Philadelphia DUI Defense Lawyer
When going out for a few drinks with friends, most people make efforts to avoid driving themselves home. Sometimes that means getting a ride with someone else. Other times, it means calling a cab to take you home. Unfortunately, after a few drinks, your ability to make good decisions is a bit dulled, and you might somehow end up behind the wheel of a car. DUIs are huge mistakes that most of us regret almost immediately. However, the team at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long believes that people should be allowed to make up for their mistakes and that mistakes should not haunt you forever.
The penalties for DUI charges may range from more manageable punishments, like fines or community service, to very steep penalties, like losing your license or even jail time. Every DUI case is unique, and we need to examine the factors and details surrounding your DUI. Important information like your blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the results of chemical testing, field sobriety tests, and how you were pulled over must all be closely analyzed.
Our Philadelphia DUI defense lawyer will review your case and determine if your DUI can be challenged. Call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 to schedule a free legal consultation with our experienced team of legal professionals.
Why Should You Hire Lloyd Long After a DUI?
Hiring an attorney is not a decision to make lightly. Not every lawyer has the skills, experience, and knowledge to represent just any case. If you are charged with a DUI attorney, you need a unique attorney who can help you handle the criminal and civil aspects of your case. You must also consider what kind of services you have the resources to pay for.
Our attorneys will help you challenge the DUI charges against you without forcing you to break the bank. Before beginning work on your case, you can meet with our staff in a free legal consultation to discuss your case, including details about fees and costs. We can work with you to provide you the legal services you need in a way that you are able to afford.
Our team has the experience to successfully challenge DUI charges and the penalties and consequences that come along with those charges. Lloyd Long has previously worked as an Assistant District Attorney for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and has extensive experience in criminal law. Our office has taken on cases ranging from mild misdemeanors to severe felonies. We are more than prepared to help you fight your DUI charges.
It can feel not only frightening to be charged with a DUI but also embarrassing. People are quick to judge, and the very mention of a DUI may draw the ire of friends and neighbors. However, you are not guilty until a judge or jury says so. In the meantime, you have important rights that must be protected. Our team will not only fight your charges and penalties, but we will work to protect your legal rights from overzealous prosecutors.
Upon graduating from Rutgers University School of Law, Lloyd Long was awarded the Richard L. Barbour Memorial Award for his pursuit of justice in the field of public service. Lloyd Long has also been named as a Top 100 Lawyer by the National Lawyers’ Association and has a perfect AVVO rating. Call our offices for a free legal consultation with our Philadelphia DUI defense lawyer.
What is the Average Cost for a DUI Charge?
The costs of a DUI can range based on factors like your driving record, your BAC, whether anybody was injured, and if property was damaged. A defendant with a history of previous DUIs may face enhanced penalties compared to a first-time offender. Similarly, there may be harsher penalties for defendants who had higher BACs or caused bodily harm or property damage. If you caused an accident during your DUI, you might face additional criminal penalties that come with their own fines and possible jail or prison sentences. Call our Philadelphia DUI defense lawyer for help with your case today.
What Are the Penalties for a DUI in Pennsylvania?
The way DUIs are charged is based on numerous factors that are unique in each case. Two defendants facing first-time DUIs could end up with different penalties. For example, a defendant with a higher BAC will face harsher penalties than someone with a lower BAC. It is important to speak with our Philadelphia DUI defense lawyer about your case as soon as possible. You might not realize the full extent of your penalties, and you could be unprepared to challenge your charges. The full penalties for DUI offenses can be found under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3804.
First Time DUI
DUIs stemming from relatively low BAC levels are referred to as “general impairment” DUIs. For a first-time DUI offense charged as general impairment, a defendant may be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of 6 months on probation. They may also have to pay a fine of $300 and attend alcohol safety courses. There may also be drug and alcohol treatment requirements that must be fulfilled.
A defendant charged with a somewhat more serious DUI, known as a “high rate of BAC”, will face different penalties, even as a first-time offender. A first-time offender charged with a high BAC DUI may face jail time for at least 48 consecutive hours. A weekend in jail might not seem like a big deal, but it is an experience most people want to avoid. Jail is not pleasant, even for short terms. Additionally, guilty defendants have to pay fines of at least $500 but no more than $5,000. Other requirements include alcohol safety courses and drug and alcohol treatment.
