While they seem common, DUI charges in Chester County, PA can negatively impact your career, education, and/or personal life. A conviction for drinking and driving can also result in a driver’s license suspension, jail time, fines, and more.
If you’ve been charged with a DUI in Chester County or the surrounding area, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. With a record of success in Chester County DUI cases, attorney Michael J. Skinner aggressively fights for each of his clients and is ready to help you.
At Skinner Law Firm, we know that entering a guilty plea may not be an option for your DUI charge. Let us make every effort to avoid a conviction and license suspension. Call (610) 436-1410 today for a free consultation with a local DUI lawyer, or reach out online.
In many cases, factors other than alcohol or controlled substances lead to irregular driving or poor performance on DUI tests. These factors can result in driving patterns or behavior that initially looks like driving under the influence to the police. Such factors include:
The legal limit in Pennsylvania for DUI is .08%. Known as a “per se” 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 if there’s evidence you were incapable of driving safely because you consumed alcohol or were impaired by a controlled substance.
Pennsylvania provides for three categories of DUI offenses based on your level of impairment. The consequences 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:
With no prior convictions, your 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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
Besides getting charged with operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, you can also face charges in Chester County, PA for:
If a driver is charged with drug-related DUI because they were under the influence of controlled substances, then Pennsylvania imposes the punishments that apply to drivers with the highest BAC impairment level.
If you are under the legal drinking age and get behind the wheel with a BAC of .02% or higher, you will be charged with a DUI.
Depending on the facts, your criminal history (or lack thereof), and other factors, you’ll face a license suspension, possible time in custody, and a permanent conviction on your record.
Under the law, the court must impose driving suspensions based on the following BAC ranges:
Some drivers in Pennsylvania may be subjected to the penalties normally reserved for those with elevated BAC levels, even if their BAC is not in a high category. Examples of these types of drivers include:
What many people fail to realize about DUIs in Chester County, PA is that there are various non-criminal consequences of a conviction. If you are a teacher, doctor, or other licensed professional, you could lose your ability to practice your profession. 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.
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Pennsylvania law provides for certain DUI driver’s license suspensions based on the number of prior offenses, level of impairment, whether drugs wee involved, and other factors.
The suspensions periods are as follows:
You can still drive in Chester County after a DUI, but certain conditions will apply.
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 those who refuse chemical testing.
An IID is installed to prohibit someone under the influence of alcohol from operating the vehicle. Before starting the vehicle, an individual must blow into the device. If the device detects alcohol, it will not start.
In addition, at periodic times during 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 DUI 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.
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.
If you’ve been charged with drunk driving in Chester County or the surrounding areas, there are various resources you might find helpful as you navigate the legal process:
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
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.
This online resource has all of Pennsylvania’s rules regarding offenses and penalties associated with driving under the influence.
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.
This Pennsylvania state agency has information about driver’s license suspensions, reinstatements, renewals, commercial driver’s licenses, and a variety of other information.
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 best interests. 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 and help find the most optimal outcome for your situation. Based on the details, this could mean a reduction, keeping your license, getting your DUI dismissed, or proving your innocence in court.