License Suspensions in DUI Plea Deals
Last year, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court handed down a decision that could permanently change DUI plea negotiations. Before, most plea deals for DUI charges considered license suspensions to be one of the more minor concerns to work out with the prosecutor. Now, the Supreme Court has made it clear that this should not be as minor of a worry as it had been treated previously.
Under Pennsylvania DUI law, your license can be suspended for a year for a DUI conviction, another for aggravated assault by vehicle while driving under the influence, and three years for homicide by vehicle while under the influence. In Bell v. Commonwealth, the Court upheld the right for the state to revoke your license for each charge you plead guilty to in the plea bargain consecutively, no matter how little time you have to serve for the charges. This means that if you hit another car while under the influence, you could end up losing your driving privileges for years for each count.
Don’t Overlook Non-Jail Time Considerations When Signing a Plea Deal
On your plea deal, each count enumerated matters, even if you do not serve time for each separately. In the case of William Bell, as demonstrated in Bell v. Commonwealth, Bell was convicted in a fatal drunk driving accident that killed the other driver on three charges: homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, DUI, and homicide by vehicle. Since a single DUI can revoke your license for a year, and each homicide charge can revoke your license for three years, his driving privileges were taken away for a total of seven years. While Bell had thought that this ruling would be overturned, the Supreme Court held that it was fair to lose his license for each count.
If Bell’s attorney had negotiated a different deal, he may have not lost his license for so long. This ruling makes it now clear that other important considerations must come into play when negotiating a final plea deal. Just because you are offered a plea with little or no jail time does not automatically make it a good option. The specific plea deal your lawyer negotiates will have a major impact on your life even beyond any jail time, so it is important to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney who will make sure to think about all the potential collateral damages that follow. If you are arrested for a DUI in the Pittsburgh area, call a Pittsburgh DUI lawyer today at (412) 281-2146 for a free consultation your case. Find out how we can help you get the most favorable outcome possible.