Bucks County DUI Lawyer
Bucks County DUI Defense
Bucks County was established in 1682 as one of the four original Pennsylvania counties, along with Philadelphia, Delaware, and Chester. Originally, Bucks County encompassed Northampton and Lehigh Counties, meaning it was considerably larger. From 1705 to 1726 the county seat of Bucks County was Bristol. The county seat was moved to Newtown in 1726, then to Doylestown in 1813. Bristol was initially named Buckingham and is one of the oldest towns in Bucks County. As of the 2010 census, the population of Bucks County was 625,249, making it the fourth-most populous county in Pennsylvania, and the 99th most-populous county across the nation.
General George Washington and his troops spend some time in Bucks County, prior to crossing the Delaware River on December 26, 1776. Washington’s successful assault on the British Hessian forces was truly a turning point in the American War of Independence. Bucks County has a total area of 622 square miles, with 18 square miles being water. The southern third of the county—sometimes called Lower Bucks—is in the Atlantic Coastal Plain. The are is flat and near sea level and is also the most industrialized—and populated—area in Bucks County.
Many areas along the Delaware River in Bucks County have surpluses of abandoned industries. These neglected structures are now being torn down to be replaced with new commercial chains and shopping plazas. The northern part of the county—Upper Bucks—is renowned for their natural scenery, farmland, colonial history and proximity to Philadelphia, New York City and Atlantic City. There are ten covered bridges in Bucks County, which remain open to vehicular traffic. All the bridges in Bucks County incorporate the Town truss design. Some of the popular attractions in Bucks County include Peddler’s Village, Washington Crossing Historic Park, Quakertown, New Hope, and Ivyland Railroad. Doylestown, the county seat of Bucks County, is home to Fordhook Farms, as well as Burpee Seeds.
Parx Casino and Racing in Bensalem offers thoroughbred horse racing, and Sesame Place—a family theme park based on Sesame Street—is in Lower Bucks County. Mel Gibson’s movie, Signs, was filmed in Bucks County in 2002. The Happening was filed in Upper Bucks County in 2008, and a short scene from Stephen King’s, The Stand is based in Pipersville. The Buddy Holly Story’s producer, director, and composer all live in Buck’s County, and Gerard Butler’s film, Law Abiding Citizen, was partially filmed in New Hope. The County Fair scene in Charlotte’s Web was filmed in Southampton, Bucks County during the Southampton Days Fair.
Bucks County Alcohol Highway Safety Program
The Alcohol Highway Safety Program in Pennsylvania was created in 1977. Each county in Pennsylvania has an Alcohol Highway Safety School, with program instructors certified through the Pennsylvania DUI Association which is a part of PennDOT. AHSS is a structured, educational program with the following goals:
- Teaching DUI offenders about the risks and dangers associated with driving while impaired;
- Educating students about the effects alcohol has on family members.
- Providing students with a basic understanding of what alcohol and drugs do to the body as well as on a person’s judgment.
- Discouraging abuse of alcohol by providing students with alternatives to coping with alcohol addiction.
- Providing students with information about drug and alcohol abuse counseling.
Attendance at AHSS is mandatory for anyone admitted into the ARD program; once you are registered for AHSS, you have only 30 days to complete the requirements of the programs—typically about 12.5 hours.
New Pennsylvania DUI Laws
Although Pennsylvania has never been particularly soft on DUI offenses, the laws in the state have recently gotten even harsher for those caught driving while impaired. In 2018, a new felony category for certain DUI offenses was created. Further, drivers who cause a fatal accident while they are driving under the influence would now face a minimum of five years in prison for each death if the driver had a prior DUI. Before the new law, the minimum time for each death was three years. Drivers who cause a fatal accident—when they have two or more prior DUI convictions—will face a minimum of seven years for each death.
The new law also provides that multiple repeat offenders who are arrested for a third DUI with a BAC of .16 percent or higher would also face felony charges, and any repeat offender who is facing a fourth or subsequent arrest for impaired driving will face felony charges as well. The new law increases the penalties for driving while serving a DUI license suspension. Under the old laws, the maximum penalty was a $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail, regardless of whether the offense was a first or subsequent offense. Under the new law, a second DUI offense results in a fine as large as $1,000, and at least 90 days in jail, while a third offense results in a $2,500 fine and up to six months in jail. Finally, the new law stipulates that any adult accompanying a driver with a learner’s permit must remain sober, or risk being charged with DUI as a passenger.
Tiers of BAC Levels in the State of Pennsylvania
Like other aspects of its DUI process, Pennsylvania has a unique tier system as far as DUI penalties go. The tiers are based on BAC, as well as multiple DUI convictions. The lowest penalty category for a Pennsylvania DUI is a BAC from 0.08 percent to .99 percent. The higher penalty category for a Pennsylvania DUI is a BAC from .10 percent to .159 percent, and the highest penalty category for a Pennsylvania DUI is .16 percent or higher.
ARD in Bucks County
Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) is a pre-trial intervention program specifically for first-time, non-violent DUI offenders. To be eligible for ARD, you must be a first-time DUI offender. If you have ever been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony crime in the state of Pennsylvania or any other state, or if you have ever been placed on ARD—or its equivalent—in Pennsylvania or any other state, you will not be eligible for ARD. The ARD program is typically used for DUI charges, theft charges, and Possession of a Controlled Subject charge. Recommendation for the ARD program is at the sole discretion of the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office.
Should you be accepted into the ARD program yet fail to comply with any of your ARD conditions, or should you be arrested for or convicted of a new offense, you can be removed from the ARD program. To apply for the Bucks County ARD program, you must:
- Waive your preliminary hearing;
- Submit a completed ARD application to the assigned District Court, and
- Submit a completed ARD information for with your application to the assigned District Court.
If you apply for ARD and your application is rejected, you can seek reconsideration of your application by filing a reconsideration request in writing prior to your trial date. If you are accepted into the ARD Program, you must complete at least 10 hours of community service, which is verified by the Bucks County Adult Probation and Parole Department. If you have privately retained counsel, you must pay $1,100 toward ARD costs on the date you are placed on ARD. If you have a public defender or are pro se, you must pay $550 on a DUI case. Once you successfully complete the ARD program, the court will automatically dismiss the charges against you and your criminal record will be expunged.
Our Bucks County DUI Lawyers Are There When You Need Us
At Ciccarelli Law Offices, our Bucks County DUI attorneys are here to help you following your DUI charges. We understand you are facing many serious penalties, and that you may be feeling very anxious about your future. It is likely you have many questions you need answered, and we will comprehensively answer those questions. We understand that if you are unable to drive, you may be unable to work, therefore, we will always fight hard to retain your driving privileges.