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DUI Attorneys in Harrisburg

Protecting Your Rights, Freedom & Driving Privileges

If you have been charged with a drinking and driving offense in Pennsylvania, it is critical that you remain silent and that you fully cooperate with the police, as anything you say or do may be used by the prosecution and the police to establish that you had a blood alcohol content (BAC) above the 0.08 limit at the time of your DUI stop. A conviction on these charges could result in life-altering consequences, including significant fines, possible jail time, and the loss of your driver's license.

Contact Shaffer & Engle today for skilled legal support and zealous advocacy if you or a family member has been charged with a DUI. You have rights; we will work diligently to protect them by providing you with the highest-quality representation possible.

Decades of Experience with DUI Defense

The DUI defense lawyers at our firm have over 65 years of combined legal experience implementing effective case strategies on behalf of clients charged with drunk driving.

We can represent you at every stage of the legal process, including:

  • All court appearances with you, or on your behalf
  • Full investigation of the traffic stop and charge
  • Motions to dismiss or reduce charges
  • Related traffic violations defense
  • License reinstatement process
  • License revocation hearings

Heightened Repercussions for DUI Conviction

The consequences of a DUI conviction are serious. In February 2004, the Pennsylvania legislature tightened the guidelines for DUI charges. The new law has increased the jail time for a first-time DUI with a BAC of 0.16 percent from two days to three days in jail. Additionally, subsequent convictions within 10 years now result in 90 days in jail, as opposed to 30 days under the old law. The BAC necessary to receive a charge of DUI or ARD are 0.02 percent for a juvenile offender, 0.08 percent for an adult, and 0.04 percent for a commercial freight hauler or bus operator.

Our attorneys have an in-depth understanding of the laws that relate to DUI stops, testing, and arrests. We will effectively represent you in your drinking and driving case. Elisabeth K.H. Pasqualini, Esq. is an accomplished federal and state criminal defense attorney who has successfully defended clients against serious DUI charges.

Actual Physical Control

The concept of "actual physical control" involves control of the movements of either the machinery of a motor vehicle or of the management of the vehicle itself, without a requirement that the entire vehicle be in motion.

To determine whether a person was in “actual physical control of a vehicle,” these should be considered:

  • Where the vehicle was located
  • Whether or not the motor was running
  • Any additional evidence proving the defendant drove the vehicle

A determination of actual physical control of a vehicle, as required to sustain a DUI conviction, is based upon the totality of the circumstances. The fact that the car is not moving is not dispositive, however, of whether the appellant is "in actual physical control." In a DUI prosecution, the Commonwealth can use wholly circumstantial evidence to establish that a defendant was driving, operating, or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle.

Showing that an intoxicated defendant started a parked car, without more evidence, is not enough to prove actual physical control necessary to sustain a DUI conviction; the Commonwealth must show some additional facts to illustrate that the defendant was a danger to public safety. In order to establish that the defendant was in "actual physical control" of the automobile, the Commonwealth must show something more than the defendant behind the wheel, with the motor running; there must be evidence to support an inference indicating that the defendant drove the vehicle while he or she was intoxicated.

For example, a defendant may be convicted of the offense of driving while under the influence of alcohol when he or she proceeded downhill on a motorcycle without starting the engine, weaving the cycle from side to side, because with the exception of starting the engine, the defendant's actions were no different, and no less dangerous, than if the engine had been started.

At Shaffer & Engle, we have successfully challenged many cases on the basis that the defendant was not in "actual physical control" of the vehicle. Call our DUI lawyers in Harrisburg at (717) 268-4287 to discuss your case in more detail.

The Location of the Offense Is Crucial

Since driving under the influence of alcohol is defined in the Vehicle Code as a "serious traffic offense," the offense must be committed on a highway or a trafficway. An essential element of the DUI statute is that the vehicle be operated on a highway or trafficway while the operator is under the influence of alcohol. The key term used to specify the type of travel for a highway or trafficway is if the path is and can be used or open to the public.

There is authority that a university parking lot that is restricted for the use of properly registered student vehicles and designed for the parking of these vehicles is not open to the public for the purposes of vehicular traffic, thus, is not a trafficway within the meaning of the Vehicle Code, so that a charge of driving while under the influence which took place in such a parking lot must be dismissed.

What Constitutes Being "Guilty" of DUI?

The accused must be intoxicated or under the influence of intoxicating liquor to be guilty of driving while intoxicated

One is intoxicated when he or she does not have the normal use of his or her physical and mental faculties:

  • By reason of the use of intoxicating liquor
  • When he or she is affected by liquor to the extent that it is less safe for him or her to operate the automobile than it would be if he or she were not so affected
  • When, by reason of such use, he or she is incapable of driving with the care essential to the safety of occupants of the vehicle and others

Under some specific statutes, however, proof that the defendant was "under the influence" or "intoxicated" is not required for a conviction of driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle when one has a specified blood alcohol content. However, the test whether a motorist is driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor is not his or her fitness or unfitness to drive, but whether he or she has imbibed to an extent that his or her mental or physical condition is deleteriously affected.

