Pennsylvania laws are designed to be tough on driving under the influence (DUI). If you are facing third-offense DUI charges in Pennsylvania, you may be dealing with the prospect of receiving serious penalties, such as a large fine and significant jail time.
For these cases, an exceptional DUI defense attorney is critical. A seasoned DUI attorney can fight to protect your rights on your behalf and secure the best possible outcome for you.
Are you facing third-offense charges for a DUI in Pennsylvania? Here is what you need to know.
Driving under the influence (DUI) in Pennsylvania is defined as driving a motor vehicle while having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least .08. The average person has no way to determine their BAC easily. Furthermore, most people will reach this BAC after about two to three drinks, though some may reach it even faster.
This means that it can be difficult to gauge whether you have reached the legal BAC limit, as the amount of alcohol it takes to reach that number can vary from person to person.
Your BAC isn’t only used to determine whether you were driving while intoxicated. It is also used to determine how severe the penalties are for driving drunk. DUI penalties increase depending on what tier of impairment your BAC places you in.
If you have a BAC of .08 to .099, you can face penalties for general impairment. With a BAC of .10 to .159, you may face high BAC penalties. And if your BAC is .16 or higher, you will face the highest BAC penalties.
It is important to note that if you refuse a breath test to determine your BAC, you will typically be charged at the highest impairment level.
Pennsylvania gives significant mandatory jail time for any third-offense DUI, even if no one was injured.
To determine whether you qualify for a third-offense DUI, the prosecution will look at your criminal history. If you have at least two previous convictions for a DUI in Pennsylvania or any other state during the past 10 years, you will be charged as a third-time offender.
If you are facing a third offense DUI, your biggest concern is probably how much time you will spend in jail. The least serious third offense DUI is a second-degree misdemeanor, which can result in anywhere from 10 days to two years in prison. At higher levels of impairment, you can be sentenced to up to five or even seven years in prison.
The minimum fine you will be assigned for a third offense DUI is $500. And even at a general impairment level, you can be fined up to $5,000. If your impairment is any higher, that maximum increases as high as $15,000.
At the lowest level of impairment, your license will be suspended for 12 months. At any BAC higher than that, you will lose your license for 18 months.
Getting your license back will require taking certain steps. Once you have committed three DUIs or more, the first step in recovering your license is often opting for substance abuse treatment.
If the judge believes that you are addicted to alcohol or another substance, they will require you to complete substance abuse treatment before your license is returned to you.
However, even if the judge does not require treatment, you may still choose to do so at any time, and your decision can impact the rest of your case.
If the judge does order treatment, though, it is not optional. You will need to complete the treatment to get your license back. And if you refuse to complete it, the judge may assign you additional penalties.
In addition to completing substance abuse treatment, you may be required to install certain devices on your vehicle.
To ensure that you aren’t driving after drinking alcohol, a judge will require you to install an ignition interlock device on a vehicle. These devices prevent the vehicle from operating until they have confirmed that the driver is not driving with alcohol in their system.
You need to keep these devices installed on your vehicles for at least a year, and any attempt to tamper with them or remove them will result in additional penalties, such as revocation of your license.
Unfortunately, at the highest impairment level, a third-offense DUI is a felony. And the long-term consequences of being convicted of a felony are much more serious than the consequences of being convicted of a misdemeanor.
If you have a job that requires you to drive a vehicle, your employer may let you go if your license is suspended. But even if your license is not suspended, your employer may still terminate your employment.
Pennsylvania is an at-will employment state, which means that you can be fired without a reason or for reasons that don’t involve your duties, as long as it isn’t for something protected by law. Unfortunately, the law doesn’t protect your job based on your criminal history. And for many employers, a DUI offense can serve as a reason for firing.
Your employment can also be affected by the DUI penalties themselves. A third-offense DUI often involves jail time, which can increase the likelihood that you will lose your job. And when it comes time to find a new one, employers may refuse to hire you because of your criminal history.
Another consequence of being convicted of a DUI offense is that your car insurance rates will go up. Frequently, your rates will increase high enough to dwarf any fines the state gives you, even for a third-offense DUI. And those increased rates will likely last for years before the insurance company stops charging them.
Additionally, by the time you have a third DUI, some insurance companies might refuse to sell you insurance. And if you can’t buy insurance, you effectively can’t drive a car.
Keep in mind that there are additional legal consequences if you harm another person or cause property damage due to driving while intoxicated. These actions typically result in felony charges, which often involve significant jail time.
Proper legal representation is important in any legal issue, but perhaps even more so when it comes to a third-offense DUI. The penalties for this charge are more serious than for first and second offenses, and with a history of driving while intoxicated offenses, it can be more challenging to gain a good result in court.
The right DUI defense attorney can work to reduce any penalties you are facing and ensure you receive the best possible outcome. An experienced lawyer has an intricate knowledge of DUI law and knows how to get positive results even when the odds are against them.
DUI cases can be extremely difficult to take on. While the state has to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, things like breathalyzer or blood tests can make the state’s case easier to prove.
Consequently, many law firms won’t even take DUI cases because their attorneys don’t have the necessary experience to handle them. You need a law firm that has previously handled many of these cases and has a proven record of securing positive outcomes.
For this reason, it’s best to turn to a law firm that has handled countless DUI cases in Pennsylvania. The types of lawyers who can navigate these cases, know every aspect of the law and are exceptional at investigation.
This is the kind of lawyer you need on your side when you are facing the potentially severe penalties associated with a third-offense DUI.
Even if you chose not to be represented by a lawyer in your first two DUI cases, it’s not too late to secure representation now. And for a third-offense DUI, that representation is vital. This type of offense carries penalties that can affect your life for years to come.
You don’t have to face these consequences alone. At McCormick & Vilushis LLC, our criminal defense attorneys have successfully assisted clients charged with DUIs for decades. We know the complexities of Pennsylvania law when it comes to DUI charges, and we can develop a tailored legal strategy based on the unique details of your case.
Contact us to schedule your free consultation to discuss your legal options today.
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