There is an even more serious tier of DUI offenses known as “highest BAC.” A first-time offender charged with this kind of DUI will face very harsh penalties, even though they might otherwise have a clean driving record and criminal history. For your first offense, you could be sentenced to at least 72 consecutive hours in jail and made to pay a fine of at least $1,000 but no more than $5,000. The penalties for this kind of DUI are much more expensive and severe. As with most other DUI charges, you may also have to attend alcohol safety courses and complete drug and alcohol treatment.
The differences between these various types of DUIs are explained below. Defendants often do not realize that there are different kinds of DUIs based on your level of intoxication. If you do not consult with an attorney about your case, you might be in for a rude awakening when you are put in front of a judge. Our Philadelphia DUI defense attorney can help you assess your charges and determine an accurate picture of your penalties.
Defendants charged with just one DUI often face harsh penalties and an unsympathetic court. For defendants with a history of DUI charges, the consequences get even worse. Courts do not like when anyone gets a DUI, but repeat offenders may be treated with even less leniency and more disdain.
A defendant charged with their second general impairment DUI may face imprisonment for at least 5 days. They may also have to pay fines of at least $300 but no more than $2,500. Additional general impairment DUI offenses may be met with at least 10 days jail time and increased fines of at least $500 but no more than $5,000.
A second high BAC DUI may be penalized by a jail term of at least 30 days and fines of no less than $750 and no more than $5,000. A third offense may be penalized by jail time of no less than 90 days and higher fines of at least $1,500 but no greater than $10,000. For a fourth high BAC DUI, you could be sentenced to at least 1 year in prison in addition to the fines just mentioned.
A DUI charged as a “highest BAC” offense comes with very harsh penalties, and you should not attempt to handle this kind of case on your own. For a second offense, you could be sentenced to at least 90 days in jail and made to pay fines of at least $1,500. Any subsequent offense may be penalized by at least 1 year in prison and fines of at least $2,500.
All subsequent DUI charges may also come with additional requirements, like alcohol safety classes and mandatory drug and alcohol treatment. Our Philadelphia DUI defense lawyer can help you challenge your charges or get them reduced, so your penalties are more manageable.
What Are the Types of DUIs in Pennsylvania?
As mentioned above, there are multiple types of DUI charges in Pennsylvania. The different types of DUI charges are, from least to most serious, general impairment, high BAC, and highest BAC. These various types of DUI charges and their differences can be found under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802. If you are not sure what kind of DUI charges you are facing, call our Philadelphia DUI defense attorney for help and guidance.
General impairment refers to a DUI where the driver has consumed enough alcohol to be unable to safely operate a motor vehicle. The driver’s BAC does not necessarily have to be greater than the legal limit of .08%. If the driver has alcohol in their system, and the police officer reasonably believes the driver is unfit to drive, the driver could be charged. However, drivers may also be charged with general impairment DUIs when they have a measurable BAC of at least .08% but less than .10% within two hours of being pulled over.
The next step up is a high BAC DUI. This type of DUI is similar to a general impairment DUI but involves a greater amount of alcohol in the driver’s system. To be charged with this kind of DUI, the driver must have a BAC of at least .10% but less than .16% within two hours of having actually operated their vehicle. To be charged with this DUI, a driver must have their BAC measured by the authorities. In most cases, a breathalyzer is used, but other methods such as blood and urine tests are possible.
DUIs for the highest BAC are very severe. This level of DUI requires that drivers have a BAC of at least .16% or greater within two hours of being stopped for driving under the influence. A BAC of .16% is very high indeed as it is twice the legal limit. If you are charged with a highest BAC DUI, your penalties will be very severe, even if you are a first-time offender. Contact our Philadelphia DUI defense attorney for help handling your case.
What Happens During a DUI Stop?
A DUI stop usually takes some time to complete. Any number of things may happen at a DUI stop. You will first be asked a few basic questions about yourself, like your name, proof of ID, vehicle, registration, and other similar questions. If the police officer believes you are intoxicated, there may be additional questioning. You might even have to perform field sobriety tests. If the police officer suspects you are intoxicated, the DUI stop will end with your arrest. After any DUI stop, you should speak with an attorney about your case. Our Philadelphia DUI defense lawyer can help you evaluate your case and figure out the best way to approach your defense strategy.
