Student and Underage Crimes Archives | Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC
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How to Get Underage DUIs Expunged in Pittsburgh

Drivers under 21 account for 12% of DUI-related deaths in Pennsylvania. This is disturbing given that this group accounts for less than 10% of PA drivers. Because of this, drinking restrictions and penalties are harsh for underage drivers.

In Pennsylvania, the legal limit for those over 21 is .08% BAC. Underage drivers, however, are not permitted to have any alcohol in their system while behind the wheel.

In other words, there is zero-tolerance for underage DUI in PA.

If you or a loved one has been charged with an underage DUI, you are likely worried and have questions, like “will I be able to keep my driver’s license,” and “can an underage DUI be expunged?”

The Pittsburgh underage DUI lawyers of Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC have years of experience fighting these charges and can provide real answers.

Contact us today at (412) 281-2146 to learn how we can help.

Zero-Tolerance for Underage DUI in PA

When drivers under 21 find themselves charged driving under the influence, they face several penalties for their first DUI.

DUI consequences are broken into:

  • Jail time
  • Fines
  • Driver’s license suspension

If you are convicted and your BAC was above .10%, first-time offenders face up to 90 days in jail, fines reaching $500, and a one-year license suspension. For repeat offenders, the penalties increase drastically, often leading to years of license suspension and months spent in jail.

Other Consequences for an Underage DUI

Being convicted of an underage DUI also has harsh collateral consequences.

Many colleges and universities have codes concerning alcohol that students must follow. The University of Pennsylvania, for example, has a strict alcohol and drug policy. Students caught drinking while underage will quite likely be served a suspension or expulsion.

Student financial aid may be affected as well. While the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) states that government aid will not be affected by alcohol-related offenses, scholarships fall into a different category. If a private foundation finds out there is a DUI on your record, your scholarship may not be renewed for the subsequent term.

Can Your Underage DUI be Expunged?

In general, Pennsylvania only expunges DUIs for those who are over 70 or deceased. However, underage drivers are the lucky exception. Per 18 Pennsylvania Code Section 9122, an underage driver can petition to have a DUI expunged from their record if they have met all the conditions of their underage DUI sentence. This may include paying fines, substance abuse classes, and completing a driver’s license suspension.

The grace provided by this provision is astounding. There is no waiting period. There is only the requirement that the conditions of their DUI sentence be satisfied.

Why Get an Underage DUI Expunged

In terms of taking action, the importance of DUI expungement cannot be overstated. This is especially true for students who are attending college or who will soon be attending college. Your chance of being admitted to or remaining in school will be much higher if you do not have a criminal record.

How a Pittsburgh DUI Lawyer can Help

If you are facing an underage DUI in the area, an experienced Pittsburgh underage DUI lawyer from Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC can be instrumental in getting your charges reduced or dismissed.

First-time DUI offenders, for example, may be able to completely avoid conviction. It may also be possible to prove that your rights were violated during your arrest, in which case your entire case can be thrown out.

If you have been convinced of an underage DUI, and have completed the terms of your punishment, an attorney can also help you move on by pursuing an expungement. We will evaluate your eligibility, complete the format, and guide you in how to clear your record.

Dealing with a DUI is an emotional experience, especially for underage offenders. Let us take care of your defense.

Contact us today at (412) 281-2146 to schedule a free, initial case consultation.

Juvenile Sex Crimes: What to Do If Your Child Is Accused

If your child was accused of a sex crime, you may have many concerns, such as, will they be charged as an adult, will your child be required to register as a sex offender, will your child be facing time spent incarcerated? Juvenile sex cases can be emotionally charged, especially when the family knows the alleged victim.

Speak to an attorney right away if your child has been accused of a sex crime, because the initial stages of a police investigation are often the most crucial. Call our experienced defense lawyers at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC at (412) 281-2146 to learn about how we defend juvenile sex crimes.

Know Your Rights

Finding out your loved one has been accused of a sex offense can be scary. If your child was accused of a sex crime, you probably have many thoughts running through your head—whether they may be facing a charge that could follow them into adulthood. Police may have asked if they will appear at the police station for an interview. Speak to a lawyer before you agree to an interview about the best course of action in your case.

