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    Bucks County DUI Lawyer

    People often recall driving under the influence (DUI) as one of their biggest mistakes. While many DUI defendants face great shame even before they are charged or convicted, they still have rights that need protection.

    When you are arrested for a DUI, the police do not need a warrant. Instead, they will assess the situation for probable cause to justify a warrantless arrest. One crucial detail is your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) which may be used to assess the magnitude of your alleged offense. Different DUIs might be met with different charges, especially if the driver has prior DUIs on their record. If you are unsure whether you have prior offenses, the authorities typically will not consider DUIs older than 10 years. A major factor in many DUI cases is installing an ignition interlock device in your car. Often, defendants are required to drive with these devices for a certain period after a DUI. An attorney can help you defend yourself against DUI allegations by challenging the evidence and advocating for alternative sentencing opportunities.

    Call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 to schedule a free, private evaluation of your case with our DUI lawyers.

    What Happens When You Are Arrested for a DUI in Bucks County

    Arrests for DUIs are somewhat unique in that an arrest warrant is seldom required. Even though no warrant is required, our DUI lawyers can evaluate how you were arrested and determine whether the police violated your rights.

    According to 75 Pa.C.S. § 3811(a), arrest warrants are not needed as long as the arresting officer has probable cause that the suspect was driving under the influence. No warrant is required even if the arresting officer did not witness the DUI violation. For example, a police officer might be called to the scene of an accident and still arrest a driver for a DUI even though the officer was not present when the violation occurred.

    Since officers only need sufficient probable cause to make an arrest, probable cause is often the main focus of many DUI cases. Probable cause might come from numerous sources. For example, a police officer might pull someone over for dangerous and erratic driving. Next, they might notice an odor of alcohol in the car and the driver’s slurred speech. The erratic driving, smell of alcohol, and slurred speech together might be enough to establish sufficient probable cause.

    Another way the police might try to find sufficient probable cause is by conducting field sobriety tests. Common examples of these tests include the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, walking in a straight line, or even simply hopping on one foot. These tests are often difficult to complete for an intoxicated individual. Remember, these tests are not mandatory, and you may refuse to do them without facing additional consequences.

    Once arrested, you might be taken to the police station and booked into custody. The police might ask you some questions and ask you to submit to chemical testing. Either way, contact an attorney for help immediately.

    Different Types of DUI Offenses in Bucks County

    Not all DUIs are created equal. DUI charges and penalties may vary depending on how intoxicated the driver allegedly was when the police stopped them. Additionally, not all DUI charges involve alcohol. You may still be charged with a DUI for driving with controlled substances in your system rather than alcohol.

    General Impairment

    The lowest and least severe degree of DUI is known as “general impairment. A driver may be charged with general impairment under two different circumstances. First, the driver must have a BAC of at least .08% but not more than .10% up to 2 hours after driving. This is often referred to as a per se DUI as it is a DUI based on the statutory legal limit.

    The second way to be charged is by simply consuming enough alcohol to be unable to drive safely. You may be charged even if your BAC is under .08%. This tends to come up in cases where the driver does not drink very often and has a very low tolerance. Even with a low BAC, someone might still be too intoxicated to drive.

    High Rate of Alcohol

    The next level is charged as having a high rate of alcohol. As you can imagine, drivers at this level have a higher BAC. To be charged here, you must have a BAC of at least .10% but still less than .16%. Typically, drivers have their BA measured within 2 hours of being stopped by the police. Since BAC tends to decrease over time, your BAC must be at sufficiently high levels within 2 hours of the police stop. This is important to know as many drivers do not have their BAC measured until some time after being arrested.

    Highest Rate of Alcohol

    The third level is for those with the highest rate of alcohol. The driver must have a BAC of at least .16% or more to be charged at this level. It should be noted that drivers with a BAC this high are very intoxicated. Drivers might experience blurred vision, slurred speech, and dulled reflexes, among other symptoms. Often, the police can gather enough probable cause to arrest a driver for the highest rate of alcohol simply by talking and engaging with them, as the signs of intoxication are more obvious.

    Controlled Substances

    You can also be charged with a DUI for driving with controlled substances or a combination of substances in your system. For example, people driving while using mind-altering substances are often charged under this law. You may also be charged for driving while using drugs prescribed to you. Many prescription medicines come with warnings to avoid driving or operating heavy machinery while taking the medicine. Drivers might be unaware of how significantly they are affected by their medicine until they are behind the wheel of a speeding vehicle.

