West Chester

DUI Attorney

Many people who have been charged with a DUI are unclear on Pennsylvania’s laws, or how a conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can affect their futures. Although seemingly common, DUI charges can have grave effects on your career, education, and/or personal life. A conviction for drinking alcohol and driving can result in a driver’s license suspension, jail time, fines, and more.

If you have been charged with a DUI in Chester County, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who is knowledgeable about Pennsylvania’s DUI laws. Michael J. Skinner aggressively fights for each of his clients charged with drunk driving. With years of experience handling similar cases, he’s ready to help you.

Skinner Law Firm knows that entering a guilty plea for many clients is not an option, and will make every effort to avoid a criminal conviction for their clients. Call (610) 436-1410 today for a consultation with a DUI lawyer, or reach out online.

Drunk Driving Laws in PA

In many cases, factors other than alcohol intoxication or impairment from a controlled substance can lead to irregular driving or poor performance on DUI tests. These factors can result in driving patterns or behavior that initially indicates driving under the influence to a law enforcement officer. Such factors can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Disability or an underlying medical condition
  • Illness
  • Inattention
  • Mechanical problems

Pennsylvania’s Legal Limit

Effective September 30, 2003, the Pennsylvania legislature overhauled the Commonwealth’s DUI laws. The legal limit in Pennsylvania changed from a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of .10% to .08%. Known as the “per se” version of DUI, even if a driver is not actually impaired, they still may be considered driving under the influence based solely on the fact that their BAC was above the legal limit.

Even in cases in which a BAC is not available, the prosecutor can still attempt to prove DUI under a theory that the person was incapable of driving safely while operating or being in control of a motor vehicle because they had consumed alcohol or were impaired by a controlled substance.

our awards & memberships

  • A professional non-profit dedicated to the improvement of the criminal defense bar, and to providing valuable information to the public about drunk driving laws. Members of the NCDD are considered the most experienced DUI defense attorneys in the United States and Canada.

  • The preeminent organization in the United States. NACDL serves as a leader in identifying and reforming flaws in the criminal justice system, and addressing systemic racism, and ensuring that the criminal defense bar is fully equipped to serve all accused persons at the highest level.

  • PACDL is the premier network of the best defense attorneys in PA with a mission to educate, advocate, and inspire by providing support for criminal defense lawyers, promoting effective competence, leveling the playing field, and protecting freedoms.

  • The Pennsylvania Bar Association promotes and protects the legal profession, the rights of Pennsylvania citizens and access to justice for all. Membership is open to any lawyer in good standing who is licensed by the Bar of Pennsylvania.

  • The American Bar Association is one of the world’s largest voluntary professional organizations, with over 400,000 members and more than 3,500 entities. Their mission is to serve its members, the legal profession, and the public by defending liberty and delivering justice as the national representative of the legal profession.

  • The CCBA promotes professionalism, inclusion, and collegiality within the Chester County legal profession, and enhances the quality of life of its members and the practice of law within the community.

  • The NORML Legal Committee (NLC) is composed of attorneys committed to the overall goals of NORML. NLC attorneys meet each year to discuss emerging legal issues related to defense of marijuana consumers and to support each other in the pursuit of justice.

  • The American Institute’s Criminal Law Division is an impartial third-party rating service recognizing the excellence of fellow practitioners. To help clients across the United States make educated decisions, we compile an exclusive list of the “10 Best” Attorneys for each State. Our “10 Best” is a prestigious honor extended only to those who have reached the top of their profession while doing so with the client’s satisfaction being of paramount importance.

  • The American Institute’s DUI/DWI Division recognizes the excellence of practitioners in the field of DUI/DWI defense. We compile an exclusive list of the “10 Best” Attorneys for each State for potential clients to utilize. We look for Attorneys that have achieved unparalleled success but most importantly have done so for the benefit of their client. Very few Attorneys can do so and our organization recognizes this significant achievement.

  • Attorney Michael Skinner has been consistently recognized as among the best lawyers in Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties. Attorneys are nominated via peer balloting, then vetted through our editorial process in various fields of practice.

