DUI Defense

Powerful Advocates In Drunk Driving Defense Cases

If you are charged with a DUI, you may be facing serious penalties, including license suspension. You need to contact a DUI criminal defense lawyer who is experienced in handling cases just like your own.

Attorney Doug Marsico has extensive experience in handling DUI cases for clients in the greater Harrisburg area including Cumberland, Dauphin, Perry and York Counties. He and our legal team can examine the reasons why you were stopped, determine if any procedural errors occurred and aggressively challenge any evidence in your case. To schedule an appointment to discuss your options, call 717-232-7661 or contact us online.

Challenging Your DUI Charges

If you were arrested for DUI, you need an attorney who fully understands the law and your rights in this specialized area. We will explore all of the options in your case to build a solid defense on your behalf, including:

  • Analyzing the traffic stop — We diligently examine the reasons you were stopped for and identify procedural errors that may render the traffic stop and your DUI arrest invalid.
  • Analyzing evidence — We aggressively challenge the evidence in your case, including breath tests, field sobriety tests, blood tests and arrest and booking videos.
  • Minimizing DUI penalties — We fight to minimize the penalties of a DUI conviction, including license suspension.
  • First-time offenders — We help first-time offenders avoid criminal convictions, imprisonment and lengthy license suspensions by taking advantage of Pennsylvania’s first time offender’s program known as ARD.
  • Repeat offenders — We can help repeat offenders obtain house arrest or work release to minimize the negative consequences on their lives, jobs and families.

For answers to commonly asked questions about Pennsylvania’s driving under the influence laws, please see our FAQ: Pennsylvania Drunk Driving Charges page.

Has your license been suspended? Find out how we can help you resolve your driver’s licensing issues.

Contact Us

Be aware that if you were charged in Pennsylvania with DUI or with having refused breath or blood testing, the clock may be ticking to fight an automatic driver’s license suspension. Contact Caldwell & Kearns, P.C., now to get the sound legal advice and experienced representation you need.

FAQ: Pennsylvania Drunk Driving Charges

Answering Your Questions Regarding Drunk Driving Charges

The following are answers to frequently asked questions about Pennsylvania’s driving under the influence laws. For straightforward answers and sound legal advice regarding your DUI case, please call the experienced defense attorneys of Caldwell & Kearns, P.C., in Harrisburg at 717-232-7661 for a free consultation.

Pennsylvania’s Driving Under The Influence Law

Q: What is the legal limit?

A: The legal limit in Pennsylvania is .08 percent blood alcohol content (BAC).

Q: What are the penalties for a DUI?

A: The penalties for a DUI offense vary depending upon a number of factors. These include the number of prior DUI offenses, the level of the offender’s blood alcohol content and whether there was an accident with injuries or property damage in connection with the charges.

First-time offenders generally are eligible for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program (ARD), as discussed below. A first-time offender who does not elect or is ineligible for ARD will face the following penalties: If the offender’s blood alcohol level is between .08 and .099, and there is no accident with injuries or property damage, there is no suspension of driving privileges. The offender will receive a maximum of six months’ probation and a $300 fine, attend highway safety school, and drug and alcohol treatment if deemed necessary after an evaluation.

If the offender’s blood alcohol level is between .10 and .160, the offender could receive a minimum of 48 hours imprisonment, a minimum $500 fine, and a 12-month license suspension along with the highway safety school and drug and alcohol evaluation and treatment.

If the offender’s blood alcohol level is .16 or higher, the offender could receive a minimum of 72 hours of imprisonment, a minimum $1,000 fine, and a one-year license suspension in addition to the highway safety school and drug and alcohol evaluation and treatment. The penalties for this “highest tier” also applies to those convicted of a DUI who were under the influence of a controlled substance, or were intoxicated when involved in an accident that caused injury or property damage to another. If the offender was involved in an accident that caused serious bodily injury or death, the mandatory penalties are much more severe and include substantial imprisonment time.

Q: What is ARD?

