Tim George - Erie, PA

FAQ

Getting the right result starts with asking the right questions.

If after you learn the answers to questions commonly asked by people in Erie PA facing DUI and other criminal charges, you still have questions, call an experienced Erie PA DUI Attorney and Criminal Defense Lawyer at (888) 748-9909 Not ready to meet? That's OK. Get your Free PA DUI Book Defending Freedom:The Ultimate Guide to DUI Cases in Pennsylvania (1st Ed.) Click here to download your free copy. Check out our peer review and other ratings. See what others say about us. More information is better that less information. And better information results in better decisions.

How do I choose the right lawyer for my case?

Many people who face criminal allegations have never been in trouble before. For this reason, they have not needed a criminal defense lawyer until now and do not know how to choose one. If this sounds like you, you have made a good decision by looking for information and visiting our website. You will not find the answers you need in the yellow pages. All of the ads there appear to be the same except for maybe the size and the amount of color in the advertisement. Most claim to be "aggressive" or "experienced" but, you probably ask yourself, "What does that really mean?" Read more how to choose the right DUI lawyer for your and your case in our Free PA DUI Book Defending Freedom:The Ultimate Guide to DUI Cases in Pennsylvania (1st Ed.) Click here to download your free copy.

Like any other important decision you make, you need information. The more information you have, the better. The better he information, the better the decision. And the information you need to choose the right lawyer for you and your case cannot be found inside (or on) a telephone book. You have to ask questions to get good information. And the answers you receive can make all the difference to you and your family.

What questions should I ask before I choose a lawyer to defend my freedom?

In the end, choosing the right criminal defense lawyer for you and your case begins with asking the right questions at the beginning. You can start with, "Have you ever defended cases like mine?" A slight variiation of this question might be, "Have you defended cases like mine successfully?" Another question should be, "Where can I read about your other cases? There are many other questions that you will want answered before you make such an important decision. While a certain result that a lawyer had in another case does not guarantee that you will get the same result in your case, you at least should know whether the lawyer has handled cases like yours. If he has, then you can assess whether he is familiar with the issues that might arise in your case.

How do I decide whether the lawyer is right for me?

In addition to your lawyer being knowledgeable about the issues likely to appear in your case, you will want to assess whether you can work with him or her. You will want to access how well the lawyer listens, how often he will meet with you and how much administrative support is available to assist you and your lawyer. You will want to know whether the fundamentals of real communication are in place for a successful relationship.

What should I do when I think charges might be filed against me?

When you receive these papers (or think that you might face criminal charges) you should meet with a lawyer immediately. You want to begin to prepare for the preliminary hearing as soon as possible. The government, often the local police, Pennsylvania State Police, their detectives, or other law enforcement have completed either most or all of their investigation already. You and your lawyer will need to make the most of the time you have to prepare your defense, discuss and plan your courses of action, and work to defend your freedom.

I received court papers that require me to appear for a preliminary hearing. Do I have to appear in person?

Yes. You must appear in Court on the date and time set for your preliminary hearing. If you fail to appear a warrant for your arrest will be issued, called a bench warrant.

Why is there a preliminary hearing in my case?

The main purpose of a preliminary hearing is to protect your right against an unlawful arrest and detention. There are other good reasons to have a preliminary hearring scheduled in your case. For, example, it is the first and sometimes only opportuntiy your and your lawyer will have to face and question your accusers under oath before trial. Keep reading.

How does a preliminary hearing protect me from an unlawful arrest and detention?

The Commonwealth must show that your arrest meets the minimum requirements established by law. At this hearing the Commonwealth must make at least a prima facie case – that is, at least a minimal showing – that a particular crime was committed and that you are probably the one who committed it. At this stage, the Commonwealth doesn’t have to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In order to meet its burden the Commonwealth must present some evidence regarding each of the material elements of the crime charged. If the government can’t meet this burden, your case will be dismissed.

I hear that many people waive their preliminary hearing. Should I waive my preliminary hearing?