If your child is arrested and booked into a juvenile detention center, you must be promptly notified. The child can be held for up to 72 hours and during that time there must be a hearing regarding whether or not there is probable cause a crime was committed and whether it is safe for the juvenile to be released into the community or into the care of parent or guardian. Special conditions may be imposed by the hearing officer such as a curfew or electronic monitoring.

Juvenile Transfer Hearings

If your child is accused of a particularly serious offense such as rape, the case may be transferred to adult court. Juvenile transfer hearings are based on several factors such as:

  • The age of the defendant at the time the offense was committed
  • Whether or not the offense was of a violent nature, such as if weapons were used
  • The offender’s mental and emotional status at the time the offense was committed
  • The offender’s mental capacity to understand the nature of the offense and the proceedings against them
  • Whether there is treatment available through the juvenile court system that could prevent the commission of similar offenses

Keeping a case in juvenile court can help prevent your child from having to serve a lengthy prison sentence with adult offenders. A juvenile transfer hearing occurs in the pre-trial stage after the probable cause hearing and before a trial to determine guilt or innocence.

Understand Potential Penalties

If your child was charged as a juvenile, the potential penalties he or she may be facing are less than what they might face in the adult court system. Juvenile courts focus more on treatment than on punishment, but your child may still be facing time spent incarcerated, fines, and community service. If charged as an adult for a serious very offense such as rape, your child may be facing a term of years in a state correctional facility.

Conviction for a sex offense also carries a requirement to register as a sex offender. If placed on the registry, a sex offender must notify their local law enforcement agency any time they change their employment, contact information, or address.

If Your Child is a Student

If your child was a student at the time the juvenile sex crime allegedly occurred, the allegation could affect their standing in the institution, even if they are not proven guilty of the offense. If the alleged victim is a student at the same school, your child may be ordered not to attend the same classes or events and to stay a certain distance away from the student who has accused them.

Have an attorney present at every stage of the proceeding. Your child may be asked to participate in an administrative hearing that can result in expulsion from the school if the hearing examiner finds victim testimony credible. An attorney may be able to negotiate for an alternative solution, such as voluntary withdrawal for a semester or a year pending the outcome of the criminal case, since an expulsion for sexual misconduct can look worse on a student’s record than voluntary withdrawal.

Consult an Experienced Defense Attorney

Our defense lawyers at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC are ready to help if your child has been accused of a sex crime. It is important to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible, because law enforcement may encourage you to give up important rights to try to build a case against your child, even if they are innocent. We may be able to find problems with the state’s case that could lead to a dismissal, a not guilty verdict, or a reduction of the charges. Contact us online or call (412) 281-2146 to schedule a consultation.

What to Expect If Your Underage Child Has Been Charged with a DUI

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, alcohol is a factor in more than one third of fatal crashes involving 16 to 20 year olds. In an effort to reduce this heavy toll, Pennsylvania has instituted a zero tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. This means that there are strict criminal penalties for anyone under the age of 21 caught while driving under the influence of alcohol. For adults, the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) is set at .08. For people under the age of 21, however, the legal BAC limit is .02. Even one beer can put an underage person over the legal limit.

An underage DUI is often a young person’s first contact with the criminal justice system. Getting pulled over, arrested, and thrown into jail can be a humiliating and traumatizing experience. Fortunately, an experienced Pittsburgh DUI lawyer may be able to intervene so it doesn’t get any worse from there. A careful review of the case may show potential ways of avoiding criminal liability and the long lasting collateral consequences of an underage DUI conviction. For a free consultation about the defense of your case, call Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC today at (412) 281-2146 or use our online contact form.

You Need to Make a Stand During the Early Stages of your Underage DUI Case

Our experience shows that the most effective strategy for obtaining a positive case outcome in an underage DUI case is to advocate fiercely on our clients’ behalf during the early stages of the criminal justice process. When our clients call us soon after their arrest, we are able to counsel them against making any statements to the police–which often prove fatal to the defense’s case.

Next, we review the police report and seek to cross-examine the arresting officer to determine the exact circumstances and timeline of the DUI arrest. This is important because if the police abuse their authority, violate your rights, or make any procedural missteps, you may be in a position to request the dismissal of the charges against you.

