What to Expect If You’re Charged with a DUI
If you have recently been arrested and charged for DUI in Pennsylvania, you may be asking the question, “what can I expect to happen next?” In order to answer this question, let’s briefly review the first few steps of a typical Pennsylvania DUI case. An experienced DUI lawyer can provide you with even greater detail on what to expect moving forward.
Facing a DUI charge can be daunting, especially if you feel your case may be difficult to defend. However, our attorneys at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys review the evidence and construct a defense designed to minimize, or if possible, eliminate the consequences intended by the prosecution.
To arrange a free, confidential case evaluation, call us today at (412) 281-2146.
DUI Charges and Paperwork
Many first-time DUI offenders are not aware that if they are released by the police after being arrested for DUI, they are not necessarily off the hook for being charged with the crime. The police may have you at the station but not provide you with any paperwork, hearing dates, or subject you to any jail time after your arrest.
The police do not have to immediately charge you with DUI. Instead of receiving your charges and an Affidavit of Probable Cause by the arresting officer, it is common to have your complaint and summons mailed to you some days later. A skilled DUI lawyer can help you understand any and all aspects of the complaint and summons you receive.
Technically, there is a two-year statute of limitations for DUI cases in Pennsylvania. The police may wait to formally charge you for up to two years. However, if you are let go following your DUI arrest without a preliminary arraignment, the law requires that a criminal complaint be filed against you within five days of your release. If the breath test you submitted to yields definitive incriminating results of DUI, the police may be quick to file the charges against you. However, when a blood test is taken in your case, it may take a longer period of time for the results to come back. With other sufficient evidence, however, the police may file a complaint even before the lab results are received.
When the Complaint and Affidavit of Probable Cause are ready, the prosecuting officer will file charges against you in District Court. The judge will mail the charges with a Summons to Appear for a Preliminary Hearing. This Summons will provide you with the date, time, and location of your required appearance. An experienced DUI lawyer can provide you with legal counsel regarding the process leading up to your hearing.
If you have not already been fingerprinted and photographed, you will likely receive a Fingerprint Order in the paperwork. You will be required to appear at a Central Processing Facility or a police department at a certain time to complete this requirement.
The Preliminary Hearing
If this is your first DUI, or first criminal charge of any nature, it’s important to understand that the preliminary hearing is simply for the purpose of determining whether there is enough evidence to proceed to trial. It is not a hearing that decides your guilt or innocence. In many DUI cases, the individual may be released from custody without a preliminary arraignment. Therefore, your first time in court may be at this preliminary hearing.
It is important to have a skilled DUI lawyer representing you at this hearing. This hearing protects your right against unlawful arrest. The judge will determine if there is a “prima facie” case for DUI. The burden of proof is low to have the case move forward – the evidence must simply indicate that you were probably driving under the influence.
Contact an Experienced Pittsburgh DUI Attorney
If the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has charged you with a drunk driving offense, the attorneys at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys can use their experience and resources to defend you vigorously against the charges and work toward the best possible outcome on your behalf.