A: ARD is a program for first-time offenders whereby the offender can avoid a criminal conviction, imprisonment and a lengthy license suspension. If accepted into ARD, the license suspension will only be 30 or 60 days, depending upon the offender’s blood alcohol content. In some limited circumstances, there is no license suspension (BAC below .10). The ARD program generally requires the offender to successfully complete alcohol counseling, DUI classes, community service and probation. Each county has its own rules regarding an offender’s eligibility for admittance into the ARD program. Even if you feel you are clearly eligible for ARD, an attorney is highly recommended. Some counties are very strict on the procedure and timing to request ARD. Some counties will accept into the ARD program an offender with a prior DUI if there is only one prior DUI disposition and if the prior DUI occurred more than 10 years ago. Whether prior non DUI criminal dispositions will make an offender ineligible for ARD really depends on the county’s policy and other factors. DUI offenders who are ineligible for ARD include those with a prior criminal record or prior ARD disposition within the past 10 years, or where the current DUI offense involved an accident with serious bodily injury or death.

Q: What if I refused the blood alcohol content test?

A: A refusal of a blood alcohol content test is a mandatory 12-18 month license suspension in Pennsylvania. In addition, the offender could still be prosecuted for driving under the influence of alcohol if there is sufficient evidence that the driver was incapable of safe driving. The refusal itself is evidence that will be introduced against the offender. A person who refuses a blood alcohol test and is convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol may lose his or her license for 24-30 months: up to 18 months for the refusal and a consecutive one year for the DUI conviction. You should contact an attorney immediately. The police officer’s determination that you refused the blood alcohol test can be challenged in court by filing an appeal in the Court of Common Pleas. The filing appeal must be filed within 30 days of the date of the suspension notice triggered by the refusal.

Q: If I refuse the blood alcohol content test, can I still enroll into the ARD program?

A: Yes, if you qualify and there was no accident with serious injuries. If accepted into ARD, you will lose your license for 60 days in addition to a one-year suspension for refusing the test.

If I refuse the blood alcohol content test, is there any way I can avoid the 12-18 month license suspension by pleading guilty or asking for acceptance into the ARD program?

A: Generally, no. PennDOT has an obligation to impose the license suspension for the refusal regardless of the outcome of the case. However, if you contact an attorney quickly enough after your arrest, the attorney may be able to help. It is the arresting law enforcement officer’s responsibility to notify PennDOT that you refused the blood alcohol test. If contacted prior to mailing the notification, some police officers will refrain from notifying PennDOT in exchange for your promise to plead guilty or seek admittance into the ARD program. While some police department policies prevent such agreements, in my experience, many police officers are cooperative in this regard as they recognize the fundamental unfairness of a possible double suspension.

Q: What if I am a first-time offender but not eligible for ARD?

A: The penalties are discussed above. If your blood alcohol level was .10 or above, there is a mandatory one-year license suspension. However, under a new law, you may be eligible for an Ignition Interlock Limited License (discussed below) for work or school purposes.

Q: Can I get a license to go to and from work or school during a license suspension for a DUI or refusal?

A: Yes, but only in limited cases. Effective August 25, 2017, the law makes available an “ignition interlock limited license.” An ignition interlock limited license is a restricted license that allows the driver to operate a motor vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device. Under the new law, an individual whose operating privileges are suspended for a DUI conviction or a refusal to submit to chemical testing may obtain an IILL while serving the mandatory license suspension.
For more information, you can read this article on the ignition interlock limited license.

Q: What are the penalties for repeat offenders?

A: An offender who had a prior DUI within the previous 10 years will not be eligible for the ARD program. The license suspension will range from 12 to 18 months and possible imprisonment from 30 to 90 days, depending upon the offender’s blood alcohol content level. Third or subsequent offenders could face up to one year in prison in addition to a license suspension as high as 18 months. In addition, the offender may be required to install the ignition interlock device on his or her vehicle as a condition to having his or license restored. The ignition interlock device requires the driver to provide an alcohol free breath sample into the instrument in order for the vehicle to start.