It depends. A preliminary hearing is important because it helps you and your lawyer learn more about the circumstances surrounding the allegations. More information is always better than less information. You also will make better decisions about your case with better information. The preliminary hearing can help you obtain the the information you need to make smart choices in your case. The preliminary hearing presents an opportunity for your lawyer to learn about the evidence that the Commonwealth will try to offer against you in support of the charges. This also means that you must be prepared for this important hearing. If you can get all of the best information available without a preliminary hearing, then maybe you can waive the hearing. In other cases, the only way to obtain important information which will be necessary to execute your plan (develop all of your defenses or preserve legal issues and arguments) then you must have a preliminary hearing. And the testimony will need to be recorded by a court reporter who will prepare a transcript of the testimony.

What can my lawyer do to help me get prepared for my preliminary hearing?

Many things. Your lawyer can prepare for the preliminary hearing by spending time with you, learning about you, learning about what happened (or didn't happen) that resulted in your charges, and begin to develop defenses and outline a strategy for success. Your lawyer can learn about the circumstances surrounding the allegations, conduct his own investigation (perhaps even work with a private investigator), interview witnesses, inspect the scene, take photographs, identify legal issues, conduct legal research (and do various other things which depend on the unique circumstances of your case). All of this preparation is made in an effort to identify and develop possible defenses to the charges. It's all part of forming a plan for how to defeat all or some of the allegations.

What is a suppression hearing?

If your case is not dismissed (or resolved to your satisfaction) at the preliminary hearing, your lawyer might file pretrial motions, resulting in hearings. Some of these motions may argue that using certain evidence against you would violate your constitutional rights. A ruling in your favor can result in evidence being excluded (or "suppressed") from your trial, which may reduce the prosecution’s odds of winning. For example, statements that you made while in the custody of police, the results of blood, breath, or field sobriety tests might be considered by the Court to be inappropriate for a jury to hear because it would be unfair to you and our system of justice.

How long will it take to resolve my case?

It depends upon the unique nature of your case. Some cases are resolved at the preliminary hearing. Others are resolved after pre-trial motions. Others are resolved either before or after trial. Still others are not resolved until after an appeal.

What is the "speedy trial" rule?

The speedy trial rule prevents someone from having allegations remain unresolved for an unreasonable period of time. Our understanding of fundamental fairness is violated when someone has criminal allegations "hanging over their head" for an indefinite period of time without being afforded a chance to defend the allegation at a public trial. In Pennsylvania, the speedy trial rule requres, in general, that a case be called to trial within 365 days of the date the criminal complaint was filed. If a person remains in jail while awaiting trial, the speedy trial ruile requires that the case be called for trial within 180 days. As with any general rule, exceptions exist.

What is DUI?

DUI is short for Driving Under the Influence. A person is guilty of DUI if he or she drives or physically controls a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcoholic beverage, chemical, or controlled substance. A person is “under the influence” if his or her mental faculties are impaired or his or her blood alcohol level (BAC) is above the legal limit for the state (in Pennsylvania, the legal limit is .08%).

Does the car have to be moving for me to be guilty of DUI?

No. You can be convicted for DUI by driving while over the legal BAC limit or while impaired even if you’re not actually driving the car. The key is whether you had the capability and power to dominate, direct, or regulate the vehicle. It doesn’t matter whether you were actually exercising that power at the time. In other words, simply sitting behind the wheel with the keys in the ignition can lead to your arrest for DUI because you are in actual physical control of the car. There are, however, exceptions to this general rule which must be considered before you decide to seek ARD or plead guilty.

What do police officers look for when searching for drunk drivers on the highways?

Most DUI arrests occur at night and on weekends. The following is a list of indicators that someone might be DUI at night. The list is based upon research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA):

  1. Turning with a wide radius
  2. Straddling the center of lane marker
  3. Almost striking an object or vehicle
  4. Weaving
  5. Driving on other than designated highway
  6. Swerving
  7. Going more than 10 mph below the speed limit
  8. Stopping for no reason in a traffic lane
  9. Following too closely
  10. Drifting
  11. Running tires on the center or lane marker
  12. Braking erratically
  13. Driving into opposing or crossing traffic
  14. Signaling in a way that doesn’t match driving actions (for example, signaling left and then turning right)
  15. Slow response to traffic signals
  16. Stopping inappropriately (other than in lane)
  17. Turning abruptly or illegally
  18. Accelerating or decelerating rapidly
  19. Driving with the headlights off

If the police officer asks me if I have been drinking, what should I say?

