Whether you have a glass of wine at dinner, a 1.5 ounce shot of liquor at a gathering, or a 12-ounce beer at home, if you get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, you can get a driving-under-the-influence or DUI charge. According to the Pennsylvania State Police, the number of DUI charges rose 10% in 2019, leading to 22,139 arrests. If you find yourself in trouble with law enforcement for the first time, Wyland Law Group has the experience with a McKees Rocks first-time DUI to guide you through the process.
One of the issues with having a first-time DUI arrest is the lack of understanding about how you can acquire a DUI charge, the processes that come with the arrest, and how the experience can affect various areas of your life. Here, we break down what you need to know about driving under the influence in McKees Rocks, and how our experienced team at Wyland Law Group can help.
What Are Controlled Substances?
People often assume driving under the influence refers solely to drunk driving, but that is not accurate. In Pennsylvania, you can get a DUI conviction for driving with any drug or combination of drugs in your system, including any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance that impairs your ability to drive safely.Examples of controlled substances are:
The list contains other illicit substances and medications that can impair driving, all of which are thoroughly understood by the experienced McKees Rocks first-time DUI attorneys at Wyland Law Group. It is not often easy for prosecutors to successfully prove DUI cases involving controlled substances, but our team knows how to defend against these charges.
What Motor Vehicles Can Land You With a DUI Charge?
Another misconception residents have about DUI arrests is that it can only happen to drivers in a car or truck. In McKees Rocks, other forms of transportation also fall into the classification of “motor vehicle.” You could face substantial legal trouble if you are under the influence and operate any of the following machines:
Motorcycles and motorized scooters
Lawn and farm equipment
It is best to remember that any transportation mode with a motor or drive train constitutes a motor vehicle in Pennsylvania. The only exception is a motorized wheelchair.
You also need to understand that you don’t have to be actively driving the vehicle to get a DUI charge. If law enforcement catches you behind the wheel with the keys while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you can get arrested, but these cases are not easily proven, and we will defend you and push toward an outcome in your favor.
Possible McKees Rocks First-Time DUI Penalties
A first offense for DUI is a misdemeanor. You can face jail time between 72 hours and six months, a fine between $1000 and $5000, and the suspension of your license for up to 18 months. Your penalties may include 150 hours of community service or mandatory attendance at an alcohol highway safety school.
Penalties will worsen the more DUI charges you have, usually in the form of a more extended imprisonment and higher fines.
There is zero tolerance in McKees Rocks and the rest of Pennsylvania for underage DUI. Anyone under 21 who receives a DUI conviction with any blood alcohol content (BAC) can face a 12 to 18-month license suspension, 48 hours to six months imprisonment, and fines ranging from $500 to $5,000.
The legal BAC limit in Pennsylvania is .08%. Suppose law enforcement stops or approaches your vehicle on suspicion of you being under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances. In that case, you, the driver, may be asked to take to a breath, blood, or urine test to detect the presence of drugs or alcohol in your body.
Pennsylvania has an Implied Consent Law, meaning if law enforcement suspects you of driving under the influence, you must submit to blood alcohol testing. If you refuse to submit to testing, you could lose your driver’s license for six to 18 months.
Once you refuse the test, the arresting officer must tell you about the consequences of a refusal. If they don’t tell you about the Implied Consent Law and subsequent repercussions, reach out to a first-time DUI attorney at Wyland Law Group immediately.
How Does Sentencing Work for First-Time DUI Offenses?
Pennsylvania laws follow a tiered system for handling DUI arrests and sentences. First-time offenders usually garner lighter penalties than people with multiple DUIs on their records. For instance, third-time offenders can receive a sentence of up to five years in jail and $10,000 in fines if their DUI results in injury, death, or property damage.
Ways a DUI Conviction Can Affect Your Life
After receiving a McKees Rocks first-time DUI conviction, you may have questions about how the arrest will affect your life. Aside from legal penalties and expenses for towing fees, fines, alcohol treatments, and license restoration, you can experience changes in other areas of your life. Still, you can count on the team at Wyland Law Group to help you through them.
In Pennsylvania, a DUI arrest can cause you to lose your job, especially for anyone who needs a commercial license for work. It only takes one conviction to lose licensing and your employment. If you are an accountant, teacher, doctor, or nurse, you can also lose your professional license with a DUI arrest.
Even if your career doesn’t require specific licensing, your employer can still terminate your employment upon knowledge of your arrest. With a DUI on your record, finding another job will be challenging.
If you have a DUI conviction in Pennsylvania, it will stay on your permanent record. It’s possible to erase this black mark, but it is complicated to do. Thankfully, there are steps you can take as a first-time offender to prevent a permanent conviction, such as participating in the state’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program.
Ignition Interlock System
If you still retain some driving privileges after your first DUI, the state’s law requires your vehicle to have an ignition interlock installation. This device is for offenders arrested with high blood alcohol levels and anyone who refuses a breath test.
The system works by requiring the vehicle’s driver to blow into it to ensure that they have no alcohol in their system. You cannot start the car without testing your BAC. The device will also prompt the driver to blow into it periodically while operating the car or truck.
How To Hire a McKees Rocks First-Time DUI Attorney
Getting arrested for DUI is an overwhelming experience for many, but a skilled DUI attorney is your best line of defense for a favorable outcome of your case. The lawyer has ample knowledge and a strong understanding of municipal regulations and state laws about driving under the influence, and they will use their experience to defend you in and out of court.
Not every lawyer has the capabilities to help you fight your DUI charge for lighter penalties or dismissal. Still, you can follow a couple of steps to help you find one who concentrates on this area of practice.
Get Recommendations: Your initial arrest may be a disorienting experience, but you will have the chance to make a phone call at some point while you’re in custody. Use the time to reach out to relatives, friends, or coworkers who can recommend a DUI attorney with experience handling successful DUI litigations. You don’t need any lawyer; you need assistance from someone with specialized expertise. Laws governing driving under the influence are complex, and you need someone who understands them if you want to stay out of jail and have lighter penalties.
Ask Appropriate Questions: You will not have the opportunity to research your lawyer recommendations while in custody. However, when you speak to an attorney, inquire about their experience and if they handled cases similar to yours. Knowing those cases’ outcomes is also valuable. The discussion will give you a better understanding of the course your case may take.
It’s best not to attempt to fight a DUI charge alone. Fines can cost more than lawyer fees, and lawyers’ wealth of knowledge is invaluable. At Wyland Law Group, you can expect to receive clarity about your charges, legal proceedings, and penalties, and we will advise you on the best course of action for your specific case.
Turn to Wyland Law Group for Defense Against a First Time DUI Charge
If you receive a first-time DUI in McKees Rocks, you should understand that you have options and are entitled to due process. At Wyland Law Group, we have extensive knowledge about Pennsylvania laws about driving under the influence, and we will walk you through every step of the process. Some DUI cases involving unusual motor vehicles and controlled substances may have more robust defenses, but we will work diligently to find the strongest defense strategies to produce favorable outcomes.
We have assisted hundreds of clients, including McKees Rocks residents, by negotiating for lighter sentences, getting charges reduced or dismissed, and assisting with appeal processes. To request a free consultation, call 412-710-0013 today.
Whether you have been charged with your first offense or your third, having an experienced attorney on your side is critical to your ability to defend yourself against the government’s allegations. I have the knowledge and experience to help you achieve the best possible results.
I offer flexible office hours, including evenings to work around your schedule. I look forward to meeting you and discussing with you how I can help.