Philadelphia DUI Defense Lawyer
At the Law Office of Lloyd Long, we understand that people can make mistakes. If you have recently been arrested for a first-time DUI, a second or third DUI offense, or an offense related to drunk driving, such as an open container violation, our experienced Philadelphia DUI defense lawyers can help navigate you through the legal consequences of an arrest for intoxicated driving in Philadelphia.
Our award-winning legal team understands how important the outcome of your DUI is for you, and our criminal attorneys do everything in our power to ensure that your case is handled successfully. With years of legal experience fighting DUI charges in Philadelphia, you can rest assured knowing our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer has the skills, the knowledge, and the resources needed to help you.
To talk about your DUI case in a free and confidential legal consultation, call The Law Office of Lloyd Long today at (215) 302-0171. Handling cases throughout the Philadelphia area, we’re available to take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
DUI and Drunk Driving Laws in Philadelphia
In Philadelphia, drunk driving offenses and accidents are categorized by the driver’s level of impairment. The levels of impairment are categorized into three separate levels that are linked to the defendant’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). These levels will also be used to determine the penalties that the defendant may face if they are convicted.
The legal limit of alcohol in Pennsylvania is .08%. General impairment means the defendant was driving with a BAC of .08 to .099%. It could also mean that the defendant consumed alcohol before driving, but their BAC was not easily determined.
If you are a first time offender that was arrested within the general impairment range, you will be charged with an ungraded misdemeanor. This means, if convicted, you may be sentenced to six months of probation and a $300 criminal fine. You also may be ordered to seek treatment or attend an alcohol safety school.
If you are arrested multiple times for a general impairment DUI, the penalties will increase with every subsequent conviction. For example, if you have one prior DUI and you are convicted of another, you may serve up to six months in jail. You also can have your license suspended for a year.
A high BAC means that your BAC was between .10% and .159%. A defendant is typically charged with this level of impairment if they cause an accident while driving drunk and injure a person or damage property. The first time penalties for high BAC offense include up to six months in prison, the suspension of your license, and a possible criminal fine of $5,000.
You may also need to install an ignition interlock on your vehicle for at least a year. An ignition interlock device checks the driver’s BAC level before they can turn on their car. It is important to note that attempts to circumvent the device can result in additional criminal charges.
If you commit two DUIs with a high BAC, the penalties can jump from six months in prison to five years in prison.
If you are arrested with a BAC of .16% or higher, you will be subject to the stiffest DUI penalties in Philadelphia. For example, if you are convicted for having a BAC of .16% and you are a first-time offender, you can serve a minimum of 72 hours in prison. Two high BAC offenses will increase the maximum prison time from six months to five years.
Other penalties like a license suspension or a criminal fine will also be increased. For example, you could owe up to $10,000 in criminal penalties for a second .16% BAC offense.
It is also important to note that the state has an interest in rehabilitating defendants who commit a drunk driving offense. For example, if you qualify for Pennsylvania’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program, the penalties for a drunk driving offense can be decreased or eliminated.
You also could be eligible for an exemption from some penalties under certain circumstances. For example, if you must operate a company vehicle for your job, the court may allow you to drive the vehicle without an interlock device. However, you will likely have to inform your employer of your ignition interlock restriction.
Penalties for a DUI Charge in Philadelphia
According to state law, DUI offenses are classified by the blood alcohol content (BAC) of the alleged offender at the time of the arrest. The penalties you could face if you are convicted of DUI are grouped into three categories:
- General Impairment – If your BAC was between .08 and .99 when you were arrested, you may receive up to 6 months of probation and a fine of up to $300. While you are on probation, you must obey certain rules and avoid any additional arrests or criminal charges.
- High BAC – If your BAC was between .10 and .159, you could face a prison sentence ranging from 2 days to 6 months. You could also face fines between $500 and $5,000, in addition to a full year (12 months) of driver’s license suspension.
- Highest BAC – A BAC above .16 could mean a sentence of up to 6 months, fines between $1,000 and $5,000, and a 12-month driver’s license suspension period.
Depending on your level of impairment, whether you consented to a chemical test, and other factors, you could also face additional consequences beyond license suspension, incarceration, and fines, including:
- Assorted Surcharges
- Driver Safety Courses
- Mandatory Treatment
License suspension occurs soon after a DUI arrest in Philadelphia. After being arrested for DUI in Philadelphia, you only have 10 days to schedule your DMV hearing. Therefore, you need to take immediate action in order to protect your license and preserve your driving privileges.
The moment you get in touch with our Philadelphia defense attorneys, we will address each of your concerns, inform you of your rights, and guide you down the path that best suits your needs. We will fully educate you about your rights and legal options, so that you are more enabled to make informed and sound decisions every step of the way. We will not hand you off to a paralegal, nor will we treat you as just another case number. We will personally handle each aspect of your case.