Common examples of police misconduct in DUI cases include:

  • Pulling you over without an articulable suspicion
  • Making an arrest without probable cause
  • Searching your vehicle without a lawful justification
  • Mishandling your blood or urine sample
  • Using a breathalyzer that is poorly maintained or improperly calibrated

When any of the above happens to you, your lawyer may request that evidence be removed from the prosecutor’s case. If this motion to suppress the evidence is successful, the prosecutor may not have enough evidence to use at the trial, which often gives us the ability to ask the judge to dismiss the whole case.

ARD for Young Offenders

If this strategy is not an option, we can still obtain a positive case outcome by negotiating with the prosecutor before your trial starts. With a young client who is more often than not a first offender, we are often able to convince the prosecutor to move the case into Alternative Rehabilitative Disposition, or ARD. Instead of being formally convicted of the crime, the judge will order you to perform community service and get substance abuse counseling. If you successfully pass through the probationary period, the charges will be dismissed and you can eventually request the expungement of your record.

What Are the Consequences of an Underage DUI Conviction?

You need to act fast and get the help of a good drunk driving lawyer because a conviction for underage DUI involves harsh penalties, including a two day to six-month jail sentence, a year to year and a half license suspension, and fines ranging from $500 to $5,000. In addition to these criminal penalties, you will also need to deal with the collateral consequences of a conviction, which include:

  • Court costs
  • Towing and impounding fees
  • License restoration fees
  • Increased insurance premiums
  • Disciplinary action from school
  • Possible career roadblocks

Our Underage DUI Attorneys Can Help You

All things considered, an underage DUI may cost thousands of dollars and severely jeopardize your child’s educational and career opportunities. With so much at risk, it’s worthwhile to invest in good legal representation. At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC we have a proven track record of achieving positive case results in DUI cases–especially when our clients come to us early on in the criminal justice process. Call us today at (412) 281-2146 or use our online contact form for a free consultation of your case.

New Law Makes Hazing a Felony in PA

In response to the death of a Penn State freshman, Pennsylvania has enacted a new anti-hazing law. Known as the “Timothy Piazza Anti-Hazing Law,” the new legislation raises the classification of fraternity hazing to a felony. Named for the student who died as a result of hazing in February 2017, the law increases the maximum penalty for fraternity hazing to seven years in prison. It also gives law enforcement officials additional rights when it comes to investigating houses where hazing offenses have occurred. Parents of other hazing victims have expressed approval of the new law, believing that it may save some students’ lives.

The increase in potential penalties for certain offenses makes having a good defense attorney all the more important. For criminal defense in the Pittsburgh area, your best bet is to contact Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC . Our lawyers have the legal experience necessary to defend you and your rights. We will work as a team with you to ensure that your case proceeds as smoothly as possible. A free case evaluation is a good way to determine if we can help you. Schedule yours by calling (412) 281-2146, or filling out the online contact form today.

New Law Places Pennsylvania Hazing Policy Among the Strictest

Previously, Florida was thought to have the strictest hazing legislation, among the states that have such policies. Under Florida law, hazing is also a felony. Pennsylvania’s new hazing legislation may be even stricter than Florida’s, however. This is due to some of the law’s language relating to houses where hazing takes place. In Pennsylvania, authorities will now be able to seize houses that are the subjects of hazing investigations. This places Pennsylvania’s hazing restrictions, and it’s enforcement of those restrictions, among the most severe.

Hazing Penalties Increased in Response to College Freshman’s Death

Timothy Piazza was 19 years old when he was participating in hazing activities at Penn State University. At the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house, Piazza drunkenly fell several times, including twice down a flight of stairs. He eventually passed away from head and spleen injuries he suffered during those falls.

The lack of prompt medical attention played a role in Timothy’s death. According to authorities, fraternity brothers waited several hours to call for medical help. Fear could be a factor in this; the students let fear of possible legal trouble keep them from calling for help. To address this, the new law includes a “safe haven clause.” The clause protects fraternity members from being prosecuted if they call the police or emergency responders.

Some See Potential Issues With New Hazing Law

While many see the benefits in the new hazing legislation, there are those who think it is insufficient. The new statute requires prosecutors to prove that victims were forced or coerced into participating in hazing activities. There are those who feel that this will limit prosecutors in their abilities to being charges in less serious hazing cases. Concern has also been expressed that the law was crafted to quickly. While it is certainly a crack down on specific cases like Timothy’s, there is some belief that it’s scope is too narrow to affect real change.

