Philadelphia DUI Defense Lawyer

Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Lawyers

DUIs are one of the most serious criminal charges in Philadelphia.  In 2016, nearly 20,000 DUI arrests were made in the state of Pennsylvania — the 5,180 DUI related crashes resulted in over 290 fatalities. Bucks County, specifically, has one of the highest DUI rates per capita in the country.

But while DUI may be a common charge, that doesn’t mean it’s a trivial charge.  The legal system of Pennsylvania imposes harsh punishments for individuals who are convicted of DUI (“Driving Under the Influence”), including mandatory jail time, large fines, and license suspensions.  Depending on the driver’s BAC (Blood Alcohol Content), and whether the DUI offense is their first, second, or third, those penalties can increase dramatically.

Penalties for DUI Charges in Philadelphia

If you are accused of drinking and driving, the penalties are far more severe. It is critical that you treat any DUI charge seriously regardless of whether you have ever been charged with a DUI before.

Potential penalties associated with a DUI conviction vary based on whether this is the first or subsequent offense. Depending on which offense, penalties could include any of the following:

  • Monetary fine of up to $10,000
  • Probation
  • Time in jail
  • Alcohol treatment program
  • Ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle
  • Mandatory alcohol highway safety school

In Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania, a BAC of 0.08% or greater will result in DUI charges.  Depending on the exact BAC level, and the driver’s record of previous offenses, those charges can lead to a variety of penalties with both short- and long-term effects.

First Offense DUI

  • BAC: 0.08% and higher, less than 0.10%
  • Fine: $300
  • Sentence: up to 6 months probation
  • License Suspension: none
  • BAC: 0.10%-0.159%
  • Fine: $500-$5,000
  • Sentence: minimum 2 days in jail
  • License Suspension: 1 year

Second Offense DUI

  • BAC: 0.08% and higher, less than 0.10%
  • Fine: $300-$2,500
  • Sentence: minimum 5 days in jail
  • License Suspension: 1 year
  • BAC: 0.10%-0.159%
  • Fine: $750-$5,000
  • Sentence: minimum 30 days in jail
  • License Suspension: 1 year

Third Offense DUI

  • BAC: 0.08% and higher, less than 0.10%
  • Fine: $500-$5,000
  • Sentence: minimum 10 days in jail
  • License Suspension: 1 year
  • BAC: 0.10%-0.159%
  • Fine: $1,500-$10,000
  • Sentence: minimum 90 days in jail
  • License Suspension: 18 months

It should be noted that while the BAC limit for adults of legal drinking age (21 or older) is 0.08%, the BAC limit is substantially lower for individuals drinking underage.

Minors With Alcohol-Related Charges

If you are a minor caught and convicted of drinking, buying, or transporting alcohol, your parents will be notified, you will have to pay a fine, and your driver’s license may be suspended. There will potentially be additional ramifications both at school and legally.

If you are a minor caught with alcohol, you never want to admit to drinking any of it, or that it was even yours. Instead, call our office to speak with a Philadelphia alcohol charge lawyer, and do not speak to the police without an attorney present.

Aggressive Defenses to a DUI in Philadelphia

If you were charged with a DUI, our Philadelphia attorneys will aggressively, but professionally, defend you. While we cannot guarantee success, we will fight for the best possible outcome given the facts and circumstances of your case. Depending on the facts of your situation, a plea agreement or ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program), if you are eligible, might be most beneficial. However, we are prepared to take your case to trial if required. We will fully advise you of all potential outcomes and proceed how you direct.

Field Sobriety Testing

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has developed three standardized field tests to determine the level of intoxication of an individual stopped for DUI. They are the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the one-leg stand test, and the walk and turn test. By applying an objective scoring system, the NHTSA has developed a reliable standard for law enforcement.

Philadelphia police often rely on these and other non-standardized tests, such as reciting the alphabet, the Rhomberg balance test, or the nose-to-finger test. Because there is no standardized scoring, these tests tend to carry less evidentiary weight. The prosecution will use any deviation between your performance and the instructions provided by law enforcement to establish that you were mentally and physically impaired due to alcohol.

All of the field sobriety tests are imperfect and your ability to perform well could be related to a range of legitimate reasons including illness, fatigue, or nervousness. Our Philadelphia DUI attorney will argue that you were not impaired and that field tests are not a reliable gauge for determining intoxication.

Blood Testing

Philadelphia police will use blood testing to determine if your BAC is above the .08 legal limit. While the results of a blood test are admissible evidence, they can be challenged. Several errors can occur when administering a blood test. Obtaining an accurate result requires a glass tube containing a mixture of anticoagulant and perseverative. If the mixture contains incorrect amounts of the perseverative or anticoagulant, the test results could be inflated.