If the officer asks whether you have you been drinking, your answer will be a significant factor in the officer’s decision whether to arrest you. Since the question is accusatory in nature, you should politely and respectfully ask the officer, Am I under arrest?' If the officer persists in questioning you, you should, again, politely and respectfully, decline to answer. One good response: “I would like to speak with a lawyer before I answer any questions.”.

Please remember that the officer does have a right to ask certain routine questions. For example, you should give the officer your name, address, date of birth, etc. if asked. When the officer inquires into drinking, however, politely ask for a lawyer. The officer will then probably say you do not have a right to a lawyer and ask you to answer the question. At this point, your best course of action would be to respectfully and politely decline to answer.

Do I have to submit to field sobriety tests, like the one-leg stand, walk and turn etc?

You are not legally required to take a field sobriety test in Pennsylvania, and you can respectfully and politely decline to take it. However, you are required to take chemical tests to determine your blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”). If you refuse to take a chemical test, there are serious consequences, such as the loss of your driver’s license for a year. Remember, always be polite and courteous to the officer. Read more about the consequences of refusing a blood testing Defending Freedom:The Ultimate Guide to DUI Cases in Pennsylvania (1st Ed.) Click here to download your free copy.

Do I have the constitutional right to speak to a lawyer before I agree to take a field sobriety test?

In Pennsylvania, you are not required to perform field sobriety tests. See previous FAQ. Still, whether you have the right to consult with a lawyer before deciding if you will submit to field sobriety test is a commonly asked question. The answer is No. In Pennsylvania, your right to a lawyer or to advice of counsel does not “attach” – come into being – until you are formally arrested or placed in “custody.” This happens when under all of the circumstances a reasonable person would not feel free to drive away. The facts of the case determine this. (This is why a good question for you to ask the officer is: "Am I under arrest?" Still, if at any time during the officer’s stop, you believe you need a lawyer, it is always good policy to ask for one. Please remember to be polite and courteous at all times. You must refrain from any rude, disrespectful or “know it all” behavior.

What is the officer looking for during the initial detention at the scene?

Police officers are trained to note the following “indicia of intoxication” on their report:

  • Flushed face
  • Red, watery, glassy and/or bloodshot eyes
  • Odor of alcoholic beverage on the breath
  • Slurred speech
  • Fumbling when getting the driver’s license
  • Failure to comprehend the officer’s questions
  • Staggering when exiting the vehicle
  • Swaying/instability
  • Leaning on the car for support
  • Combative, argumentative, jovial or another “inappropriate” attitude or behavior
  • Soiled, rumpled, or disorderly clothing
  • Stumbling while walking
  • Disorientation as to time and place
  • Inability to follow directions or to “divide attention.”

What happens if I do not submit to a breath, blood, or urine test?

By accepting the privilege of getting a driver’s license, the courts have determined that you have given your “implied consent” to submit to a chemical or physical test of your breath. Therefore, as a general rule, refusing such tests is not a good idea.

In Pennsylvania, PennDOT will suspend your driver’s license for one year should you refuse to submit to a chemical test. In addition, your refusal to submit to a test upon the request of a law-enforcement officer can be used at trial as evidence of your consciousness of guilt.

Read more about the consequences of refusing a blood test in Defending Freedom:The Ultimate Guide to DUI Cases in Pennsylvania (1st Ed.) Click here to download your free copy.

What are some potential defenses to allegation of DUI?

There are many potential defenses in a DUI case, because of the complexity of the offense. They fall into following categories:

Were you driving? If you were neither driving nor in “actual physical control” of the vehicle, there cannot be a DUI. Read in Our Success Stories about the case that was dismissed by a judge (after we had picked a jury) because the accused was sleeping in his car in a private parking lot outside of a bar in the city of Erie.

Was there probable cause? If the officer did not have legal cause to stop, detain or arrest you, then any allegations of intoxication must be suppressed or otherwise rejected by the Court. Read about several cases in Our Success Stories which address this issue. However, sobriety roadblocks may be legal since the topic is complex.