Discuss Your Charges With an Experienced Attorney Today

If your facing criminal charges, the most important choice you’ll make is hiring a defense lawyer. Contact Worgul, Sarna & Ness Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC if you need help preparing a criminal defense in the Pittsburgh area. Our lawyers are knowledgeable, and understand what it takes to put together a winning defense. We know which details are important, and what makes it possible to reduce or drop charges. Decide if you want us on your team today; reach out through the online contact form or call (412) 281-2146 to schedule your free case evaluation.

What Happens When the Police Break Up a Party?

House parties are common this time of the year with kids out of school and many college students back at their parents’ for the summer. Social media makes it easy for teens to find out about these events and small gatherings can quickly turn into huge, out-of-control parties. Often times the police get noise complaints from neighbors and end up coming to the house to break-up the party. There can be serious consequences if police find out that people under the age of 21 are drinking.

What Do Police Do When They Bust a Party?

Here’s what police do when they bust a party. Police will come to the door and ask to talk to the owner about complaints about a party, you have the right to decline their entry without a warrant. However, if they have reasonable cause to suspect that illegal activities are happening, they may be able to enter without a warrant. Generally, if there are drunk teenagers outside, they have enough cause. Remember to be respectful when speaking to the police.

Once police have entered a house to actually break up an underage party, they will check IDs and arrest people drinking underage or using/possessing drugs. The owner of the house often will be questioned and may be held responsible for any illegal activities. Even if the party was held without the owner’s knowledge, they may be held liable.

Many people will be tempted to flee a party being busted by police, but if you are caught, penalties for any illegal activity will be worse, because you will have evaded police custody. You are never required to speak to police without a lawyer present, but running from the police will only make things worse. Just remain silent, and only provide basic information such as your name and address, then wait to be dismissed or taken into custody.

What Are the Consequences of Throwing a House Party?

Here’s the consequences of throwing a house party. The most obvious consequences for a house party if it’s an underage party will be any individual arrests for underage drinking or illegal drug use. However, there are many other penalties that most partiers don’t consider.

Parents or legal drinkers who are caught supplying alcohol, even inadvertently, to minors face serious criminal liabilities. It is illegal to give alcohol to underage people and minors. Even simply allowing them to enter a private party where alcohol is consumed can make parents responsible if they don’t have measures in place to prevent underage attendees from accessing alcohol.

Even if the owner of the house was unaware that their child was throwing a party and drinking alcohol, they can be held responsible for not preventing illegal activity. In some states, parents are subject to serious financial consequences, including fines and restitution to victims in the event that illegal activities at the party lead to accidents. Furthermore, they can be charged in the criminal courts for contributing to the delinquency of a minor or other similar charges.

Another important thing to remember is that “borrowing” an empty or abandoned building for a big party is illegal and may lead to trespassing charges. Also, felony charges including burglary may be filed if anything is taken or damaged during the party.

What Happens if a Party Gets Busted But You’re Not drinking

Here’s what happens if a party gets busted but you’re not drinking. It really depends on the particular police that come into contact with you on that night. Unfortunately, they do not have to give you a breathalyzer test but they can still file charges if they just suspect that you have been drinking. But the main thing to remember is that if you haven’t been drinking than you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Be confident, and proud of the fact that you took the responsibility to make a decision to be sober.

With teenagers constantly checking social media, it is never safe to assume that an illegal party will stay a secret. If you or your child are charged with a crime in relation to an underage party you should hire an attorney immediately. Contact Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyers Mike Worgul and Samir Sarna at (412) 281-2146 any time to discuss your specific situation further.

How to Handle an Underage DUI in PA

Pennsylvania DUI laws can be very strict. If you or a loved one are arrested and charged with underage DUI, these laws can place you in jail and require you to pay large fines. Even first DUI offenses can cause a legal nightmare for an underage offender. It can be overwhelming if you or an underage loved one are arrested and placed in jail while facing a DUI charge. In order to protect your future after an underage DUI arrest, you need an experienced defense attorney to help you during this time.

With an extensive understanding of Pennsylvania law, the attorneys at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC understand the DUI process and how it can affect the lives of those charged with underage offenses. To speak with an experienced student and underage crimes attorney about your case, contact our office as soon as possible at (412) 281-2146.