Being Under the Influence of Narcotic Drugs

Within the meaning of a statute making it an offense to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of narcotic drugs, a person is under the influence of such drugs when he or she has taken a sufficient amount of them to cause him or her to lose the normal control of her or his mental or bodily faculties, or both, to the extent that there is an appreciable impairment of both or either of those faculties. Stated another way, if a motorist is under the influence of a drug to the extent that it impairs the motorist's ability, in any manner, to operate his or her vehicle, the motorist is in a "drugged condition" and guilty of driving while intoxicated.

The legal use of a prescription drug is no defense and generally, there is no requirement to show intent in a prosecution for driving while under the influence of drugs. In addition, a prescription drug user may be convicted where he or she also consumed intoxicating liquor, the drugs making him or her more susceptible to the influence of the liquor.

Note that it is impossible to properly define and classify every element of the DUI statute in Pennsylvania as it relates to an individual's case. That is why it is essential to have an attorney with the knowledge and experience to defend your case review the criminal complaint, incident report, and any charging documents supplied by the police in support of the case against you.

At Shaffer & Engle, we take the time to properly investigate your case, review the charges, interpret the Commonwealth's case against you, and provide a solid foundation and recommendation to alleviate the pain and anxiety that invade your life when you've been charged with a DUI. Don't let the situation handle you — you handle the situation!

Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD)

ARD is a pre-trial diversionary program that allows first-time offenders (and in certain extreme cases, second-time offenders) to complete a probationary period, pay fees and court costs, complete community service, undergo counseling, and complete the requirements of the Alcohol Safety School. At the conclusion of these, the individual's record is expunged (wiped clean).

The benefits of such a program are that the offender does not go to jail and there is a reduced license suspension period for Class C drivers (cars). In general, a first-time DUI offender would be looking at the possibility of up to 72 hours in jail and the loss of driving privileges for a year. If the ARD program is acceptable, the offender would not go to jail and receive only 30 to 60 days of suspension.

ARD requirements vary from county to county. Most counties, such as Dauphin, Cumberland, York, and Schuylkill require a period of probation (usually 12 months), completion of community service, and the payment of fees and court assessments (approximately $1,000).

Contact a Skilled DUI Lawyer in Harrisburg

Timing is critical in drunk driving cases. By neglecting to hire a knowledgeable DUI attorney in Harrisburg, you may be compromising the outcome of your case. If you or a family member has been charged with DUI or a related alcohol offense, contact the legal team at Shaffer & Engle immediately. Our Harrisburg DUI attorneys offer free consultations and can help you with all your legal needs. We also serve clients throughout Dauphin County.

What Our
Clients Have to Say

  • Elisabeth took our case and provided great counsel, direction, and splendid representation throughout the legal process.

    “I needed a criminal defense lawyer for a family member. So, having been represented by Shaffer & Engle previously, I contacted them. Elisabeth took our case and provided great counsel, direction, and splendid representation throughout the legal process. The case was dismissed which was the best verdict that could be achieved. We are so thankful and blessed to have had such a wonderful attorney!”

    Ernie M.

  • I wanted to thank you for the Support & Defense you provided me with on my last minute court case, you didn't have to defend me and told me to take a hike, buy you have a heart and that means a lot to some people.

    “I wanted to thank you for the Support & Defense you provided me with on my last minute court case, you didn't have to defend me and told me to take a hike, buy you have a heart and that means a lot to some people.”

    Tony

  • Mr. Engle was able to explain the laws in PA and got the job done in days.

    “I am an attorney in the state of Washington. I have a family law client who was in desperate need of legal assistance in PA. The case against him was affecting his ability to work. Mr. Engle contacted me as soon as my email was received and helped my client. Mr. Engle was able to explain the laws in PA and got the job done in days. I have never encountered another attorney as eager to help and get the job done. I would highly recommend Mr. Engle to anyone.”

    Pamela

  • Your firm was truly a blessing to me and I would recommend anybody needing legal assistance to seek the best with Shaffer and Engle Law Firm.

    “Thank you Jeff Engle and staff for all the hard work on my case. I was very pleased with the service that was provided to me as well as the outcome. Your firm was truly a blessing to me and I would recommend anybody needing legal assistance to seek the best with Shaffer and Engle Law Firm.”

    T.B.

  • Jeff presents himself as a very knowledgeable and able attorney with sincere personal interest in the success of your case.

    “From the minute you call Jeff Engle's office, you are treated with first class respect and service. Jeff is very up front about his experience, results and belief in the success or possible issues with your case. From the time of retainment, Jeff's use of electronic forms of communication keep you up to date to the minute whenever there are developments and progress in your case. This type of communication is nearly unheard of in ANY profession. Many times, I knew that Jeff was taking his personal time to communicate with me. Jeff presents himself as a very knowledgeable and able attorney with sincere personal interest in the success of your case. During times of uncertainty, having someone of Jeff's demeanor at your side will simply make you feel that no matter what the outcome may be, he is right there with you. There was not one time during the course of my case that I felt Jeff was not thoughtful and prepared for. I cannot say enough for the level of professionalism this man presents while representing you as a client.”

    Kevin