Did you receive your Miranda warnings? If you weren’t read your rights at the appropriate time and under the appropriate circumstances, and if you said something incriminating, your statement might not be admissible in court. Read about this in Our Success Stories in the Criminal Defense portion of our website.

Were you under the influence? Were you really under the influence? The observations made by the police, and their opinions about whether you were under the influence, can be called into question. The circumstances under which the field sobriety tests were administered also can cast doubt on the results of those tests.

Was the blood-alcohol testing done correctly?. There are a lot of potential challenges to blood, breath and urine testing. For example, there are strict rules governing the way breath, blood or urine is collected and tested (and by whom).

Were you tested during the absorption phase? If you are still actively absorbing alcohol – in other words, if you had your last drink beyond two hours of the arrest – the blood, breath or urine test will be unreliable if done while you are still actively absorbing alcohol. Absorption can be delayed even longer if food is present in the stomach.

Is the retrograde extrapolation legitimate? If testing takes place some time after you were actually in control of the motor vehicle, the police will have to determine how drunk you were earlier. To do this, the test results are subject to a process called “retrograde extrapolation.” A number of complex physiological problems are involved here, any of which might be used to challenge the conclusions reached by the police. The amendment to the recent DUI statute make it so that any testing done witin two hours of driving results in the presumption that the test results accurately reflect your BAC at the time you were driving. (This does not necessarily square with science but it is nevertheless the law.)

Was the testing machine working? The prosecution must prove that the testing complied with Pennsylvania’s requirements as to proper calibration and maintenance of the machines. Further, breathalyzers are machines and, as such, are fallible. Have you ever put correct change into a vending machine and still not received your soda? Sometimes machines just do not work correctly. How about the vacuum machine at a car wash? Works every time. Right? (Of course not).

What happens after I am charged with a criminal offense or with DUI?

After you care charged with a criminal offense in Pennsulvania, including DUI, a series of important events begin. When each occurs is largely determined by the courts and under time constraints which are created ny the law. Things often happen quickly. While this can be stressful and confusing for many people, the main reason for a fast-moving process is not to make defending your freedom more difficult, bit insead to protect citizens from allegations pending agaisnt them for lengthy and seemingly never-ending period of time. (Unlike many of the detainees held at Guantanimo Bay for many years, citizens of America generally must be brought to trial within 180 days, if confined, or within 365 days, if out on bond. Some of these important events include an "informal arraignment" (where the charges are read to the person accused of a crime, when bond is set, and a preliminary hearing is scheduled); a prelimianry hearing, formal arraignment, pre-trial hearings, trial or pretrial diversion hearings, or plea and sentecning proceedings.

What is a preliminary hearing?

A preliminary hearing can be one of the most crucial hearings in your case. The preliminary hearing is not a trial. The main purpose of a preliminary hearing is to protect your right against an unlawful arrest and detention. At this hearing the Commonwealth must make at least a prima facie case – that is, at least a minimal showing – that a particular crime was committed and that you are probably the one who committed it. At this stage, the Commonwealth doesn’t have to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In order to meet its burden the Commonwealth must present some evidence regarding each of the material elements of the crime charged If the government can’t meet this burden, your case will be dismissed.

What is ARD?

ARD is an acronym for a diversion program known as Accelerated Rehabilitative Distposition. ARD allows first time, non-violent offenders to avoid a conviction and the uncertainty of trial. Most DUI and many other criminal offenses qualify as non-violent and sometimes can be resolved with ARD. ARD suspends the case while you serve a period of probation, attend educational classes, abstain from alcohol, pay fees to the Court and, in DUI cases, lose your driver's license for a period of time. However, not everyone is eligible for the program and even for those who are eligible, ARD might not be a better option than fighting the allegations. For more information about ARD, watch our video or go to page 34 of our book Defending Freedom: The Ultimate Guide to DUI Cases in Pennsylvania.

Is ARD just for DUI offenders, or can someone facing other criminal allegation also qualify for ARD?