What To Do If You Are Arrested For Underage DUI

If you are ever arrested for anything, it’s important to be cooperative with the officers. After your arrest, it is important to seek out a skilled lawyer to help clear your name and move on with your life. It is advisable to write down everything that you can remember about the incident that resulted in your arrest. Even the smallest detail could help your lawyer.

Pennsylvania’s implied consent law regarding drivers means that by driving on the road, you agree to take a blood alcohol content (BAC) breath or chemical test when requested by law enforcement. While this does not mean that police can physically force you to take such a test, it does mean that you will be facing an automatic one-year suspension of your driver’s license if you refuse. Submitting to a test is advisable, and your attorney can seek to remove any test results that may be tainted or inappropriately gathered.

Punishment For Underage DUI In Pennsylvania

In order to crack down on incidences of underage DUI, officials have been known to seek license suspensions for up to one year in addition to large fines for individuals charged with this crime. A person who is under 21 years of age is considered to be intoxicated when driving with a BAC of .02 percent or higher, which is substantially lower than the BAC limit of .08 percent for those 21 years of age and older.

For a first time underage DUI offense, you could be facing the following:

  • A suspended license for up to 12 months
  • Up to 90 days in jail
  • Fines reaching up to $5,000
  • Completing an alcohol highway safety course
  • Drug treatment or community service

If you have previously been found guilty of an underage DUI, a second or third offense could result in significant punishment. For a second underage DUI offense, you face up to six months in jail and fines of up to $2,500. For a third offense, you risk a minimum sentence of one year in jail, and fines reaching up to $10,000.

While insurance providers tend to vary on handling clients with DUIs, monthly premiums have been known to go up for those who are in this situation.

Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC Can Help You

An underage DUI can be very intimidating and overwhelming for everyone involved. These cases are taken very seriously by law enforcement and prosecutors, and being found guilty of an underage DUI can result in large fines and a long suspension of your driver’s license. Additionally, DUI convictions can show up on a background check, making getting a job or into school more difficult. To clear your name of an underage DUI charge and to protect your future, you need an experienced Pittsburgh DUI lawyer from working for you.

Contact Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC to speak with an experienced Pittsburgh DUI attorney about your case and how we can help. Call us today at (412) 281-2146, or contact us online.

Can An Underage DUI Affect Financial Aid?

For those under the age of 21, being convicted of a DUI can have dire consequences. While jail time is not typically assigned for an underage DUI, the criminal penalties are still serious. They often include being placed in a community service program and a license suspension of 90 days. For repeat offenders, the suspension period can span years. Being convicted of an underage DUI also comes with collateral consequences. For college students, suspension or expulsion is possible, and certain forms of financial aid may become unavailable.

If you or a loved one is dealing with an underage DUI charge, you are likely worried about how your life will be affected. Contact Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC at (412) 281-2146 to see how we can help during this stressful time. Our Pittsburgh underage DUI lawyers have years of experience in fighting these charges. We will use the best possible defense to tell your side of the story and get your charges dropped or reduced, if possible.

Is Financial Aid Really Affected?

According to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), offenses related to alcohol will not affect your eligibility for financial assistance. Only offenses related to controlled substances, such as marijuana and heroin, will disqualify you from receiving federal student aid. While funds provided by the government are not affected by an underage DUI conviction, scholarships are a different story. Scholarships are typically provided by private organizations, meaning they can be withdrawn for any reason. If a scholarship provider catches wind that you were convicted of an underage DUI, it is very likely that you will be disqualified as a recipient for subsequent terms.

Other Academic Consequences

The revocation of your financial aid may not be an issue if you don’t have anything to spend it on. Many colleges have student codes that all students are expected to follow. In fact, the University of Pennsylvania has an alcohol and drug policy that outlines the acceptable conduct. In the section covering alcohol, it specifically states that underage drinking is forbidden and violating this rule will have severe consequences. In many instances, violating a school’s alcohol policy can lead to an expulsion.

While many believe that their college will not find out about their conviction, most schools are notified when one of their students has committed a crime. If the crime is not reported through an official department, it is likely that the school will hear about it through word of mouth. A friend talking to a school official or a story in the local paper is all that is needed to turn your world upside-down.