Q: If I have to go to prison, I will lose my job. What can I do? Can I get house arrest, instead of prison time?

A: If you are facing a prison term, you should be eligible for the work release program. Work release allows the offender to leave the prison/work release center as needed for employment purposes. Moreover, many counties allow the prison term to be served on house arrest with electronic monitoring. Whether your case qualifies really depends on the county where the offense occurred, and, in some counties, the particular judge whom your case is assigned to. It is important that you have an experienced attorney to assist you in obtaining house arrest and/or work release.

Q: How soon should I call a lawyer after I have been arrested for DUI?

A: You may not be officially notified whether you have been charged with a DUI until you receive a summons in the mail. This usually occurs after the arresting officer receives the lab results back on your blood sample which could be several weeks after your arrest. Nonetheless, it is best to contact a lawyer as soon as possible after your arrest, especially if you refused blood testing.

Q: What if the police officer contends that I refused a blood alcohol test when I really did not?

A: You should contact an attorney immediately. The police officer’s determination that you refused the blood alcohol test can be challenged in court by filing an appeal in the Court of Common Pleas. That appeal must be filed within 30 days of the date on the letter from PennDOT notifying you of the suspension.

Q: A police officer informed me that a blood alcohol level registered above .08. I know that cannot be right. What can I do?

A: Breath and blood tests are not always accurate. Mistakes are made. Breath and blood test results can be excluded from evidence if proper procedures were not followed in the administration of the test. Further, results can be excluded if the testing equipment was not properly tested periodically for accuracy in accordance with statewide regulations. An experienced attorney can examine these issues on your behalf.

Q: I need an attorney. What should I do?

A: You need an experienced attorney who will give you honest answers. Call Doug Marsico at the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, offices of Caldwell & Kearns, P.C., at 717-232-7661 today to set up an appointment. You can also email Doug Marsico at dmarsico@cklegal.net now for a prompt response.

Ignition Interlock Limited License Law

A Pennsylvania DUI license suspension law went into effect on August 25, 2017 which introduced a new limited license known as an “Ignition Interlock Limited License (IILL)”. An ignition interlock limited license is a restricted license that allows the driver to operate a motor vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device. Under the law, an individual whose operating privileges are suspended for a DUI conviction or a refusal to submit to chemical testing may obtain an IILL while serving the mandatory license suspension.

An individual whose license is suspended for a DUI conviction, and has no prior offenses, may immediately apply to obtain an IILL. Effective October 15, 2018, an IILL is also available for those serving ARD-imposed license suspensions. For those with a prior DUI offense, an IILL may be obtained as follows:

  • for those convicted of a ungraded misdemeanor, the IILL may be obtained after six months of the twelve month license suspension
  • for those convicted of a first degree misdemeanor, the IILL may be obtained after nine months of the eighteen month license suspension

The new law also provides relief via the IILL for those who have had their license suspended for a refusal. Under the new law, an IILL may be issued after six months of a twelve month suspension as a result of a refusal. Also, an IILL may be issued after nine months of an eighteen month suspension as a result of a refusal. This is a welcomed change, as previously the law did not provide for any type of restricted license for chemical testing refusal related suspensions.

In order to obtain an IILL, the motorist must file a petition with PennDOT showing proof of the installation of the device and proof of insurance. PennDOT is required to then issue the ignition interlock limited license within twenty days of receipt of the application. Eligibility is predicated upon the motorist having an otherwise valid license and no other unserved license suspensions. The IILL is not available for commercial vehicles or suspensions as a result of convictions for homicide by vehicle or homicide by vehicle while DUI offenses.

It is important to note that the IILL only requires installation of an ignition interlock system on any vehicle that the motorist will drive—as opposed to all vehicles owned by a motorist as mandated by previous ignition interlock legislation. Furthermore, a motorist with a valid IILL may drive an employer’s owned vehicle within the scope of his employment without the ignition interlock device. It is only required that a PennDOT form acknowledging that the employee has a restricted license is completed by the employer before a notary.