Field Sobriety Test
As part of a DUI stop, law enforcement officials might ask you to perform field sobriety tests. These tests are simple physical tasks that are very easy for a sober person to complete but may be difficult for someone who is intoxicated. The more intoxicated a driver is, the harder these tests are to complete. Remember, field sobriety testing is not mandatory. If an officer asks you to perform these tests, you do not have to comply. If you do agree to perform the tests, they may be admissible in court as evidence of intoxication but can be very unreliable. Some tests may only be used to support the police officer’s probable cause for your arrest, not as evidence in court. In many cases, it may be possible to challenge the validity of a field sobriety test and undermine the police officer’s probable cause for your arrest.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)
The horizontal gaze nystagmus test (HGN) focuses on the movement of your eyes. It is a very simple test, and you may have gone through such a test if you have ever visited an eye doctor. An HGN test involves a police officer moving an object, usually something like a pen or pencil, and asking you to follow it only with your eyes. Ordinarily, when asked to follow a moving object with your eyes, your eyes will follow the object smoothly and steadily. However, if you are intoxicated, your eyes will move in a more jerky or unsteady motion.
The test can be performed very quickly and easily. A police officer may not even have you exit the vehicle to perform the test. They could simply pull out a pen and ask you to follow its movement with your eyes while you sit in your car. However, the test is also very unreliable, as any number of reasons could cause your eyes to move in a jerky, unsteady fashion. Certain medical conditions or other circumstances could affect your eyes and render the test inaccurate. However, the test could be used to justify using more tests during your DUI stop. In Pennsylvania, the HGN test is generally not admissible in a DUI trial.
If you were subjected to field sobriety testing of any kind, you need to discuss what happened with an attorney. Our Philadelphia DUI defense attorney can go over your field sobriety testing experience and determine if it has any serious impact on your case.
The walk-and-turn test is exactly what it sounds like. It is a test in which you walk in a straight line, turn around, and walk back to where you started. The test usually asks drivers to walk a specific number of steps before turning around. You usually must walk heel to toe, which can be difficult if you are intoxicated, and your balance is impaired. You must also turn around on one foot before walking back.
The test allows the police to check things like balance and precision, which would both be impaired if you were intoxicated. However, the police are also looking at your ability to listen to instructions and follow directions. A drunk driver might have difficulty remembering to walk the precise number of steps or might fail to remain walking in a straight line. An inability to follow very simple directions could be a sign of intoxication.
Similar to other field sobriety testing, the walk-and-turn test may be admissible in court but is very unreliable and easily challenged. Road conditions, weather, and the protocols followed by police may all render the walk-and-turn test defective. However, the test may be used by police to build probable cause for your arrest. Call our Philadelphia DUI defense attorney if you were subjected to any field sobriety testing.
One-Leg Stand (OLS)
The one-leg test is similar to the walk-and-turn test because it requires physical movement and following simple instructions. The one-leg test requires drivers to stand on one leg with one of their feet a few inches off the ground for about 30 seconds. Intoxicated individuals often fall over or fail to understand how to perform the test.
Much like the other field sobriety tests, the one-leg test is admissible in court as evidence but can be challenged for being very unreliable. People who have balance issues due to underlying medical conditions might easily fail this test without any alcohol in their system. Call our Philadelphia DUI defense attorney for help.
Breathalyzer tests may be administered before your arrest or after. When administered before an arrest, the test is typically referred to as a preliminary breathalyzer test. These tests are usually not admissible in court but may be used to support probable cause for your arrest. Chemical testing performed with a different type of calibrated breath test after an arrest is admissible as evidence of your BAC. Chemical testing after arrest usually comes in the form of a blood test. Drivers cannot refuse chemical testing. While the police will not force you to submit to testing, they may impose additional criminal charges and penalties for refusal to submit to testing.
The police frequently employ breathalyzer tests, and they must maintain their testing devices to ensure that BAC measurements are accurate. If you think the breathalyzer device used in your case was defective or the results were inaccurate, you may challenge your BAC measurements from the test. If successful, we can get the breathalyzer test results excluded. Without any BAC measurements to prove intoxication, the prosecutor’s case will be extremely weak, and we will be in a much better position to have your charges greatly reduced or even dropped altogether.