In Pennsylvania, ARD is not just for DUI. Whether you are eligible for ARD depends on your criminal history, the nature of the allegations and the particular facts of your case. Many non-violent offenses can be resolved without a conviction for people who have little or no criminal history. If you have either no criminal history or, in some cases, only a minor criminal history, you may be eligible for ARD if you face certain theft offenses, minor drug offenses or some other kinds of offenses.

What is a suppression hearing?

Assuming your case isn’t dismissed at the preliminary hearing and you either don't want or don't qualify for ARD, your attorney may file pretrial motions, resulting in a hearing before a judge of the Court of Common Pleas. Some of these motions may argue that using certain evidence against you would violate your constitutional rights. A ruling in your favor can result in evidence being excluded from your trial, which may reduce the prosecution’s odds of winning. For example, the results of blood, breath, or field sobriety tests might be excluded, or perhaps the prosecution won’t be allowed to use a statement that you made.

The pretrial motion stage occurs anywhere from six weeks to three months after the preliminary hearing.

If facing a DUI, will a jury decide my case at trial?

It depends. Pennsylvania does not allow for jury trials on “ungraded misdemeanors.” All first, and many second, DUI offenses are ungraded misdemeanors. Therefore, if your DUI is an ungraded misdemeanor, the judge, rather than a jury, will hear the evidence. If you are arrested on a second-offense DUI with an alleged BAC of .16% or higher (or if you refuse testing), or a third-offense DUI, you will have the right to a jury trial. When determining whether you have prior offenses, the court will look back 10 years. Also, if you are charged with an unfraded middemeanor DUIm but also face other charges, like homicide, aggravated assault, certain drug charges, fleeing and eluding, for example, you will be entitled to have your whole case heard by a jury.

During the trial, each side will have the opportunity to present its evidence and to challenge evidence presented by the other side. Under the fifth amendment to the U.S. Constitution, you will not be required to testify yourself. Whether or not you do is something that must be discussed at length and on more than one occassion with your DUI lawyer. Time with your lawyer is crucial to your making the best decision about whether testify.

What happens at a sentencing hearing?

A sentening is when the Court sets punishment and imposes other requirements intended to help you avoid committing similar offenses in the future. Much preparation is required by you and your lawyer before your sentencing proceeding. A judge often has many sentencing options from with to choose when imposing an appropriate sentence. Some examples include, prison, partial confinement such as house arrest, probation, a combination of prison and probation, fines, costs, counseling and other rehabilitative tools, like educational classes. The length of your sentence with determine where you are imprisoned and by who you will be supervised. In addition to these setencing options, there may be colateral consequesnces which your case will trigger, like a license suspension or revocation.

If you are convicted at trial, or if you negotiate a plea agreement that is acceptable to you, a sentence for DUI may include jail time, in-home detention ("house arrest"), public service, alcohol classes and/or fines. The maximum period of time for which a county can jail and/or supervise most offenders ranges from six months to five years. The length of sentence depends on previous convictions, any need for treatment, and the like.

In DUI cases, all repeat offenders must have their cars equipped with an ignition-interlock restriction system for at least one year. A new offense is created for driving without a required ignition-interlock system when alcohol is present in driver’s system. You can learn more about the penalties associated with a DUI convictionin Defending Freedom:The Ultimate Guide to DUI Cases in Pennsylvania (1st Ed.) click here to download your free copy.

This FAQ is only a basic summary of what you might expect at a sentencing hearing. Sentencing is an increasingly complex subject and requires consultation with an experienced criminal defense or DUI lawyer well in advance of your sentencing date.

What are the different categories, or tiers, of DUI in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, there are generally three categories, or tiers, of DUI. These categories depend upon the level of alcohol in your blood, whether there are controlled substances such as marijuana, cocaine or other narcotics in your blood, or whether you refused to submit to breath, blood or other chemical testing. For more information, visit www.ThePADUIBook.com to download a free copy of our PA DUI book.

What are the penalties if I am convicted of DUI (General Impairment)?

In Pennsylvania, if you are convicted of DUI (General Impairment) which means your BAC was between 0.08% and 0.099%, the sentence will depend upon your criminal history and the unique facts and circumstances of your case. However, the statutory maximum sentence if this is your first offense is six months in prison, a fine in the amount of $300.00, and costs of prosecution. You also would be required to participate in a Court Reporting Network (CRN) evaluation, complete an Alcohol Highway Safety program (AHSS) and complete a possible Drug & Alcohol evaluation. Read more about the penalites for a PA DUI conviction Defending Freedom:The Ultimate Guide to DUI Cases in Pennsylvania (1st Ed.) Click here to download your free copy.