Additionally, if the blood was drawn and stored correctly, the timing of the test could still negatively affect the result. The results reflect your BAC at the time the test was taken. However, your body can absorb alcohol long after you have stopped drinking. Depending on the time administered, the results could indicate an elevated BAC but not necessarily your BAC at the time you were driving.

The Breathalyzer

A common test to determine your BAC is a breath test. Similar to the timing issue with the blood test, your body continues to absorb alcohol well after you stopped drinking. Once again, the time it was administered is vital. If the police waited too long to test your breath, then it will not accurately reflect your BAC while you were behind the wheel. If you were given a breath test after two hours of the stop, the results are inadmissible.

There are rigorous protocols and guidelines for giving a breath test. If the police officer failed to adhere to the stated guidelines, the results of the test could be questioned. Furthermore, the device used to conduct the test is delicate, requiring careful maintenance and calibration to ensure an accurate result. Our Philadelphia DUI attorney will determine if there is a valid challenge to the results of a breath test. We will request documentation related to the device, including usage logs, maintenance records, and calibration specifications.

Sobriety Roadblocks

A tactic used by Philadelphia police is sobriety checks at roadblocks. Courts have held that sobriety roadblocks do not violate a driver’s constitutional rights as long as they meet specific protocols. Because sobriety checks are a matter of public safety, search warrants are not required. If you are stopped at a sobriety check, we can challenge its compliance with Federal and Constitutional prohibitions based on several factors based on Pennsylvania case law.

First, the method the police use to stop vehicles must be based on a mathematical system, not arbitrary, capricious, or based solely on the appearance of the driver or vehicle. For instance, stopping every fourth car would not violate any Constitutional prohibition. However, pulling you over because you are driving a sports car could be a violation.

Drivers must also be given sufficient warning that the checkpoint is approaching and the roadblock must be positioned at a location that experiences a significant level of drunk driving. Additionally, the stop needs to be brief and not include any physical search of your vehicle. Our seasoned attorneys will review every aspect of your stop to ensure that the police complied with every required guideline.

Refusing to Take a Blood or Breath Test

Refusing to take a blood or breath test after a stop based on suspicion of driving under the influence could result in the suspension of your driver’s license. Pennsylvania law requires you to submit to the tests if you are arrested for DUI. The suspension of motor privileges is a civil matter, not a criminal one, so the burden of proof for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is lower than in criminal cases.

Our Philadelphia lawyers will carefully review every detail of the incident to determine if you willfully and expressly refused the test. A refusal to take a test could be implied or expressed. And expressed refusal requires a clear statement that you would not comply with the administering of the test. An implied refusal could constitute several different actions, such as being unable to perform the test due to health reasons or an injury. A police officer could record your conduct as a refusal. Additionally, the arresting officer must explain the consequences of refusing to allow a test. We could challenge a refusal if you were not informed of the legal consequences.

Why You Need a DUI Defense Attorney in Philadelphia, PA

Anytime you are arrested for an alcohol-related charge, you should exercise your right to remain silent and not say anything that could incriminate you. If you admit to having drunk a certain amount of alcohol, it could be used against you later on.

If you or a loved one has been charged with the crime of DUI, it is critical to your success that you immediately retain a team of experienced and aggressive Philadelphia DUI defense attorneys.  At Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates, we offer our clients multiple advantages over other law firms that defend against DUI charges in Pennsylvania.

  • We are veteran DUI attorneys.  At Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates, our Philadelphia DUI attorneys have been representing DUI clients for over 30 years.  In our decades of legal work, we have handled more than 10,000 criminal cases.
  • We know Philadelphia.  Because of our many years serving Philadelphia and local communities across the state of Pennsylvania, we’ve been able to establish professional relationships with judges and jurors across the state.  We can utilize those relationships to benefit our clients.  Additionally, because we have been practicing in Philadelphia for so long, we’re highly familiar with area prosecutors, and the arguments they try to use.  Because we can anticipate the arguments, we’re exceptionally well-equipped to defend against them.
  • We are aggressive in court.  We take a highly rigorous approach to defense on your behalf.  Our attorneys have won major sentence reductions, and have had many cases dismissed altogether.  Our track record boasts a long list of client victories.  With 98% of our first-time DUI clients receiving no jail time or criminal record, our DUI success record is close to perfect.

Our Philadelphia DUI Lawyers Can Help You

The consequences of a DUI conviction can continue to cause damage long after the fines have been paid and the jail time has been served.  In some cases, the long-lasting loss of transport can ultimately lead to the loss of a job.  Additionally, a record of DUI convictions can bar drivers from finding employment in industries and positions involving transportation and vehicles.

A DUI charge is a serious matter.  If you or a loved one is facing allegations of DUI in Philadelphia, don’t delay: call the law offices of Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates at (609) 755-3115 in New Jersey or (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania immediately, or contact us online to arrange for a free and confidential consultation with a DUI defense attorney.