  • The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state. Membership is extended only to the most qualified attorneys who demonstrate superior qualifications of leadership, reputation, influence, stature and public profile. Each of our distinguished members possesses the knowledge, skill, experience, and success held by only the best and finest lawyers in America.

  • The Super Lawyers list recognizes no more than 5 percent of attorneys in each state. The Rising Stars further distinguishes no more than 2.5 percent of attorneys, and to be eligible, a Rising Stars candidate must be either 40 years old or younger, or in practice for 10 years or less who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.

Common DUI Charges & Penalties

Pennsylvania law provides for three umbrella categories of DUI offenses based on different levels of impairment. The consequences for offenses committed at each level of impairment increase as the driver’s BAC increases. According to Pennsylvania Statutes § 3804, the categories and penalties for first, second, and third DUIs are:

General DUI Impairment With a BAC of .08% to .099%

First DUI

With no prior convictions, a first DUI involving a BAC of 0.08% to .099% is considered an ungraded misdemeanor. Under Pennsylvania law, the courts will typically impose the statutory minimum sentence of six months’ probation and complete the following:

  • Pay a $300 fine
  • Successfully complete alcohol highway safety school
  • Complete alcohol or drug treatment, if ordered

Second DUI

With one prior DUI conviction, a second DUI involving a BAC of 0.08% to .099% is also considered an ungraded misdemeanor. The court will typically impose the statutory minimum sentence of five days in jail and complete the following special conditions:

  • A 12-month driver’s license suspension
  • A minimum of five days in jail (although the court can order up to six months)
  • Install an ignition interlock device (IID) for one year
  • Pay a fine between $300 and $2,500
  • Successfully complete alcohol highway safety school
  • Complete alcohol or drug treatment, if ordered

Third DUI

With two previous drunk driving convictions, a third DUI involving a BAC of 0.08% to .099% is considered a second-degree misdemeanor. Per PA law, the courts will typically impose the statutory minimum sentence of:

  • A 12-month driver’s license suspension
  • A minimum of 10 days in jail (although the court can order up to two years)
  • Install an IID for one year
  • Pay a fine between $500 and $5,000
  • Successfully complete an alcohol highway safety school
  • Complete an alcohol or drug treatment program, if ordered

High DUI Impairment With a BAC of .10 to .159%

First DUI

With no prior DUI convictions, a first DUI involving a BAC of .10% to .159% is considered an ungraded misdemeanor. Under Pennsylvania law, the courts will typically impose the following sentence:

  • A 12-month driver’s license suspension
  • At least 48 hours in jail (although the court can impose up to six months behind bars)
  • A fine between $500 and $5,000
  • Successful completion of alcohol highway safety school
  • Completion of alcohol or drug treatment, if ordered

Second DUI

With one prior conviction for drunk driving, a second DUI involving a BAC of .10% to .159% is considered an ungraded misdemeanor. If convicted, the courts will typically impose the following sentence:

  • IID for one year
  • A 12-month driver’s license suspension
  • At least 30 days in jail (although the court can impose up to six months)
  • A fine between $750 and $5,000
  • Successful completion of alcohol highway safety school
  • Completion of an alcohol or drug treatment program, if ordered

Third DUI

With two prior DUI convictions, a third DUI involving a BAC of .10% to .159% is considered a first-degree misdemeanor. As such, the courts will likely impose the following sentence:

  • A one-year installation of an IID
  • An 18-month driver’s license suspension
  • At least 90 days in jail (although the court can impose up to five years)
  • A fine between $1,500 and $10,000
  • Successful completion of alcohol highway safety school
  • If ordered, completion of a substance abuse program

Highest DUI Impairment With a BAC of .16% and Higher

First DUI

With no prior DUI convictions, first DUI involving a BAC of .16% and higher is considered a misdemeanor of the first degree. Under Pennsylvania law, the courts will typically impose the following:

  • Incarceration of at least 72 hours
  • Pay a fine between $1,000 and $5,000
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device for one year
  • A 12-month driver’s license suspension
  • Successfully complete alcohol highway safety school
  • Complete an alcohol or drug treatment program, if ordered