What does “First Offense” DUI mean in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, the DUI statute uses the term “first offense” to mean that you have had no other DUI within the past 10 years. This becomes important when determining such things as the statutory maximum sentence and your eligibility for a diversion program known as Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD). If you want answers to questions about your unique facts and circumstances, call toll free for a no obligation office consultation with a Pennsylvania DUI lawyer at 1-(888)-748-9909.

What is the maximum sentence for a conviction of a first offense DUI (High Rate)?

In Pennsylvania, if you are convicted of a first offense DUI (High Rate), the statutory maximum sentence is six months in prison and a fine in the amount of $5,000.00. Your sentence also would include participation in a Court Reporting Network (CRN) evaluation, completion of an Alcohol Highway Safety program (AHSS) and a possible Drug & Alcohol evaluation. Your driver’s license also will be suspended for a period of one year, with the possibility that you could apply for and receive an Occupational Limited License (OLL) after serving at least two months of your suspension. If you want answers to questions about your unique facts and circumstances, call toll free for a no obligation office consultation with a Pennsylvania DUI lawyer at 1-(888)-748-9909.

What is the maximum sentence for a conviction of a first offense DUI (Highest Rate)?

In Pennsylvania, if you are convicted of a first offense DUI (Highest Rate), the statutory maximum sentence is six months in prison, a fine of $5,000.00, completion of a Court Reporting Network (CRN) evaluation, completion of an Alcohol Highway Safety program (AHSS), a possible Drug & Alcohol evaluation, and your driver’s license will be suspended for one year, with the possibility that you could apply for and receive an Occupational Limited License (OLL) after serving at least two months of your suspension.

What is the mandatory minimum prison sentence for a conviction of a first offense DUI (General Impairment)?

In Pennsylvania, there is no mandatory minimum prison sentence for a conviction of a first offense DUI (General Impairment).

What is the mandatory minimum prison sentence for a conviction of a first offense DUI (High Rate)?

In Pennsylvania, if you are convicted of a first offense DUI (High Rate), there is a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 48 hours. This means that if you enter a plea of guilty or are convicted at trial for a first offense DUI (High Rate), the Court must sentence you to at least two days in prison. The Court may sentence you to a longer term of prison depending upon your criminal history and the unique facts and circumstances of your case. In some jurisdictions, you may be permitted to serve the prison sentence on “house arrest” while on the home electronic monitor. However, such an alternative to prison depends upon a number of factors and is always within the discretion of the Court.

What is the mandatory minimum prison sentence for a conviction of a second offense DUI (General Impariment)?

In Pennsylvania, a second offense DUI (General Impairment) means that your BAC was between .08% and .10% and you have a previous c0onviction for DUI within the past 10 years. A second offense DUI (General Impairment) is an ungraded misdemeanor with a mandatory minimum prison sentence of not less than five days. Someone convicted of this offense also must pay a fine of not less than $300.00 and not more than $2,500.00. There will be a license suspension for a period of 12 months and upon restoration of driving privileges you must equip your vehicle(s) with an ignition interlock device for a period of at least 12 months. You must also complete a CRN, AHSS, and D&A evaluation. There may by other consequences for a conviction of this nature depending upon your driving history and the unique circumstances of your case.

What is the maximum sentence for a conviction of a second offense DUI (General Impairment)?

In Pennsylvania, a second offense DUI (General Impairment) means that your BAC was between .08% and .10% and you have a previous conviction for DUI within the past 10 years. A second offense DUI (General Impairment) is an ungraded misdemeanor with a statutory maximum prison sentence of six months. Someone convicted of this offense also must pay a fine of not less than $300.00 and not more than $2,500.00. There will be a license suspension for a period of at least 12 months and upon restoration of driving privileges you must equip your vehicle(s) with an ignition interlock device for a period of 12 months. You must also complete a CRN, AHSS, and D&A evaluation. There may by other consequences for a conviction of this nature depending upon your driving history and the unique circumstances of your case.

