A fun night out on the town can turn into a legal nightmare if you are stopped by the police while driving after consuming alcohol. The Commonwealth takes drunk driving extremely seriously and, if convicted, you can face penalties that affect your finances, your ability to drive, and your liberty. At Young Marr & Associates, our team of seasoned Montgomery County, PA DUI defense lawyers knows how to mount a successful defense against a DUI charge. If you or a loved one has been charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Montgomery County, PA, contact our firm at (866) 781-4058 so that one of our lawyers can get to work on your case right away.
DUI Arrest Procedure in Montgomery County
Sometimes, the police will set up a DUI checkpoint where they check every vehicle that passes to ensure that no one is driving drunk. This type of checkpoint usually occurs at a time when many people historically have driven drunk, like a holiday weekend or after a big concert or event. Typically, however, a motorist is pulled over on suspicion of DUI after an officer notices them driving irregularly or committing some sort of traffic offense, such as speeding or making an illegal turn.
After you are pulled over, the officer may make observations such as that you are slurring your speech or if your breath or the vehicle smell like alcohol or drugs. They may ask you questions about whether you consumed alcohol or did drugs prior to driving. If they feel further investigation is merited, they will conduct a series of roadside tests which may include the following:
- Portable Breathalyzer test (PBT)
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test
- Walk and Turn Test
- One Leg Stand Test
If the officer feels based on his observations and the results of these tests that there is probable cause to believe that you have committed DUI, they will arrest you and transport you to the police station for further tests and booking.
Types of DUI Charges and Penalties in Montgomery County, PA
The charges and penalties you face when you are arrested for DUI will depend on how high your blood alcohol content (BAC) was when you were pulled over as well as whether you have been previously convicted of a DUI offense. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania separates DUI charges into three tiers depending on the severity of the incident.
Tier One: General Impairment DUI
A general impairment DUI is charged when you are found to have driven either with an undetermined BAC or a BAC between .08% and .099%. If you are charged with a general impairment DUI and this is your first DUI offense, the charge is an ungraded misdemeanor with penalties including up to 6 months on probation, fines up to $300, and mandatory alcohol safety school attendance. If it your second DUI offense, it is also charged as an ungraded misdemeanor, but penalties can include a 12-month license suspension, jail time between 5 days and 6 months, and fines up to $2,500.
Finally, if you have had 2 or more previous DUI convictions, the charge is a second-degree misdemeanor and penalties can include a 12-month license suspension, a prison sentence between 10 days and 2 years, and up to $5,000 in fines. Furthermore, you may be required to equip your car with an ignition interlock device for as long as one year.
Tier Two: High BAC DUI
You will be charged with a high BAC DUI if your blood alcohol content is between .10% to .159% when you are arrested. A first offense is an ungraded misdemeanor and penalties can include a 12-month license suspension, between 48 hours and 6 months in prison, and up to $5,000 in fines. A second offense is also an ungraded misdemeanor punishable by a 12-month license suspension, between 30 days and 6 months in prison, and fines up to $5,000.
If your high BAC DUI is your third DUI conviction, it will be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor and you will face penalties including an 18-month license suspension, between 90 days and 5 years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines, and 1 year with the ignition interlock device. If it is your fourth conviction or beyond, it is a first-degree misdemeanor and you will face an 18-month license suspension, between 1 to 5 years in prison, fines up to $10,000, and 1 year with the ignition interlock device.
Tier Three: Highest BAC DUI
Highest BAC DUI is charged when your blood alcohol content when pulled over was .16% or higher. For a first offense, this charge is an ungraded misdemeanor and penalties can include a 12-month license suspension, 72 hours to 6 months in prison, and fines up to $5,000. If this is your second DUI offense, it will be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor and you will face an 18-month license suspension, 90 days to 5 years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines, and one year with the ignition interlock device.
Finally, if you have been convicted of two or more previous DUIs, the charge will be a first-degree misdemeanor and you will face an 18-month license suspension, between 1 and 5 years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines, and 1 year with the ignition interlock device.
Note that all drug related DUIs are charged as a highest BAC DUI, no matter the amount of drugs found in your system.
Refusal as a Separate Offense
After being arrested for DUI, you will be transported to the local police station. There, you will be required to submit to a Breathalyzer test. Depending on the nature of your charges, you may also be required to submit to blood or urine tests.
If you refuse to submit to these tests, you will be charged with the separate crime of refusal. This crime can result in severe penalties including driver’s license suspension, mandatory jail time, and large fines. If this is not your first refusal offense, the penalties can be even more steep.
Contact our Experienced Montgomery County, PA DUI Lawyers Today
DUI convictions can result in serious penalties that can seriously disrupt your life. If you or a family member has been charged with DUI, a Montgomery County, PA DUI defense lawyer like the ones at Young Marr & Associates can help protect your rights and fight bring your case to a speedy and positive resolution. Call us today at (866) 781-4058 for a free consultation.