Second DUI

With one prior conviction for drunk driving, a second DUI involving a BAC of .16% and higher is considered a first-degree misdemeanor. Under PA law, the court will typically impose the following conditions:

  • A minimum of 90 days’ incarceration
  • Fines between $1,500 and $10,000
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device for one year
  • An 18-month driver’s license suspension
  • Successfully complete alcohol highway safety school
  • Complete alcohol or drug treatment, if ordered

Third DUI

With two prior DUI convictions, a third DUI involving a BAC of .16% and higher is considered a third-degree felony. Under Pennsylvania law, the courts will typically impose the statutory minimum sentence of:

  • At least one year behind bars (and up to seven years of incarceration)
  • Installation of an IID for one year
  • An 18-month driver’s license suspension
  • At least $2,500 in fines
  • Submit to DNA sample
  • Successfully complete alcohol highway safety school
  • Complete an alcohol or drug treatment program, if ordered

 

Besides getting charged with an offense for operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, you can also face charges for the following offenses:

DUI with a Refusal to Submit to BAC Testing

If a driver refuses to submit to chemical testing of his/her breath or blood to determine his/her BAC, then Pennsylvania law imposes some of the most severe punishments, which are the same penalties as those imposed for drivers with the highest DUI impairment.

DUI by Controlled Substance

If a driver is charged with DUI because of driving under the influence of any controlled substance, then Pennsylvania law imposes those same categories of punishments that apply to drivers with the highest BAC impairment level.

Underage DUI

Those under the age of 21 face harsher BAC standards when it comes to drunk driving in Pennsylvania. If you are under the legal drinking age and get behind the wheel of a car with a BAC of .02% or higher, you will be charged with a DUI.

Depending on the facts of your case, your criminal history (or lack thereof), and several other factors, other penalties you might face for a DUI include:

Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD)

Under the Commonwealth’s law pertaining to Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD), the court must impose driving suspensions based on the following BAC ranges:

  • No suspension if the BAC is less than .10%
  • 30-day suspension if the BAC is .10% to less than .16%
  • 60-day suspension if the BAC is .16% or above.

Enhanced Penalties Based on a Driver’s Status

Under Pennsylvania’s DUI laws, certain types of drivers may be subjected to the penalties normally reserved for those convicted of enhanced BAC levels, even if the BAC is not in a high category. Examples of these types of drivers include:

  • Commercial drivers
  • Drivers under the age of 21-years-old
  • School vehicle or bus drivers
  • Drivers involved in an accident that either causes property damage or personal injury to another person
  • Drivers who refuse to take a chemical test of their breath or blood.

Collateral Consequences of a DUI Conviction

What many people who are charged with drunk driving fail to realize is that there are a number of non-statutory consequences of a conviction. If you are a teacher, doctor, or other licensed professional, you could lose your ability to practice your chosen career. Depending on your family situation, you could lose custody of your children. To avoid these harsh consequences, reach out to a drunk driving attorney today.

Has a lot of knowledge and...

Mr Skinner always kept us updated about the case and was prompt with his responses.

5 Stars Review 5

12-13-2018

A masterful defense lawyer

Michael Skinner and his staff made me completely comfortable and confident

5 Stars Review 5

07-11-2019

More than exceptional

He was very negotiable and understanding of my circumstances.

5 Stars Review 5

11-14-2018

Michael had listened intently

I would highly recommend him to anyone facing charges or violations in Chester County.

5 Stars Review 5

08-16-2019

He listened and told me where...

Michael was able to give me clear guidance on my legal options and explained each step of the process.

5 Stars Review 5

11-15-2019

Professional and Understanding

He is very professional and understanding of each person’s needs.

5 Stars Review 5

05-19-2019

I will be forever indebted to...

I am thankful I found and chose Michael Skinner.

5 Stars Review 5

05-17-2019

Always available

Anyone faced with a DUI charge needs Mike Skinner.

5 Stars Review 5

12-17-2018

He’s worth every penny.