What is the mandatory minimum prison sentence for a conviction of a second offense DUI (High Rate)?

In Pennsylvania, a second offense DUI (High Rate) means that your BAC is between 0.10% - 0.159% and you have a previous conviction for DUI within the past 10 years. This is an ungraded misdemeanor with a mandatory minimum prison sentence of not less than 30 days and not more than six months, together with a fine in the amount of at least $750.00 but not more than $5,000.00. Your license will be suspended for a period of at least 12 months. You will be required to complete a CRN, AHSS, D&A evaluation, and equip your vehicle(s) with an ignition interlock device for a period of 12 months. There may by other consequences for a conviction of this nature depending upon your driving history and the unique circumstances of your case.

What is the maximum sentence for a conviction of a second offense DUI (High Rate)?

In Pennsylvania, a second offense DUI (High Rate) means that your BAC is between 0.10% - 0.159% and you have a previous conviction for DUI within the past 10 years. This is an ungraded misdemeanor with a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 30 days and a maximum prison sentence of six months. The maximum fine is $5,000.00. Your license will be suspended for a period of at least 12 months. You would be required to complete a CRN, AHSS, D&A evaluation, and equip your vehicle(s) with an ignition interlock device for a period of 12 months. There may by other consequences for a conviction of this nature depending upon your driving history and the unique circumstances of your case.

What are the penalties for a conviction of a second offense DUI (Highest Rate)?

In Pennsylvania, a second offense DUI (Highest Rate) means that your BAC is 0.16% or higher or you refused to submit to breath, blood or chemical testingand you have a previous conviction for DUI within the past 10 years. This is graded as a misdemeanor of the first degree with a mandatory minimum prison sentence of at least 90 days but not more than five years. You also would be required to pay a fine of at least $1,500.00 but not more than $10,000.00. Your license would be suspended for a period of 18 months. You would be required to complete a CRN, AHSS, D&A evaluation, and equip your vehicle(s) with an ignition interlock device for a period of 12 months. There may by other consequences for a conviction of this nature depending upon your driving history and the unique circumstances of your case.

How do I determine whether this is my first, second, third offense or more?

In Pennsylvania, for the purpose of determining the statutory minimum and maximum penalties for a DUI conviction, the Court considers any criminal history within the past 10 years and in particular whether you have any previous DUI "convictions" within that period.

Does a previous ARD count as a previous DUI "conviction" when determining the penalties for a new DUI conviction?

Yes. In Pennsylvania, this is so even though, by definition, someone who enters the diversion program known as ARD does not admit any wrong doing, does not enter a plea of guilty and is not technically convicted of DUI.

What are the penalties for a conviction of a third offense DUI (General Impairment)?

In Pennsylvania , a third offense DUI (General Impairment) means that you have two previous convictions for DUI within the past 10 years and your BAC in this, third offense, is 0.08%-0.099%. This graded as a misdemeanor of the second degree with a mandatory minimum prison sentence of at least 10 days but not more than two years. You would also be required to pay a fine of at least $500.00 but not more than $5,000.00. You also would be issued a license suspension for a period of at least 12 months. You would be required to complete a CRN, D&A evaluation and equip your vehicle(s) with an ignition interlock device for a period of 12 months. There may by other consequences for a conviction of this nature depending upon your driving history and the unique circumstances of your case.

What are the penalties for a conviction of a third offense DUI (High Rate)?

In Pennsylvania , a third offense DUI (High Rate) means that you have two previous convictions for DUI in the past 10 years and your BAC in this case is 0.10%-0.159%. This is graded as a misdemeanor of the first degree with a mandatory minimum prison sentence of at least 90 days but not more than five years. You also would be required to pay a fine of at least $1,500.00 but not more than $10,000.00. You also would receive a license suspension for a period of 18 months. You would be required to complete a CRN, D&A evaluation and equip your vehicle(s) with an ignition interlock device for a period of 12 months. There may by other consequences for a conviction of this nature depending upon your driving history and the unique circumstances of your case.

What are the penalties for a conviction of a third offense DUI (Highest Rate)?

