In Pennsylvania, most DUI charges, even if you are a multiple offender, are treated as misdemeanors. Even if you are arrested for a third DUI offense with the highest blood alcohol content penalties, you will only be charged with a first degree misdemeanor, with a possible prison sentence of one to five years, the suspension of your license for up to 18 months and a potential fine of $10,000. To be charged with a felony DUI in Pennsylvania, you must be charged with drinking and driving, and it must be shown that, while driving intoxicated, you caused bodily injury (including death) to another person.
Though felony DUI cases are rare, they are high profile cases that prosecutors love to exploit. If you have been charged with felony driving under the influence, you need to take appropriate steps to protect your interests.
• Hire an experienced lawyer—Just because you failed a breathalyzer or blood alcohol content (BAC) test does not mean that you have no defenses, and should plead guilty and throw yourself on the mercy of the court. Police and prosecutors make mistakes all the time. In their haste to accumulate arrests and convictions, they may violate your most basic rights. Police may pull you over without establishing probable cause. They may take you into custody without properly advising you of your Miranda rights. They may use illegal or incorrect field sobriety tests, or may take steps that compromise the integrity or validity of breathalyzer or blood alcohol tests.
• Say as little as possible—You have a constitutional right to remain silent. Exercise it. The police may use a variety of tactics to get you to talk, telling you that they are simply trying to help, or threatening you with greater sanctions if you don’t cooperate. Don’t talk to police until you have your lawyer present.
• Don’t help the police do their job—Don’t mistakenly believe that you can clear everything up, if the police will just listen to you. In almost every situation, you will end up making things worse. Your lawyer is trained to protect your rights, and won’t inadvertently make statements that tend to incriminate you.
At Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP, all prospective clients are entitled to a free initial consultation. Contact us by e-mail or call us at 717-233-5292 to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys. We speak Spanish and understand the impact a criminal charge can have on your efforts to become or remain a permanent citizen.