Law Offices of Anthony J. Hasson

 Criminal Law

Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or a Controlled Substance

      Fighting a Pennsylvania DUI case is important because of the seriousness of the penalties and potential future consequences. It will be a permanent part of your driving record and criminal history; it may never come off your record. It can have long term and lasting effects.

Sobriety Checkpoints    

       The police in Chester, Montgomery, Philadelphia, Delaware, and Berks County are increasingly relying on sobriety checkpoints or roadblocks to catch drivers suspected of DUI. There are ways to challenge the sobriety checkpoint if you were stopped and arrestedfor DUI in this manner. Call the Law Offices of Anthony J. Hasson at 484.602.5879 if you were stopped at a checkpoint.

      A case from the United States Supreme Court established many of the guidelines used in Pennsylvania that govern the operation of sobriety checkpoints. The Supreme Court said that police administering sobriety checkpoints must use a neutral mathematical formula, such as every thord vehicle, to select which drivers and vehicles to stop.The Court also established that sobriety checkpoints must ensure the safety of both drivers and police, be highly visable, and minimize the amount of time each driver is stopped at the checkpoint.

      The Supreme Court’s decision balanced the rights of individuals against society’s need to prevent drunk driving. In Pennsylvania a sobriety checkpoint must meet the following 5 criteria:

1.  Vehicle stops must be brief and must not entail a physical search.
2.  There must be sufficient warning to the existence of the checkpoint.
3.  The decision to conduct a checkpoint, as well as the decision as to time and place for the checkpoint, must be subject to prior administrative approval.
4.  The choice of time and place for the checkpoint must be based on local experience as to where and when intoxicated drivers are likely to be traveling
5.  The decision as to which vehicles to stop at the checkpoint must be established by administratively pre-fixed, objective standards, and must not be left to the unfettered discretion of law enforcement at the scene.

      Your DUI charges can be challenged if the police didn’t follow the this criteria.
The only way to know if the police properly set up the DUI roadblock or sobriety checkpoint is to make an appointment with an experienced Pennsylvania DUI lawyer. Call the Law Offices of Anthony J. Hasson for a free initial consultation to learn more DUI roadblocks or sobriety checkpoints. As your Pennsylvania DUI criminal defense lawyer, Attorney Hasson will provide experienced and aggressive representation you can trust. Your DUI case is important, and it will receive the personal attention it deserves.

                                                                   PA DUI Penalties         

      Pennsylvania courts use a multi-tiered  approach when sentencing DUI convictions. The penalty range is determined by two important factors. The BAC level of the defendant and the number of prior convictions.

      PennDOT divides DUI charges into 3 tiers and the penalties for each tier differs considerably:

Tier 1: General Impairment (BAC of .08 to .099%; incapable of safe driving; no injury or property damage)

                                                  1st Offense                                           2nd Offense                                         3rd Offense               

Minimum Jail                 No minimum jail time required                     2 days to 6 months                               10 Days to 2 years

Fines and Penalties                       $300                                                 $300-$2,500                                         $500-$5000     

License Suspension                       None                                   12 Months & Ignition Interlock           12 Months & Ignition Interlock

                                                                                                                  for 1 year                                           for 1 year

Tier 2: High Impairment (BAC of .10 to .159%; BAC for minor of .02 to .159%; BAC for school bus driver of .02 to .159%; BAC for driver of a commercial vehicle of .04 to .159%; General Impairment BAC with an accident;)

                                                   1st Offense                                           2nd Offense                                         3rd Offense  

Minimum Jail                         2 days to 6 months                               30 days to 6 months                              90 days to 5 years

Fines and Penalties                  $500-$5,000                                            $750-$5,000                                      $1,500-$10,000                       

License Suspension                   12 Months                                    12 Months & Ignition Interlock              18 Months & Ignition Interlock

                                                                                                                        for 1 year                                              for 1 year

Tier 3: Highest Impairment (BAC of .16 or greater; refusal of chemical test; controlled substance DUI)**

                                                   1st Offense                                           2nd Offense                                         3rd Offense  

Minimum Jail                         3 days to 6 months                               30 days to 6 months                              90 days to 5 years
Fines and Penalties                 $1,000-$5,000                                            $750-$5,000                                      $1,500-$10,000                      
License Suspension                   12 Months                                    12 Months & Ignition Interlock               18 Months & Ignition Interlock

                                                                                                                        for 1 year                                              for 1 year

** All Tiers require Alcohol Highway Safety School treatment

                                                         Interlock Ignition Device

       An ignition interlock device (IID) is similar to a breathalyzer, however an IID is connected to the vehicle dashboard or other location inside the vehicle and requires that a driver breath into the device prior to starting the vehicle. If the ignition interlock device detects the blood alcohol concentration of the driver to be above the programmed limit in the ignition interlock device, then the engine of the vehicle will not start.

How Does it Work? 