In Pennsylvania , a conviction for a third offense DUI (Highest Rate) means that you have two previous convictions for DUI within the past 10 years and your BAC in this case is 0.16% or higher or you refused to submit to breath, blood or urine tests. This is graded as a misdemeanor of the first degree and carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of one year. The maximum term of imprisonment is five years. You also would be required to pay a fine of at least $2,500.00 but not more than $10,000.00. Your license would be suspended for a period of 18 months (and could be revoked altogether if you meet the definition of a “habitual offender”). You also would be require to complete a CRN, D&A evaluation and equip your vehicle(s) with an ignition interlock device for a period of 12 months. There may by other consequences for a conviction of this nature depending upon your driving history and the unique circumstances of your case.

In what category or tier of DUI is a refusal to submit to breath, blood or urine testing?

In Pennsylvania, if you refuse to submit to breath, blood or urine testing when police have proper grounds to request such testing from you, then your DUI will become a Tier III or “Highest Rate” and the penalties upon conviction will be the same as if your BAC was 0.16% or above.

What is SCRAM bracelet?

SCRAM is an acronym meaning Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor. A SCRAM tether is an ankle-fitted device that analyzes the chemical composition of perspiration. It looks like the global position system (GPS) tethers used on people confined to house arrest. The SCRAM tether works by sampling the insensible but constantly flowing perspiration emitted through the skin and measuring the perspiration for traces of alcohol.

What is an Occupational Limited License (OLL)?

In Pennsylvania an Occupational Limited License (OLL) is a driver’s license issued to a motorist whose Pennsylvania driving privileges have been or will be suspended. An OLL authorizes a motorist to drive a designated motor vehicle, under certain and limited conditions, when it is necessary for the driver’s occupation, work, trade, medical treatment or study. Not everyone qualifies for an OLL and certain offenses or particular driving histories preclude the issuance of an OLL. Depending upon your driving history and violations, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will evaluate whether or not you are eligible for an OLL after you apply for one by completing an Occupational Limited License Petition (sometimes called a Form DL-15). If you want answers to questions about your unique facts and circumstances, call toll free for a no obligation office consultation with an Erie Pennsylvania DUI lawyer at 1-(888)-748-9909.

How do I obtain an Occupational Limited License (OLL)?

In Pennsylvania, in order to determine your eligibility for an Occupational Limited License (OLL), you must apply for one by completing an Occupational Limited License Petition, or a Form DL-15. In order to have continuous driving privileges, you must send your completed OLL Petition, check or money order, and proof of insurance by certified mail to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) at least 20 days before your suspension begins. Within 20 days of receiving your petition, the department will inform you in writing whether or not you qualify for an OLL. If your petition is not received and approved before your suspension starts, you must return your current driver’s license to PennDOT and pay a restoration fee before an OLL will be issued. If you would like more information about an Occupational Limited License or want to obtain an OLL Petition, please call our office at (814) 835-0400. If you provide your full name and mailing address, we will mail you this important documentation today. If you want answers to questions about your unique facts and circumstances, call toll free for a no obligation office consultation with a Pennsylvania DUI lawyer at 1-(888)-748-9909.

Do I qualify for an Occupational Limited License (OLL)?

Maybe. It will depend on the particular charges you face, your driving record and whether you have had an OLL in the past. In Pennsylvania, a number of offenses preclude a motorist from receiving an Occupational Limited License (OLL). And when a motorist can receive an OLL depends upon the nature of the offense which triggered the suspension and the driving history of the motorist. Several of the offenses which, upon conviction, render a motorist ineligible for an OLL include passing a school bus, homicide by vehicle, fleeing a police officer, homicide by vehicle while DUI, reckless driving, accident involving death or injury and an ARD-ordered suspension for DUI among others. If you want answers to questions about your unique facts and circumstances, call toll free for a no obligation office consultation with a Pennsylvania DUI lawyer at 1-(888)-748-9909.

You may have more questions, and we are here to help you. For more information, read the book written by Erie PA DUI Lawyer Tim George Defending Freedom:The Ultimate Guide to DUI Cases in Pennsylvania or call (814) 835-0400 for a confidential, office consultation.