    Potential Criminal Charges and Penalties for DUIs in Bucks County

    Criminal charges for DUI offenses in Bucks County vary based on the BAC level of the defendant and their history with DUIs. Those facing their first DUI offense are likely to receive lighter sentences than those facing a second, third, or subsequent offense.

    First Offense

    A first offense is often charged as an ungraded misdemeanor. As such, defendants may or may not have their licenses suspended. For a first offense of general impairment, defendants face 6 months of probation and a fine of $300 in addition to substance abuse counseling. While you might not lose your driver’s license, it is still possible that the court might say otherwise.

    A first offense for a high rate of alcohol is more likely to lead to a license suspension of 12 months. You must also go to jail for no less than 48 consecutive hours and pay a fine of no less than $500 or more than $5,000. Drug and alcohol counseling is also mandatory.

    The highest rate of alcohol as a first offense is even more likely to cost you your license for 12 months. You may also be fined at least $1,000 but less than $5,000 and be sentenced to no less than 72 consecutive hours in jail.

    Second Offense

    The penalties and suspensions only get worse for second offenses at every level. You could go to jail for at least 5 days for general impairment and be fined no less than $300 but no more than $2,500. For a high level of alcohol, the potential jail time increases to at least 30 days, and the fine goes up to at least $750 but still not more than $5,000. For the highest rate of alcohol, you might go to jail for no less than 90 days, pay a fine of at least $1,500, and go to drug and alcohol courses.

    For a second offense, depending on how you are charged, you might lose your driver’s license for at least 12 months. If charges are more serious, such as for higher rates of alcohol, the suspension might be for 18 months.

    Third and Subsequent Offenses

    Any offense beyond a second offense is bad news. At this point, a lengthy 18-month suspension of your driver’s license is very likely. For a third general impairment offense, you face up to 10 days in jail and fines of at least $500 but not more than $5,000. For a high rate of alcohol, you face at least 90 days in jail and fines of at least $1,500 but not more than $10,000. A fourth offense for a high rate of alcohol ups the ante to 1 year behind bars. Finally, for the highest rate of alcohol, a third offense might see you put in jail for at least 1 year and fined at least $2,500.

    How to Determine Whether You Have Any Prior DUI Offenses in Bucks County

    Considering how important your driving history is when it comes to charging and sentencing for a current DUI, you should speak to your lawyer about your own record. Those who have never been stopped for a DUI can probably confidently say that this is their first offense. For others, the issue is a bit fuzzier.

    It is not uncommon for someone to face their second DUI offense, but their first offense was many years ago. For example, someone in their forties might face a second DUI charge while their first offense happened in their early twenties. Does the first DUI even still count at this point?

    Prosecutors sometimes try to use old DUIs to justify an upgrade in charges. However, they should not be looking back more than 10 years on your record, at least most of the time. If your prior DUIs are over 10 years old, our DUI lawyers can help you argue that your current DUI should be charged as a first offense, reducing your potential penalties.

    Ignition Interlock Devices and DUIs in Bucks County

    An ignition interlock device is often installed in a defendant’s vehicle after they have been convicted of a DUI. The device prevents your vehicle from starting if you have alcohol in your system. Drivers must first blow into the device when they get in their car. If alcohol is detected on their breath, the ignition interlock device will not allow the vehicle to start.

    According to 75 Pa.C.S. § 3805(a), ignition interlock devices are only installed when drivers have had their licenses suspended because of a DUI and are now petitioning to restore their licenses. As a condition of license restoration, drivers must often install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles. You might face serious consequences if you are caught driving a vehicle without an ignition interlock device. Additionally, having someone else blow into the device to get your car to start might land you in big trouble.

    Defending Yourself Against DUI Charges in Bucks County

    How you defend yourself depends on the nature of your DUI stop, how you were arrested, and the severity of your charges. As such, you must speak to a lawyer about your case as quickly as possible.

    One possible defense tactic is to examine the probable cause claimed by the police when they arrested you. Legally, the police are required to have sufficient probable cause to believe that a driver is intoxicated behind the wheel. If we believe that no such probable cause exists, your arrest and any evidence obtained subsequent to it might be invalidated.

    We can also review law enforcement’s methods during your DUI stop and arrest. There are very specific rules that police officers must follow, and if these rules are not adhered to, any evidence they obtain might be suppressed. For example, the police are not allowed to force drivers to submit to chemical testing, even when chemical testing is legally required. Instead, they must advise you of the consequences of refusal. Talk to a lawyer now if you were physically forced to submit to testing.

     Call Our Bucks County DUI Lawyers for Help Fighting Your Charges

    Call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 to set up a free, confidential review of your case with our Philadelphia DUI attorneys.