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Pennsylvania DUI
Defense Lawyer

Chester County DUI Defense Lawyers in Pennsylvania

A DUI in Chester County includes not only a police officer’s opinion of inability to driving safely, but also per se convictions of driving while your blood alcohol concentration is .08 percent or higher. In Pennsylvania, the Government is constantly making it easier for them to get a conviction for a DUI and expanding the definition of what a DUI is.

Last year’s punishment is never enough and politicians get elected by pushing for more; with each new and improved punishments for DUI resulting in more jail time, more loss of license, and a greater impact on your family and your job.

Do not underestimate the impact of a Driving After Imbibing or DUI Drunk Driving Offense. You need a Chester County DUI attorney that will stand for you, and your family when you are facing a conviction for drunk driving.

DUI / Drunk Driving

For hundreds of drivers, a DUI arrest will be the first criminal charges that they face. If caught operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, a person faces serious consequences, even for a first offense.

With a chance of jail time, heavy fines, suspension of driving privileges, and a criminal record hanging over your head, the court proceedings ahead of you may seem overwhelming. In this situation, the aid of an experienced attorney can make all the difference.

Ciccarelli Law Offices is different.  Our Chester County DUI lawyers have over 50 years of combined experience with our goal of working toward the best possible results. We bring a team of former DUI prosecutors and Philadelphia defenders, armed with the experience to fight DUI charges and aimed at serving our clients when then need us most.

Our attorneys are battle-tested in the local court systems and experienced in taking on the local District Attorney’s Offices. We are also well versed in the alternate sentencing programs, like the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) and the Intermediate Punishment Program (IPP) and will strive to maximize each option so that you are equipped to make the most informed decision about your case. Learn more about our DUI Legal Team, or contact us now by Email or call (610) 692-8700.

Pennsylvania DUI Lawyer

Can you afford to lose your license, face jail time, or endure a permanent criminal record? You need more than one lawyer or just one hope when facing dui charges and prosecution for drunk driving in Chester County or the greater Philadelphia area. We are a team of defense lawyers with nearly 40 years of experience fighting for justice when you are facing a DUI. The legal team at Ciccarelli Law Offices can help defend you against a DUI charge. These allegations are not to be taken lightly, and you need to take steps to protect your future. Our team can work to have your charges reduced or dismissed before you even appear in court. A West Chester DUI lawyer from Ciccarelli Law Offices will fight for you. Call us today at (610) 692-8700 to schedule your free consultation.

We are proud to represent clients throughout the Greater Philadelphia area. We are based in West Chester, and have offices in Philadelphia, Springfield, King of Prussia, Kennett Square, Radnor, Lancaster, Malvern and Plymouth Meeting. We represent clients in Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County and Lancaster County.

If you are facing a DUI charge, our attorneys can help defend you at every step of the process, including your license suspension hearing or application for a hardship license.

Josh Tebay and Lee were fantastic to work with… I would highly recommend Ciccarelli Law Offices based on my experiences.

Legal Limit for Alcohol in Pennsylvania

Until such time that Pennsylvania reduces the legal limit further (see attempt to reduce the DUI Limit in Pennsylvania to .05 percent) the current laws place a legal limit of .08 % in Pennsylvania.  A Blood alcohol concentration at .08 percent are higher is per se DUI and can result in a conviction.  However, a Blood alcohol level as low as .05 percent can be considered in determining that a driver is guilty of a DUI because they are incapable of safe driving.

Field Sobriety Tests

When you are suspected of driving after imbibing or drunk driving, the police will commonly perform a series of Field sobriety tests so that the police can use their subjective opinion as evidence in support of your arrest (establishing reasonable grounds for a dui) and the obtaining of blood alcohol testing.There are three field sobriety tests that are recognized by NHTSA as possibly showing that a motorist is impaired:

  • The One Leg Stand: A test that requires you to stand on one leg about six inches off the ground for 30 seconds.
  • The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN): A test that involves the officer’s opinion of whether your eyes ably follow his finger or other object as it moves.
  • Walk and Turn: A test that gauges your steadiness and mobility by requiring your ability to take nine steps placing the heel of one foot at the top of the toe of the other foot, take nine steps, then pivot on your foot and return to where you started.

