A conviction of driving under the influence (DUI) can ruin your life. The penalties are severe and usually include a driver’s license suspension, significant fines, and mandatory jail time. You must take a DUI arrest seriously to avoid these potential penalties. Contact our Norristown DUI defense lawyer immediately to learn more about your rights and potential defenses.
If you or a loved one was arrested for DUI in Norristown, call Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates at (215) 372-8667 immediately to arrange for a free, confidential legal consultation. Our lawyers have decades of experience handling DUI charges in the Norristown area and fighting to keep defendants out of jail.
Penalties for DUI Charges in Norristown
Penalties for DUI convictions in Norristown, PA are based on a three-tier system based on the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC)
- Low tier DUI can be charged for any intoxicated driving or driving with a BAC of .08% or higher but under .10%.
- Mid-tier DUI can be charged for driving with a BAC of .10% or higher but under .16%.
- High-tier DUI can be charged for driving with a BAC of .16% or higher.
All drug DUIs or DUIs for a combination of drugs and alcohol are charged at the highest tier, no matter the amount of controlled substance in the driver’s system.
Each level of impairment has a minimum sentencing requirement:
- A driver convicted low-tier DUI will be sentenced to probation, will be fined $300, and will be required to take DUI courses. The court could mandate a drug or alcohol treatment program.
- A mid-tier DUI conviction will carry a 48-hour jail sentence, six months of probation, a mandatory $500 fine that could be increased to $5,000, a one-year driver’s license suspension, and a mandatory DUI course. The court could order drug or alcohol treatment.
- A high-tier DUI conviction requires a minimum 72-hour jail sentence, six months of parole, a one-year driver’s license suspension, and a mandatory $1,000 fine that could be increased to $5,000. The court could order drug and alcohol treatment.
Prior offenses within the last ten years will usually increase the penalties.
ARD for Drunk Driving Arrests in Norristown
Because of the significant penalties, it is essential to take a DUI arrest seriously. Our Norristown DUI defense lawyers will thoroughly evaluate your case, review your arrest, and explain all of your available options. Depending on the specific facts of your case, we might recommend you for ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition).
ARD is a pre-trial intervention program offered by each county in Pennsylvania. The purpose of the program is to offer non-violent offenders or offenders with no criminal record the opportunity for rehabilitation. It also avoids lengthy and costly court proceedings. Often, ARD is available for drivers arrested for their first DUI. If you qualify for ARD, you will be required to accept certain conditions:
- You will have to pay restitution for any property damage you may have caused while driving drunk.
- You will have to complete a substance abuse treatment program.
- You must agree to up to two years of supervision.
- You will do community service.
Another benefit of ARD is that there are no mandatory fines imposed. However, the court might require you to pay court costs or fees as well as an ARD fee.
Challenging DUI Arrests and Charges in Norristown
There are many routes to challenging DUI charges in Norristown, PA.
Challenging Actual Operation
After a DUI arrest, one of the first things a prosecutor needs to show is that you were actually driving a vehicle. While this may sound easy, some cases are challenging. Usually, any time that you have your keys with you and you are inside the car, you can be charged with DUI. If you did not have the ability to operate your car or police cannot prove that you had entered your vehicle yet, you might be able to get charges dropped.
Challenging Reasonable Suspicion and Probable Cause
For a police officer to stop your car, there must be “reasonable suspicion” that you were unable to safely drive the vehicle because you were intoxicated or high. Unless you were swerving between lanes, driving unreasonably slow, or violating other traffic laws, there might have been no reason to stop your vehicle.
Instead of a traffic stop based on reasonable suspicion, you could be pulled over at a sobriety checkpoint. These checkpoints are legal if they meet with certain requirements:
- The stop must be short.
- Police may not search the vehicle or any passengers without additional probable cause.
- There must be adequate notice of the sobriety roadblock through signs, newspaper postings, or other means.
- The location of the roadblock must be a stretch of road or highway with a history of drunk driving incidents.
- Vehicles cannot be stopped randomly nor because of who is driving. There must be a systematic method for selecting cars, such as stopping every fifth car.
If you are pulled over for an alleged DUI, a Norristown police officer must have “probable cause” to arrest you. To establish probable cause that you are were impaired by drugs or alcohol, an arresting officer will conduct several tests.
Field Sobriety Tests
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration developed three standard field sobriety tests to help law enforcement officers determine whether an individual is physically or mentally impaired due to alcohol or drug use. These tests are standardized and must be administered in a specific way or else their results are not reliable. Often, Norristown police officers lack proper training in conducting the tests. Additionally, your ability to perform the tests might have been negatively affected by other issues, such as fatigue, injury, or anxiety.
Blood and Breath Tests
Blood and breath tests measure drivers’ BAC. Our experienced DUI defense attorneys can challenge both blood and breath tests in a variety of ways.
First, timing is a critical element in administering either test. Your body continues to absorb alcohol after you stopped drinking. Therefore, conducting the tests several hours after you were stopped might provide an inaccurate, elevated result.
Police officers are not always adequately trained in administering or monitoring these tests. If they fail to follow the exact procedures and guidelines for giving the tests, the results could be challenged in court as unreliable. Additionally, the device used during chemical breath tests is sensitive. It requires routine maintenance and proper calibration. We will demand the device’s service logs and the manufacturer’s specifications to challenge the results.
Call Our Norristown DUI Lawyers for a Free Consultation
DUI convictions carry grave, long-lasting consequences that could adversely affect you for years to come. Not only do you face the possibility of having your driver’s license suspended, but a DUI conviction could also threaten your future employment possibilities. If you or a loved one was arrested for an alleged DUI, contact our experienced Norristown DUI defense lawyer immediately. Call Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates at (215) 372-8667 to arrange for a free, confidential consultation.