Contact Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC Today

It is essential to get the help of a Pittsburgh underage DUI lawyer so that you can avoid the horrible consequences of conviction. The best way to avoid these penalties is to fight in court so that your charges are dismissed entirely. Whether you need help for yourself or a loved one, Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys will stand by you every step of the way. Do not be taken advantage of in the court of law.

Contact us today at (412) 281-2146 or online to see how we can fight for your freedom.

Tailgating & Underage DUI

Being convicted of a DUI is very serious, especially if you are under the age of 21. If you have been charged with an underage DUI, you may be worried about the consequences that a conviction could bring. Depending on the number of past offenses, penalties can be as severe as paying hefty fines and having your license suspended for a number of years.

If you or a loved one has been charged with driving under the influence while underage, contact the Pittsburgh underage DUI lawyers at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC. We will fight tirelessly to keep you or your loved one from being convicted, if possible.

College events can be a terrible opportunity for those who are underage to get alcohol. This is especially true of football games and other sporting events. Football games, in particular, allow students to tailgate in designated parking lots before games. Underage students attending these events may arrive at a tailgate party, drink alcohol, and then be charged with a DUI on the drive home. Unfortunately, many schools are making this easier by creating loose policies regarding college tailgating.

Changes in Tailgating and Underage Drinking Policy

Pittsburgh State University has recently faced a tremendous amount of criticism from its sports fans. In the middle of the 2015 football season, university officials changed a number of tailgating policies. This led to outrage among students, and as a result, the school has changed the policies for the upcoming 2016-2017 season. One change, for example, is that there will be no restriction on alcohol consumption in the hours leading up to a game. Additionally, a variety of containers can now be used to bring in alcohol and using truck beds for tailgating is now permitted.

Officials at Pittsburgh State University insist that the new rules promote and emphasize personal responsibility, but they are far more likely to wreak havoc. For example, if a group of students, all under the age of 21, attend a tailgate party, they will be far more likely to drink underage if the restrictions are loose. Drinking will inevitably lead to becoming intoxicated, and these students may attempt to drive home. From there, they will have a very high chance of being pulled over and arrested on DUI charges.

The Consequences of an Underage DUI Conviction

Someone under the age of 21 who is convicted of a DUI is not likely to spend time in jail, but there are still severe consequences. For a first time DUI offense, an underage driver is likely to be placed into a community service program for a certain number of hours. The driver will also have their license suspended for a period of 90 days. Although completing a community service program may prevent you from having a criminal conviction, your record will still show a citation.

For any subsequent offenses, the penalties become harsher. For a second or third offense, your license will be suspended for 1 year or 2 years, respectively. You will also need to pay a fine of up to $500 dollars. This time, there is no option of completing community service in exchange for not having a criminal conviction on your record.

Let Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC Help Protect You

At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC, we understand that dealing with an underage DUI can be an emotional and frightening process. After all, losing your license can affect every aspect of your life. You can rest assured knowing that we will stand with you every step of the way and protect your rights. Our experienced Pittsburgh underage DUI lawyers can work with the court to get a DUI citation expunged from your record. We may also be able to eliminate the 90-day license suspension period for first-time offenders.

Call us now at (412) 281-2146 or contact us online to see how we can help.

What Happens if Police Arrest Me for a DUI and I Am Under 21?

While teenage and college years are frequently a time of social and recreational exploration, sometimes involving drugs, alcohol, and motor vehicles, these years can lead to devastating consequences when underage drinking and driving occur together.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s 2014 statistics on Pennsylvania crashes, drinking drivers under the age of 21 accounted for more than 650 crashes in 2014 alone. As the state recognizes that reducing incidents of drinking and driving is an essential step toward reducing overall fatalities, special attention is made to identify drinking drivers who might be underage—and to prevent them from endangering their own lives and the lives of others.

Pennsylvania DUI Laws

In Pennsylvania, it is illegal for a person under the age of 21 to consume alcohol—without exception. Pennsylvania’s underage drinking laws carry through to all sorts of activities, including driving under the influence, an offense involving minors who have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .02 or greater while operating a motor vehicle. If you’ve been pulled over for a DUI and are under the age of 21, you could be charged with an underage DUI.

What Are the Consequences of an Underage DUI in Pennsylvania?