Other tests are often administered in Pennsylvania including the finger-to-nose test, reciting the alphabet, and a balancing test, but tests are not recognized by NHTSA as indicators of impaired and can be challenged by our dui defense team.

Proof of Intoxication in Pennsylvania

In many cases, factors other than alcohol intoxication or impairment from a controlled substance can lead to irregular driving or poor performance on a field sobriety test. These factors can result in driving patterns or behavior that initially indicates driving under the influence to a law enforcement officer. Some factors can include:

  • Tired
  • A medical condition or disability
  • Distraction
  • Physical limitations

If you’re like many drivers arrested for DUI, you may be tempted to plead guilty just to put the experience behind you. That’s completely understandable, but you should know that there may be excellent reasons to fight your case.

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Nearly 25 years ago I began my DUI Defense career with a jury trial many people did not think could be won.  A man, with three prior drunk driving convictions, found passed out, alone, at the scene of an accident on an abandoned road, with a blood alcohol of nearly three times the legal limit and facing a state jail sentence.  I was certainly not the first attorney he spoke to, considering the seriousness of the charges and the newness of my law degree; but there was something about me that he apparently liked.  I would like to think it was my optimism, my sincerity, and my clarity of the facts, the issues and the stakes.

In the course of that jury trial, I was able to turn the prosecutions’s case against itself; taking the Commonwealth’s strongest evidence; the high level of intoxication; and assert that my client was so intoxicated that he could not have possibly been driving and that there had to be another driver.  That followed with cross-examination of the police that established the police could not rule out the existence of another driver and admissions by a paramedic called by the Commonwealth that he  may have been coached by the prosecuting officer.  The acquittal in this my first jury trial was cemented with the introduction of one defense witness; the man who was operating the vehicle and fled the scene after the accident leaving my client behind.

The jury acquittal was a culmination of  the facts, our investigation and a relentless defense.  It is hardly a common result and each case is as different as its facts but the process brought justice for my client and empowered me to fight for the accused.  It is a fight I now  bring with the efforts of a team of attorneys including former DUI prosecutors.

What Types of Pennsylvania DUI Charges are you Facing?

Pennsylvania law provides for three general categories of DUI offenses based on different levels of impairment. The consequences for offenses committed each level of impairment increase as the driver’s BAC increases or if a driver is deemed to have refused. The categories and penalties according to Pennsylvania Statutes § 3802 are:

General DUI Impairment with a BAC of .08 to .099%:

First DUI (no prior DUI convictions) – A first offense DUI in Pennsylvania involving a BAC of 0.08 to .099 is not a felony but an ungraded misdemeanor with a statutory maximum sentence of six months of supervision including:

  • Pay a $300 fine;
  • Must complete the alcohol highway safety school; and
  • Must complete alcohol or drug treatment, if ordered.

Second DUI (one prior DUI conviction within 10 years) – A second DUI involving a BAC of 0.08 to .099 is also a misdemeanor carrying a minimum period of supervision but also carrying very serious consequences including:

  • A One Year driver license suspension;
  • A minimum of 5 days in jail (although the court can order up to 6 months);
  • You may be compelled to install and use an ignition interlock device for at least one year;
  • Pay a fine between $300 and $2,500;
  • Successfully complete the alcohol highway safety school; and
  • Complete an alcohol or drug treatment, if ordered.

Third DUI (two prior DUI convictions within ten (10) years) – A third DUI involving a BAC of 0.08 to .099 is considered a second (2nd) degree misdemeanor and in addition to up to two years supervision, an individual can face:

  • A One year driver license suspension;
  • A minimum of 10 days in jail (although the court can order up to 2 years in prison);
  • You may be compelled to install and use an ignition interlock device for at least one year;
  • Pay a fine between $500 and $5,000;
  • Successfully complete an alcohol highway safety school; and
  • Complete an alcohol or drug treatment program, if ordered.