The driver blows into the mouthpiece.
The fuel cell inside the ignition interlock device analyzes the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) .
If the BAC is above the pre-determined limit, the fuel cell triggers a relay to stay open and the car will not start.
If the BAC is within the pre-determined limit, the fuel cell triggers a relay to close and the car will start.

                        Restricted Driver Licenses 

      When a driver has a license suspended for a DUI, the court may allow the driver to use a restricted driver’s license after a certain amount of their suspension has been served. In most cases a restricted driver’s license will allow the driver to drive to and from a place of employment, school, drug or alcohol treatment and other destinations defined by the court.

      After a predetermined time (set by state law or the court), the driver can apply for a restricted driver license. In many states a restricted license may only be issued if the driver in questions installs a certified Ignition Interlock Device (IID).

Driver License Reinstatement 

In many states a driver that has been convicted of a second, third or subsequent DUI may be required to install an IID as a prerequisite to driver license reinstatement. In other states, the driver may not be allowed license reinstatement without first installing an IID for a length of time determined by state law.

Like all DUI laws, the IID requirements differ from state to state and not every state requires their use. Since 2009 more and more states are requiring IIDs for both restricted licenses and driver license reinstatement. 

Can a Driver "Trick" the IID? 

IID systems meet strict government requirements and are designed with security and safety in mind. Even if a driver is able to circumvent an ignition interlock system, the penalties for this are severe and trickery will only serve to make a bad situation worse. Keep in mind that all events on an ignition interlock system are recorded and a "rolling retest" is required periodically. 

Isn't a "Rolling Retest" Dangerous? 

During the "rolling-retest" the driver is allowed ample time to pull over to the side of the road or leave the roadway to do the rolling-retest safely. If the driver fails the rolling-retest, the IID will record the event and will not, in any case shut the engine off as this would cause a safety issue.

Who Pays for the Ignition Interlock Device and How Much Does It Cost? 

In almost all cases the driver who has been convicted of a DUI/DWI pays for the installation and lease of the ignition interlock system. Prices vary across the United States for the installation and lease of an ignition interlock system. You can expect to pay up to $100 for installation and between $50-$100 per month for the lease. This is a rough estimate and your price may be higher or lower depending on your geographic location. 

How much do you have to drink (BAC*) for a DUI in Pennsylvania?

How many drinks does it take? Check the BAC chart.

You may want to try our BAC Calculator, however I wouldn't let any results encourage you to drink and drive.

What are the penalties if you refuse to take a chemical test in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania has an implied consent law. That means that if you refuse to submit to a chemical test you will be subject to a fine and automatic license suspension. Learn more about Pennsylvania’s implied consent law.

Can you plead to a lesser offense than DUI in Pennsylvania?

No, a plea bargain for a conviction of "wet reckless" (reckless driving involving alcohol) is barred by statute in Pennsylvania.

What is an SSR-22?

  An SR-22 is a form filed by your insurance company demonstrating that you meet certain insurance requirements. Only an insurance company can furnish the SR-22. Often the SR-22 need only meet your state’s minium liability standards. In some cases, however, certain individuals may be subject to insurance coverage requirements that have higher limits and different coverage. To learn more, see Pennsylvania SR22 Insurance Requirement.

Drinking and Driving Laws in Pennsylvania

The State of Pennsylvania prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle by a driver with .08 percent or above blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The .08 BAC limit is the standard measurement used across the United States for the "impaired" driver. Pennsylvania has lower BAC limits for commercial drivers (.04 percent) and has a "zero tolerance" or .02 percent BAC for drivers under the age of 21. The Pennsylvania law also includes controlled substances such as marijuana, cocaine, inhalants and other intoxicants.

How many drinks does it take to reach the legal limit in Pennsylvania? Determining the number of drinks it will take for any individual to reach the .08 BAC limit depends on a number of factors. There are charts and calculators that can be used as a reference, however these tools do not take into account all variables in the BAC equation. It is safe to say that each drink you consume brings you that much closer to becoming a legally impaired driver.

The best answer is not to drink and drive. The State of Pennsylvania has strict laws for drunk driving, and when you drink and drive in Pennsylvania, you risk your freedom, finances and your future.

The Implied Consent Law in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has what is known as an "Implied Consent" law. This law means that all drivers on the roadways of Pennsylvania agree to submit to a chemical test of their blood, breath or urine if an officer of the law suspects that they are under the influence of drugs, alcohol or both. If you refuse to submit to such a test, your drivers license will be suspended for 1 year on the first refusal. You are considered guilty of a DUI if you refuse a test and each time you refuse this test the penalty increases. Like many states, the refusal to submit to testing often brings on harsher penalties than an actual DUI.

Law Offices of Anthony J. Hasson is a Pennsylvania law firm defending DUI, license suspension and criminal clients throughout Chester County, Philadelphia County, Montgomery County, Delaware County, Berks County and surrounding communities.

Chester County Criminal Defense Attorney