Blood testing also measures your BAC, but the procedure works differently than other forms of chemical testing. The authorities have to be much more careful about how they perform this test because it is perceived as a much great infringement on a person’s body and privacy. Blood testing requires piercing a person’s skin to take a blood sample for testing. Although blood testing is a standard medical practice that many people might not see as terribly invasive, it is far more invasive than other forms of testing in the eyes of the law.
To take a blood sample, the police typically must obtain a valid warrant. There may be situations where they can get around this rule, so talk to an attorney.
This is important in cases where you have been arrested for suspicion of driving while under the influence of drugs rather than alcohol. While alcohol can be tested for using a breathalyzer, drugs cannot. This means that if the police want to determine if there were drugs in your system while you were driving, they will likely need to perform a blood test. Call our Philadelphia DUI defense lawyer immediately if you were subjected to a blood test without a warrant. There is a chance your blood testing was the result of coercion rather than consent.
Can You Refuse a Breathalyzer, Blood, or Urine Test in Philadelphia?
Breathalyzer tests are often given after you have been arrested and taken into custody. When you arrive at the station, the arresting officer will want to perform a test on the breathalyzer machine to determine your blood alcohol content. They may also want blood or urine samples for testing. While you may be tempted to refuse to submit to testing, a DUI test refusal in Philadelphia so as to not incriminate yourself is illegal. Unfortunately, if you refuse, you will be charged with a separate crime of refusal.
Refusal is an entirely different crime that you will be charged with in addition to DUI. It comes with its own set of penalties, including driver’s license suspension, jail time, and fines, which can often be harsh. As such, it is always best to cooperate fully with a breathalyzer and other required tests after a DUI stop.
The chemical breathalyzer test, unlike a preliminary breath test, is admissible as evidence of your intoxication. Breathalyzer tests are more scientific and reliable than somewhat crude field sobriety tests. However, breathalyzer results can still be challenged. If the police failed to properly maintain their breathalyzer testing equipment, the test could be inaccurate. We can work to suppress the breathalyzer test results if we believe those test results are wrong or were performed in a way that violated your rights. Call our Philadelphia DUI defense attorney about your breathalyzer testing experience as soon as possible.
Blood testing is unique because it is far more invasive than breathalyzer tests. Generally, the police must have a warrant to draw a blood sample and cannot impose additional charges against a defendant for refusing to provide a blood sample without a warrant.
Types of Defenses for a DUI Charge
You may challenge your DUI charges if there was no probable cause for your stop. The authorities have broad powers to pull over vehicles if they suspect misbehavior. However, the police cannot pull people over based on hunches or gut instinct. There must be an articulable reason for a stop. For example, you could be pulled over for speeding, but the officer detects the smell of alcohol and proceeds to question you about your drinking. If you believe you were stopped with no probable cause, you may have grounds for a defense.
You can also challenge the sufficiency of the evidence against you. For example, suppose a police officer suspects you were driving while intoxicated because you swerved between lanes, but there is no further evidence. In that case, you can argue there is not nearly enough evidence to convict you of a DUI. We may be able to reduce the evidence against you by challenging induvial pieces of evidence until there is almost nothing left. If breathalyzer test results or blood test results can be excluded, there is a good chance the remaining evidence will be too weak.
Breathalyzer tests are important for prosecutors to secure DUI convictions. They are a common form of chemical testing and are heavily relied on for accurate BAC measurements. However, there may be problems with the testing procedures used. For example, blood tests can be tainted if the person drawing your blood used an alcohol swap to clean your arm before putting the needle in. There are other procedures that must be followed for proper storage, testing, and reporting of BAC levels. Any issues with these testing procedures could invalidate the test results and get the evidence thrown out. We can challenge the results and hopefully have them suppressed.
DUI checkpoints are used to stop many drivers at once and check for intoxication. However, because there is no probable cause for individual stops, the police must follow strict rules to prevent an infringement of rights. For example, the police must set up a system to avoid arbitrary stops, like stopping every third car. If you believe you were stopped for an invalid reason, like your race or ethnicity, you may be able to invalidate the stop. Call our Philadelphia DUI defense attorney for help.
Contact an Experienced Philadelphia DUI Attorney Today
If you are facing DUI charges, you could be in serious trouble. DUIs can be penalized with fines, jail time, and a whole host of other consequences. Contact our Philadelphia DUI defense attorney for help. Call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 to schedule a free, confidential legal consultation.