High DUI Impairment with a BAC of .10 to .159%:

First DUI (no prior DUI convictions) – A first DUI involving a BAC of .10 to .159% is considered an ungraded misdemeanor. Under Pennsylvania law, the courts will typically impose the following sentence:

  • A One Year driver’s license suspension;
  • At least 48 hours in jail (although the court can impose up to 6 months in prison);
  • A fine between $500 and $5,000;
  • Successful completion of the alcohol highway safety school; and
  • Completion of alcohol or drug treatment, if ordered.

Second DUI (one prior DUI conviction) – A second DUI involving a BAC of .10 to .159% is considered an ungraded misdemeanor. Under Pennsylvania law, the courts will typically impose the following sentence:

  • You may be compelled to install and use an ignition interlock device for at least one year
  • A One Year driver’s license suspension;
  • At least 30 days in jail (although the court can impose up to 6 months in prison);
  • A fine between $750 and $5,000;
  • Successful completion of the alcohol highway safety school; and
  • Completion of alcohol or drug treatment, if ordered.

Third DUI (two prior DUI convictions) – A third DUI involving a BAC of .10 to .159% is considered a first degree misdemeanor, which carries up to five years of supervision and:

  • You may be compelled to install and use an ignition interlock device for at least one year
  • An 18 month driver’s license suspension;
  • At least Three Months (90 days) in jail (although the court can impose up to 5 years in prison);
  • A fine between $1,500 and $10,000;
  • Successful completion of the alcohol highway safety school; and
  • Completion of alcohol or drug treatment, if ordered.

Fourth or Subsequent DUI – A fourth or subsequent DUI involving a BAC of .10 to .159% is considered a first (1st) degree misdemeanor. Under Pennsylvania law, if the driver is convicted of a fourth or subsequent DUI, the courts will typically impose the following sentence:

  • You may be compelled to install and use an ignition interlock device for at least one year;
  •  An 18 month driver’s license suspension;
  • Between one and five years in the Pennsylvania State Prison system;
  • A fine between $1,500 and $10,000;
  • Successful completion of the alcohol highway safety school; and
  • Completion of alcohol or drug treatment, if ordered.

Highest DUI Impairment with a BAC of .16% and higher:

First DUI (no prior DUI convictions)

  •  A first DUI involving a BAC of .16% and higher is considered an ungraded misdemeanor with up to six months of supervision and:
  • Imprisonment of at least 72 hours;
  • Pay a fine between $1,000 and $5,000;
  • You may be compelled to install and use an ignition interlock device for at least one year;
  • A 12 month driver’s license suspension;
  • Successfully complete the alcohol highway safety school; and
  • Complete an alcohol or drug treatment, if ordered.

Second DUI (one prior DUI conviction in 10 years) – A second DUI involving a BAC of .16% and higher is considered a misdemeanor of the first degree, which carries up to five years of supervision and:

  • A minimum of 90 days in prison;
  • Pay at least a $1,500 fine up to $10,000;
  • You may be compelled to install and use an ignition interlock device for at least one year;
  • An 18 month driver’s license suspension;
  • Successfully complete the alcohol highway safety school; and
  • Complete an alcohol or drug treatment, if ordered.

Third DUI (two prior DUI convictions) – A third DUI involving a BAC of .16% and higher is considered a misdemeanor of the first degree which carries up to five years of supervision and:

  • A minimum of one year in prison (typically a State Correctional Facility);
  • You may be compelled to install and use an ignition interlock device for at least one year;
  • An 18 month driver’s license suspension;
  • Pay at least a $2,500 fine; and
  • Complete an alcohol or drug treatment program, if ordered.

Practice Areas

CHESTER COUNTY DUI Defense LAWYERS

Information on
Pennsylvania DUI Charges

DUI Basics in Pennsylvania

According to Pennsylvania law, as defined in 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3802, a person cannot legally operate a vehicle” after imbibing a sufficient amount of alcohol such that the individual is rendered incapable of safely driving .” The specific amount of alcohol that is considered to impair a driver’s judgment to this level is a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08, even if the driver displays no outward signs of impairment.