If you work with him, he will get you what you want/deserve.

5 Stars Review 5

06-13-2018

Mike is the guy to call!

A top-notch attorney in West Chester.

5 Stars Review 5

10-10-2019

Hire him. Don't wait.

I don’t think it is possible for a better outcome than what was achieved by Michael J Skinner.

5 Stars Review 5

12-14-2017

I would highly recommend him.

I was nervous regarding my situation, but after a brief conversation describing my charges and the delicacy of my situation, Michael assured me he could easily handle this case.

5 Stars Review 5

11-23-2019

Thank you, Skinner Law!

I went to Skinner after researching all the law firms in the area and without a doubt would go to him for everything.

5 Stars Review 5

05-15-2019

Best lawyer in Delaware County

He was extremely helpful and knowledgeable.

5 Stars Review 5

06-14-2018

There for me every step of...

From day one I felt comfortable with him and confident that he would help me get the best outcome available.

5 Stars Review 5

12-19-2018

I could not thank him more.

He took me through everything step by step and charged me a fair price for his service.

5 Stars Review 5

11-26-2019

Placed into the ARD program.

Michael and Nichole made me feel comfortable as you truly feel that you are discussing your problem with friends.

5 Stars Review 5

11-15-2018

Mike Skinner in the best.

He is very nice and will work with to help get you the best possible outcome.

5 Stars Review 5

07-08-2018

I’m very happy with Mike Skinner’s...

I was a little nervous about everything and just 5 minutes of talking with Mike, I felt at ease.

5 Stars Review 5

12-18-2018

Recommend him 110 %

Working with Mr. Skinner has been a pleasure.

5 Stars Review 5

12-19-2018

Mr. Skinner went above and beyond

He is very informative and knowledgeable. I had no trouble contacting him to answer questions or give me advice.

5 Stars Review 5

11-29-2019

I am grateful he helped me.

Extensive experience with defending DUI’s and I saw this confidence in the courtroom.

5 Stars Review 5

12-17-2018

He was able to have everything...

His diligence and professionalism are unmatched making it a pleasure to have been a client.

5 Stars Review 5

12-19-2018

Micheal and his firm are top...

Michael Skinner EXPERTLY handled a very sensitive case.

5 Stars Review 5

12-10-2018

I am eternally grateful

Mike Skinner resolved this case in the best way possible, and I am eternally grateful for his advice and counsel.

4 Stars Review 4

11-30-2019

Mike Skinner is an excellent attorney.

He was able to get me a lesser sentence and always treated me with respect throughout.

5 Stars Review 5

12-08-2019

I am beyond grateful.

Going above and beyond for their clients is an understatement.

5 Stars Review 5

12-20-2018

Mike is by far the best...

His calm presence is also very reassuring for his clients. Highly recommend choosing him.

5 Stars Review 5

05-21-2019

Mike Skinner helped me immensely.

Mike’s attention to detail and professionalism put my mind at ease.

5 Stars Review 5

09-10-2019

Gave me realistic advice.

He was able to reduce my son’s sentence from a potentially harsh fine, loss of driving privileges or even jail time, down to a few community service hours.

5 Stars Review 5

10-11-2018

Thank you, Mr. Skinner

Michael Skinner is an excellent lawyer that knows your rights, and he will indeed fight for you.

5 Stars Review 5

12-04-2018

Average 4.96774193548 out of 5 rating based on 31 Reviews
See All Reviews

What Happens to Your Driver’s License After a DUI in PA?

Pennsylvania law provides for certain DUI driver’s license suspensions based on the number of prior offenses, level of impairment as measured by a person’s BAC, whether the driver was under the influence of any controlled substance, and other factors. The suspensions are as follows:

  • There will be no suspension for a first offense if the driver has a BAC below .10% and is incapable of safe driving.
  • A 12-month license suspension will be imposed for a second or subsequent offense if the driver’s BAC is below .10%, and they are incapable of safe driving.
  • There would be a 12-month license suspension for first and second offenses if a driver’s BAC was at least .10%, but less than .16%.
  • An 18-month suspension will be imposed for third or subsequent offenses if the driver’s BAC was at least .10%, and less than .16%.
  • There would be a 12-month driver’s license suspension for a first offense if the driver’s BAC was greater than or equal to .16%.
  • An 18-month suspension for a second or subsequent offense will be imposed if the driver’s BAC was greater than or equal to .16%.
  • There is no suspension for a first offense of an out-of-state DUI conviction.
  • There will be a 12-month license suspension for a second or subsequent offense of an out-of-state DUI conviction.

