little more than slow down or stop briefly before moving on. That pause allows the police to evaluate a driver’s condition, and run license plate numbers through the system to check for wants, warrants, or other alerts. That is all the police are allowed to do unless they see something that gives them probable cause to probe further.
Your constitutional rights still apply at DUI checkpoints. The police are allowed to stop you, but only long enough to look into your car from the outside. They are not allowed to search your car unless the brief stop gives them probable cause to believe that you are under the influence of alcohol or some other substance, if they see something potentially illegal during their look into your car from the outside, or if you agree to a search. If you aren’t visibly under the influence, do not have drugs, drug paraphernalia, or other illegal items in plain sight, and do not consent to a search, your stop will last only long enough to check and see that your driver’s license is valid. Usually, such stops last less than a minute. At such a checkpoint, you are not required to:
If you attempt to evade a roadblock or checkpoint, the police are likely to chase you and treat your evasion as probable cause to search without your consent. Also, if drug-sniffing dogs are present at the checkpoint, your options are limited. If the dog, outside of your car, indicates that drugs are present, that likely will serve as probable cause for a search.
Courts generally allow properly run DUI checkpoints. However, police do not have an automatic right to ask for your license and registration unless the stop results from an alleged driving violation. If the stop raises a reasonable suspicion of illegal activity, though, police may then ask for license and registration. If they have probable cause to believe there is a violation of the law, they can search you and your vehicle with or without your permission.
If you were arrested following a stop at a DUI checkpoint in the Philadelphia area, consult a criminal defense attorney to explore your options. The stop might have been incorrectly conducted or otherwise violated your rights in some way. The attorneys at The Skinner Law Firm can help. Reach us at (610) 436-1410 or through our online contact form.