Penalties for underage DUIs are severe and can result in incarceration time, hundreds of dollars in fines, and license suspension. If you’ve pulled over and arrested for an underage DUI, you could face:

  • Jail time — for a first underage DUI, incarceration can be up to 90 days; for a second underage DUI, incarceration can be between 5 days and 6 months
  • Hefty fines — fines start at $300 for a first underage DUI and can rise to as much as $2,500 for a second offense
  • License suspension — if your BAC is above .10 on a first offense, you could face 12 months license suspension; if charged with a second underage DUI, you could face 1-year suspension
  • A criminal record — if you’re charged with an underage DUI and convicted, you’ll have a record of criminal conduct which could affect future job prospects, employment opportunities, and rental applications
  • Academic consequences — many schools have internal regulations focused on students’ underage drinking; an underage DUI conviction could land you in academic or institutional trouble

How Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC Can Help You

If you’ve been stopped and arrested for a DUI and were underage at the time of your arrest, you may be feeling scared, angry, or confused. To help you understand the charges being brought against you and to take the first steps toward defending your case, contact an experienced Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyer today.

At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC, we have helped numerous individuals under the age of 21 to fight their underage drinking case. We are familiar with Pennsylvania underage drinking laws and can build you a strategic defense that’s based on proving that you weren’t drinking, that you weren’t driving, or that a police officer didn’t have probable cause to stop you. To speak with one of our skilled Pittsburgh DUI attorneys today, call us at (412) 281-2146.

What is a DUI Hotel?

Many people facing a first-time DUI in Pennsylvania think they’ll be heading to jail as part of their sentence. In fact, many Pennsylvanians do face incarceration times for their DUI offense and take on hefty fines, ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars, to boot. But not everyone ends up in jail. In Allegheny County, a special program has been created to keep people out of jail, known as the DUI Alternative Jail Program.

Under the DUI Alternative Jail Program, first-time DUI offenders are placed in special hotels—known as “DUI hotels”—where they take part in treatment programs. Given the relative comfort of a hotel compared with a jail cell, and given that the DUI Alternative Jail Program takes only a weekend to complete, Pittsburgh DUI hotels have grown in popularity amongst those facing first-time DUI convictions.

DUI Hotels—A Second Choice for DUI Offenders

In Allegheny County, first-time DUI offenders have a new way of fulfilling their DUI sentences. Now, first-time DUI offenders can serve mandatory jail terms in hotels. By completing a three-day treatment program through the DUI Alternative Jail Program, offenders can take part in evaluations, drug and alcohol education, and treatment sessions in a hotel setting over a single weekend, rather than over the course of weeks from inside a jail.

The DUI hotel is designed to serve as an alternative to jail time, which can cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. Besides pointing to the money-saving benefits of the program, proponents of DUI hotels argue that most first-time DUI offenders don’t belong behind bars; rather, they can undergo treatment in an alternate facility.

Who Qualifies for a DUI Hotel?

One of the most controversial aspects of the DUI hotel is its cost. Hotel participants who can’t afford the program cost—staring at $500—still end up facing jail time, often in less comfortable facilities. Furthermore, their treatment program is extended over weeks, rather than over a single weekend. Opponents of the DUI hotel program say that by privileging those who can pay, the program doesn’t treat all DUI offenders equally.

Not everyone can take part in a DUI hotel. In order to be eligible for a DUI hotel, offenders must be ineligible for Pennsylvania’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program and be facing a first-time DUI, punishable by up to a 72-hour jail sentence. While Allegheny County is the first county in Pennsylvania to offer a DUI hotel as an alternative to jail time, additional counties in Pennsylvania, including Westmoreland County, are considering adopting such programs in the near future.

How Our Skilled Pittsburgh DUI Lawyers Can Help You

Need help defending yourself against a Pennsylvania DUI charge? If you’re facing DUI charges and want to know whether you’re eligible for participation in the DUI Alternative Jail Program, contact one of the experienced Pittsburgh DUI lawyers at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC today. We can help you determine whether you qualify to stay at a DUI hotel and can evaluate your case to determine whether a DUI hotel might be the best option for you. For a free, initial consultation, call one of our skilled Pittsburgh DUI lawyers at (412) 281-2146 today.

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