If you’re caught with a BAC of.1 or more, however, you could be charged with a “high rate of alcohol”, which carries steeper penalties. If your BAC is over .16, penalties increase even further, and you can be charged with “highest rate of alcohol.”

Additionally, it is illegal to drive under the influence of controlled substances. You may not drive with any Schedule I drug in your system, or any Schedule II or III drug that has not been prescribed to you.

Special Circumstances for West Chester DUI

Some scenarios change the requirements or penalties for a DUI charge. For instance, if you drive a commercial vehicle, your BAC can only be at .04 without risking an arrest. For school vehicles such as buses, however, that limit is only .02. For these commercial drivers, a DUI conviction could result in losing their commercial license for a year and possibly losing their jobs.

Drivers under the legal drinking age of 21 can face a DUI if their BAC is above a .02 as well.

Penalties for a Chester County DUI Conviction

The possible punishments for a DUI charge vary depending on your criminal history and your BAC during the arrest. You could be facing jail time, fines, treatment programs, and a required ignition interlock device for your vehicle.

For a BAC between .08 and .1:

  • First Offense – An accused individual faces up to 6 months of probation, up to $300 in fines, a required alcohol highway safety course, and alcohol treatment
  • Second Offense – A second conviction carries a mandatory sentence of 5 days in jail that can be extended to up to 6 months. In addition, there will be a fine between $300 and $2,500, required alcohol treatment, suspension of driving privileges for up to one year, and a requirement for an ignition interlock device to be installed for up to one year.
  • Third or Subsequent Offenses – A conviction carries a mandatory jail term between 10 days and 2 years, a fine between $500 and $5,000, mandatory alcohol treatment, suspension of driving privileges for up to one year, and the installation of an ignition interlock device for up to one year.

For a BAC between .1 and .16 (High):

  • First Offense – This conviction carries between $500 and $5,000 in fines, between 48 hours and 6 months in jail, required attendance at an alcohol highway safety course, and you license can be suspended for up to one year.
  • Second Offense – For a second conviction your license will be automatically suspended for a year, you can be fined between $750 and $5,000, you will be required to attend and alcohol highway safety course, you can be sentenced to 30 days to 6 months in jail, and you will be required to have an interlock ignition device installed in your vehicle for one year.
  • Third Offense –If you have been convicted twice in the past, your third charge can carry an automatic 18 month suspension of your license, 90 days to 5 years in jail, a fine between $1,500 and $10,000, required alcohol and drug treatment, and an interlock ignition device in your vehicle for up to 1 year.
  • Fourth and Subsequent Offenses – The penalties for a fourth offense or subsequent charges is the same as for a third offense, but you face a mandatory sentence of one year in jail, with the possibility of spending up to 5 years there.

For a BAC above .16 (Highest):

  • First Offense – For a first offense your license will be suspended for one year, you could spend anywhere from 72 hours to 6 months in jail, you could be fined between $1,000 and $5,000, you may be required to attend alcohol highway safety courses, and you may be ordered to seek alcohol treatment.
  • Second Offense- A second conviction carries the possibility for an automatic 18-month suspension of your driver’s license, a prison sentence between 90 days and 5 years, a fine from $1,500 to $10,000, mandatory attendance of alcohol highway safety school, participation in an alcohol treatment program, and a requirement to install an ignition interlock system in your vehicle for one year.
  • Third or Subsequent Offenses – After your second conviction, any further charges may lead to an automatic 18-month suspension of your driving privileges, a fine between $2,500 and $10,00, 1 to 5 years in jail, alcohol safety courses, and the installation of an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for one year.

