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DUI and Collateral Consequences

Pennsylvania DUI: Collateral Consequences Can Exceed Criminal Penalties

By Attorney Elisabeth Pasqualini, Criminal Division Leader

Every state takes drunk-driving charges seriously, and Pennsylvania is no exception. Even the lowest level first offense DUI can lead to six months of probation, a $300 fine and an alcohol assessment plus highway safety school. If the driver's breathalyzer testing is high enough, a first offense can lead to a full year of license suspension, jail time and a fine as high as $5,000. For chronic repeat offenders, a DUI conviction can mean years of incarceration, fines as high as $10,000 and a long loss of driving privileges.

These are just the criminal penalties. As one recent story reveals, the collateral consequences can far exceed the legal implications of a DUI arrest and conviction. Pennsylvania school superintendant Richard Mextorf resigned his position after being pulled over on suspicion of DUI, failing field sobriety tests and registering a BAC of almost four times the legal limit. Even before his preliminary hearing, his career came to an abrupt end.

Aggressive defense from a PA DUI lawyer can help alleged intoxicated drivers protect their legal reputation and other interests. Minimizing the impact of a DUI arrest on your reputation is critical, but acting strategically to avoid a conviction is just as vital. A conviction for driving while intoxicated will cause your auto insurance rates to increase significantly, and a DUI on your record makes you more vulnerable to harsher penalties should you ever face another drunk-driving charge.

A DUI Defense Lawyer Will Explain Your Options and Act Swiftly on Your Behalf

Other consequences of a DUI conviction include lost mobility due to license suspension, which can in turn limit job opportunities or make getting to work much less convenient. Accused drunk drivers should also take into account that a DUI will show up on background checks as you seek employment, educational and housing opportunities.

A criminal defense attorney will explain all relevant factors that may be involved in your case, including pre-textual stops, the shortcomings of field sobriety tests and inaccuracies in breathalyzer testing. Your first concern should be understanding the full range of strategies for challenging your DUI in court.