5 Things That Can Make a Pittsburgh DUI Worse
A DUI can make your life very difficult. It may be weeks or even months until you can drive again, and you may be facing large fines and even jail time. The defense attorneys at our law firm have taken many Pittsburgh DUI cases to court. We know that it’s very important to have a DUI charge reduced or even completely dropped if possible. Unfortunately, certain factors in your case can make things much worse. Often referred to as aggravating factors, these things make your offense more serious in the eyes of the law. While these factors may make your punishment more severe, these serious charges do not make it impossible to win your case. As defense attorneys with years of experience, we understand how important it is to clear your name and move forward with your life.
Do not hesitate to contact Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC if you have been arrested for DUI in the Pittsburgh area. We can help you through every part of the legal process that is necessary to bring about a successful conclusion to your case. Call our office today at (412) 281-2146 or fill out our online contact form.
1. High Blood Alcohol Content DUIs
Pennsylvania’s legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit is .08%. However, your arrest can become much more serious if you are found to have had an especially high BAC while you were driving. These enhanced punishments are for those who are considered to be especially reckless and get very drunk before operating a motor vehicle. Higher rate BAC DUIs are defined as follows:
- BAC between .10% and .16% – Enhanced punishments can include up to six months in jail, $5,000 in fines, and license suspension for up to 12 months.
- BAC over .16% – The highest rate DUIs can have a minimum of 72 hours in jail which can be extended up to six months. Fines start at $1,000 but can go up to $5,000.
2. Having Previous DUIs
State law seeks to severely punish repeat offenders, and prosecutors have a great advantage if your DUI arrest was preceded by a previous conviction. Pennsylvania has a 10 year look-back period for DUIs. Your punishment will be more serious if your previous offense was within 10 years prior to your current arrest. Second DUI arrests have a minimum of five days mandatory jail, and there is a minimum of 10 days for a third offense. A third offense with BAC over .16% can qualify as a felony, and the punishment can be a minimum of one year in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. Drivers with previous DUIs can have their license suspended for up to 18 months, and some cases result in the loss of a driver’s license for years or life.
3. Someone Else is Injured
Many people are injured and even killed in drunk driving incidents in Pennsylvania every year. Your punishment can be much more severe if someone else is hurt due to your actions while you were driving under the influence of alcohol. The prosecutor will work to demonstrate how you hold responsibility for the harm done to others. They know that the court is willing to hand down a harsh punishment if they prove a felony DUI charge that entails you harming someone else. Your defense attorney can fight this felony DUI charge by challenging both things the prosecutor must prove:
- You were intoxicated while driving: First, it must be shown that you were driving with a BAC of over .08%. Your lawyer can show that the police stop which resulted in your arrest was done improperly.
- Your actions directly caused harm to the other person: You can only be convicted if it is shown beyond a reasonable doubt that you acted with purposefulness, or extreme negligence, and directly caused injury to another.
4. A Child Was in Your Car With You
Your DUI arrest can result in very serious charges if you have a minor traveling in your car. Pennsylvania law holds that an arrest for DUI can be a first degree misdemeanor if the offender was driving a passenger under the age of 18 years. This is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. These increased punishments can be handed down to you even if nobody was injured in your DUI incident and arrest.
Pennsylvania’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program allows DUI offenders to have their convictions expunged if they successfully complete a substance abuse rehabilitation program. This process must be done completely under the supervision of the court. However, it is not available to anyone who is arrested for DUI while also driving a minor under the age of 14 years in their vehicle. In this circumstance your lawyer will have one less option as they work with the prosecutor to have your charges lowered or completely dropped.
5. You Have a Commercial Driver’s License
It’s important for those who hold a CDL to understand that their license is in jeopardy even if they are arrested for DUI in their personal vehicle and not their work truck. While the normal BAC limit is .08%, it’s lowered to .04% for a CDL driver while in their commercial vehicle. This makes it much easier for the prosecution to pursue enhanced punishments after you are found guilty of DUI. Additionally, you can be facing a suspended license for one year upon DUI conviction. CDL holders must contact a skilled DUI defense attorney as soon as possible after arrest. We know how important your license is to your livelihood, and you cannot make any delays in hiring an experienced legal counsel.
Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys LLC Can Help You
Every DUI arrest is unique. The charges you face can disrupt every aspect of your life. Depending on the circumstances of your case, Pennsylvania laws may allow for the prosecution to seek enhanced punishment after you are found to be guilty. Your lawyer must be experienced in DUI law in order to properly defend you against one or several serious charges that are filed against you. Given the severity of the case against you, it’s important that you seek legal counsel as soon as possible after a DUI arrest.
Contact Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC to speak with a knowledgeable Pittsburgh DUI lawyer. Do not hesitate to call us today at (412) 281-2146 or fill out our online contact form.