What Happens at a DUI Stop in Philadelphia
A typical DUI stop begins with you being pulled over for erratic driving or some sort of minor traffic violation. Often, police officers wait in areas outside bars and other places where young people are known to drink and drive to keep lookout for anyone driving in a way that suggests they might be intoxicated. After you are pulled over, if the officer smells alcohol or drugs on your breath or in the vehicle, or notices that you are acting strangely or slurring your words, they may conduct further tests to determine whether to charge you with DUI.
These “roadside tests” include the possibility of a portable Breathalyzer test (PBT). This handheld device is less accurate than the Breathalyzer machines at the station, and its results cannot be used as evidence against you in court. However, they can be used as a basis to make the initial arrest and get you back to the station for further tests.
Other tests conducted at the roadside include the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, the walk and turn test, and the one leg stand Test. The HGN test involves the officer moving a pen or other object back in forth in front of your eyes, asking you to follow the pen with your eyes, and noting whether your eyes move involuntarily while the test is being conducted. For the walk and turn test, you are asked to put your foot heel-to-toe and take 9 steps forward, turn around, and take 9 steps back. The one leg stand test involves the motorist balancing on a single leg for 30 seconds.
If the officer concludes after these tests that they have sufficient cause to believe you are intoxicated, they will place you under arrest and transport you to the local police station.
What Field Sobriety Tests Do Police Officers Perform?
If you have been pulled over in Philadelphia as a driver suspected of being impaired by alcohol while driving, you may be familiar with field sobriety testing. Law enforcement officers across our state have received specialized training to perform sobriety tests, however, we know that all tests performed may not have to be held up in court due to errors made or a lack of proper training. The research-based standardized field sobriety test (SFST) includes the following three specific evaluations:
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)
HGN is the involuntary twitching or jerking movement of the eye that occurs as the eyes look to one side or the other. A person impaired by the use of alcohol shows signs of exaggerated nystagmus in four or more specific ways.
Walk and Turn (WAT)
If a person is impaired, he or she may have difficulty with tasks that use simple mental and physical exercises. In the walk and turn test, the suspected impaired driver is evaluated on eight indicators of impairment during a simple test.
One-Leg Stand (OLS)
In the one-leg stand test, an officer times the suspect standing with his or her foot about 6 inches off the ground for 30 seconds while looking for four indicators of impairment.
If you suspect that your test or the results may be invalid, it is critical to retain the skilled help of Philadelphia DUI defense attorney Lloyd Long as soon as possible.
Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer, Blood or Urine Test in Philadelphia?
When you arrive at the station, the officer will want to perform a test on the Breathalyzer machine to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC). They may also want blood or urine samples for testing. While you may be tempted a DUI test refusal in Philadelphia so as to not incriminate yourself by complying with these tests, unfortunately, if you refuse you will be charged with a separate crime of refusal.
Refusal is an entirely different crime that you will charged with in addition to DUI. It comes with its own set of penalties, including driver’s license suspension, jail time, and fines, that can often be harsh. As such, it is always best to cooperate fully with Breathalyzer and other required tests after a DUI stop.
Contact Our Philadelphia DUI Lawyers if You Were Arrested for Drunk Driving
If you were arrested for DUI in Philadelphia, it is imperative that you retain a skilled DUI attorney to represent you. A drunk driving conviction is a criminal conviction, and can stain your record for years. Every time you apply for a new job, the employer will see a DUI conviction come up in your background check.
With so much at stake, it’s critical to work with a criminal attorney who has extensive experience defending individuals charged with intoxicated driving in Philadelphia. At the Law Office of Lloyd Long, we have successfully represented over 20,000 cases. Members of our legal team have been recognized as among the top attorneys in their fields. We have also received the highest possible ratings from Super Lawyers, Martindale-Hubbell, and Avvo attorney rankings.
If you or someone you know has recently been arrested for driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you need to retain the immediate representation of Law Offices of Lloyd Long. If convicted, your driving rights will be immediately impacted. Additionally, you may be sentenced to jail time, community service, and additional consequences concerning your job or family. For example, if you share custody of your children with your ex-wife or ex-husband, a DUI conviction could prevent you being able to take them to and from school.
As DUI lawyers in Philadelphia, we have a complete understanding of the urgency of your charges and alternative options, such as the Pennsylvania ARD program. As such, we will take immediate action and work tirelessly in order to build a hard-hitting defense strategy. Regardless if you have been arrested for DUI, aggravated DUI, open container violations, or other offenses – we are here for you in your time of need. Let us help you navigate through the complexities of the legal system with a sense of ease and confidence. For a free legal consultation, call us immediately at (215) 302-0171.