Ignition Interlock Devices (IID) and Limited Licenses in PA

An ignition interlock system, along with an Ignition Interlock Limited License is now mandatory for first-time DUI offenders with high blood alcohol levels, repeat DUI offenders, and for individuals who refuse chemical testing.

An IID is installed in a vehicle to prohibit someone under the influence of alcohol from operating the vehicle. Before starting the vehicle. an individual is required to blow into the device. If the device detects alcohol, it will not start. In addition, at periodic times during its operation, the individual will be prompted to blow into the device to ensure they are not under the influence. An Ignition Interlock system is leased from approved Ignition Interlock vendors and the current average costs associated with leasing an IID is between $900 to $1,300 per year.

An Ignition Interlock Limited License is also issued to drivers whose privileges are suspended or revoked for driving under the influence or refusal to submit to chemical testing. An Ignition Interlock Limited License permits an individual to only operate a motor vehicle equipped with a functioning Ignition Interlock system during their suspension or revocation period. From the date the Ignition Interlock License is issued to the time an unrestricted driver’s license is reissued, an individual may not operate any vehicle not equipped with an IID.

Defenses Against a DUI

Upon hearing the facts of your particular case, your attorney may be able to identify defenses to your DUI arrest or address other mitigating factors to reduce your charge or even have it dismissed. Common DUI defenses include:

  • The police officer did not have probable cause or reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle.
  • The arresting officer did not have cause to prolong your detention or ask you to exit your vehicle.
  • The police officer did not have probable cause to arrest you for DUI.
  • The arresting officer did not read you your Miranda rights before custodial interrogation.
  • The breath test administrator did not follow the statutory requirements in giving you a breath test.
  • The breath test machine lead to an inaccurate BAC result that was over the legal limit.

DUI Resources

If you’ve been charged with drunk driving in Chester County or the surrounding areas, there are a number of resources you might find helpful as you begin to navigate the legal process:

West Chester Police Department

The West Chester Police Department is a Pennsylvania law enforcement agency dedicated to protecting and serving the community. The department is located at:

401 East Gay Street
West Chester, Pennsylvania 19380
Phone: (610) 696-2700

Alcoholics Anonymous
This organization is a fellowship for men and women who desire to quit drinking alcohol, support each other, and share their experiences from their addiction to alcohol and their paths to recovery. 

Title 75 of PA’s Consolidated Statutes (Vehicles)

This online resource has all of Pennsylvania’s rules regarding offenses and penalties associated with driving under the influence.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving

The Pennsylvania branch of this national organization seeks to stop impaired driving and has created a variety of initiatives for adult education, youth education, and prevention, and to reach out to culturally diverse communities.

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation

This Pennsylvania state agency has information about driver’s license suspensions, reinstatements, renewals, commercial driver’s licenses, and a variety of other information.

Contact a DUI Lawyer

When you have been charged with drunk driving, a lot is on the line. You could go to jail, lose your driver’s license, and even face repercussions in your personal life. With so much at stake, it’s important to have an experienced DUI attorney on your side who will protect your rights and freedom throughout the entire criminal justice process. Michael J. Skinner has over a decade of legal experience, and he’s ready to take on your case. He will listen to the facts of your particular situation, and help you identify any defenses or mitigating circumstances to your charge to find the most optimal outcome for your situation.

To schedule a confidential consultation of your case, call (610) 436-1410 today, or send a message online.

COVID-19 Notice: Our firm is open and available to help. We are all being impacted in different ways, but we will all get through this together.Learn More
+