For a BAC above .02 for Underage Driver (Under 21 years of Age)

  • First Offense – For a first offense your license will be suspended for one year, you could spend anywhere from 72 hours to 6 months in jail, you could be fined between $1,000 and $5,000, you may be required to attend alcohol highway safety courses, and you may be ordered to seek alcohol treatment.
  • Second Offense- A second conviction carries the possibility for an automatic 18-month suspension of your driver’s license, a prison sentence between 90 days and 5 years, a fine from $1,500 to $10,000, mandatory attendance of alcohol highway safety school, participation in an alcohol treatment program, and a requirement to install an ignition interlock system in your vehicle for one year.
  • Third or Subsequent Offenses – After your second conviction, any further charges may lead to an automatic 18-month suspension of your driving privileges, a fine between $2,500 and $10,00, 1 to 5 years in jail, alcohol safety courses, and the installation of an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for one year.

If you are a first-time offender, you may have the option of going through Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD). ARD requires you to fulfill certain commitments, like 50 hours of community service and a treatment program.

If you decide ARD is the best defense strategy for you, your West Chester defense attorney can argue why you deserve to be admitted into the program.

BAC Testing and Your Right to Refuse

If an officer detains your vehicle and suspects that you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he may request that you take a BAC Test. The most commonly used test is a breathalyzer, but your urine or blood may also be requested for testing.

Remember the saying, “ driving is a privilege, not a right.” More than an old saying, that is the law in Pennsylvania, and if you refuse to provide a BAC test where an officer has reasonable grounds for a bac test, you may be facing an additional one year suspension of your license over and above any loss of license attributable to a DUI conviction; as well as allow the prosecution to prosecute your dui as a highest tier offense.

You have the right to refuse the test if police do not have a warrant, but there are consequences, and if you are ultimately convicted of DUI this refusal will increase your penalties. The first time that this occurs, you face a minimum of 72 hours in jail and a suspension of your driving privileges for a year.

Even if a chemical test shows that your BAC is higher than the legal limit, this does not guarantee a conviction. In some instance, improper procedures can render the test results void. There is also a margin of error inherent in these tests that can be used to call their results into question. A skilled attorney can be key in finding a weakness in the prosecution’s use of BAC test results.

When a BAC test is requested, the officer must inform the driver that they do not have the right to remain silent and that refusing the test can result in a suspension of their license. In the case of a refusal, an accused individual will receive a notice of suspension within 30 days. After receiving this notification, you can then request a hearing where the suspension can be contested.

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Dedicated DUI Defense throughout Pennsylvania

If you’ve been accused of drunk driving in Downingtown, Exton, Oxford, Lancaster, Coatesville, Bucks County, Lancaster County, Delaware County, Montgomery County or anywhere in Southeastern Pennsylvania, you have rights. The team at Ciccarelli Law Offices can help you protect those rights, and fight for the best possible result for you. An experienced West Chester DUI lawyer can make a big difference in how your case turns out. Call (610) 692-8700 today to set up a free consultation to discuss your drunk driving charges with our attorneys.

Chester County DUI Defense Attorney

When choosing a DUI defense attorney, it is important to find one with knowledge, vigor and a record of success. Ciccarelli Law Offices provides all of these and more. A member of the DUI Defense Team of Ciccarelli Law Offices is ready to thoroughly analyze your driving under the influence case and help you to decide the best course of action. We will help you to understand the DUI charge and will provide you with practical options and alternatives. We will prepare each case as though it is going to trial to insure preparation and thorough understanding and will take the case to trial if you are not satisfied with the resolution that is offered. We strive to be zealous advocates and always try to obtain the best results for our clients.

It may be possible to fight your Pennsylvania DUI charge and win, but you’ll never know if you plead guilty without first exploring your options. Ciccarelli Law Offices can review your case to determine whether the local Pennsylvania district attorney’s case has weaknesses that are open to challenge. Please contact us today for a free consultation.

You deserve a Chester County DUI lawyer that is available when you need him, treats you with respect, and protects your rights vigorously.  For more information or to schedule an appointment with an experienced Pennsylvania DUI Attorney at Ciccarelli Law Offices, by contacting us at (610) 692-8700 or toll free at (877) 529-2422.

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