DUI Defense Attorney in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), in 2018, approximately 49,730 arrests were made for drunk driving statewide. Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is considered a serious infraction in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. If convicted, the defendant could be facing severe penalties, including hefty fines, lengthy jail time, license revocation or suspension, and other life-altering consequences.

If you're facing DUI charges, retaining an aggressive and highly-skilled Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney is crucial to protect your rights. At The Law Offices of John Della, I am dedicated to providing experienced legal services and reliable representation to clients facing drunk driving charges. As your legal counsel, I can fight vigorously to defend your rights, offer the strong legal representation you need, and outline an effective defense strategy that can maximize your chances of a favorable outcome.

My firm, The Law Offices of John Della Rocca, proudly serves clients throughout Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the surrounding areas of Delaware County, Montgomery County, and New Jersey.

DUI Charges in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania DUI laws prohibit driving, operating, or being in physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or controlled substances. A person may be considered to be "under the influence" of drugs or alcohol if their driving is impaired or they are unable to drive safely.

In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the blood alcohol content (BAC) threshold is:

  • .02% for bus drivers
  • .02% for drivers below 21 years
  • .04% for commercial drivers
  • .08% for regular drivers

However, a person driving a motor vehicle with a BAC of .08% or more may be convicted without any proof of actual impairment. This is often regarded as a "per se" DUI.  This can occur where the is psycho-physical proof that the driver was impaired.  Examples include: bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, the odor of alcohol or marijuana, erratic driving, failed sobriety tests, bad balance, open containers of alcohol in the vehicle, or drug contraband or paraphernalia in the vehicle, etc.

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Levels of DUI Offenses and Possible Penalties

In Pennsylvania, drivers found guilty of a DUI are punished using a tier system based on their BAC levels. The severity of each punishment usually varies depending on how high your BAC level is and the number of prior convictions on your record.

General Impairment

General impairment is an offender who was apprehended while operating a motor vehicle with a BAC level of between .08% and .10%.

First Offense

  • Fine: $300
  • Jail: Six months of probation but no jail time
  • License Suspension: None

Second Offense

  • Fine: Between $300 and $2,500
  • Jail: From five days to six months
  • License Suspension: 12 months

Third Offense

  • Fine: Between $500 and $5,000
  • Jail: From 10 days to two years
  • License Suspension: 12 months

High Rate

A defendant who was arrested while operating a motor vehicle with a BAC level between .10% and .16% will face high rate charges.

First Offense

  • Fine: Between $500 and $5,000
  • Jail: From 48 hours to six months
  • License Suspension: 12 months

Second Offense

  • Fine: Between $750 and $5,000
  • Jail: From 30 days to six months
  • License Suspension: 12 months

Third Offense

  • Fine: Between $1,500 and $10,000
  • Jail: From 90 days to five years
  • License Suspension: 18 months

Highest Rate

Defendants who were caught while operating a motor vehicle with a BAC level of .16% or more will face the highest rate charges. This also applies to suspects who refused to take a breathalyzer test.

First Offense

  • Fine: Between $1,000 and $5,000
  • Jail: From 72 hours to six months
  • License Suspension: 12 months

Second Offense

  • Fine: Between $1,500 and $10,000
  • Jail: From 90 days to five years
  • License Suspension: 18 months

Third Offense

  • Fine: Between $2,500 and $10,000
  • Jail: From one year to five years
  • License Suspension: 18 months

DUI Tests and Your Rights

Under Pennsylvania's implied consent laws, a person who has a driver's license automatically agrees to submit to BAC testing if requested by a law enforcement officer. You are still within your rights to refuse a chemical test. However, if you do, the Pennsylvania Department of Public Transportation will suspend your driver's license immediately.

Exemptions and Expungement

In Pennsylvania, successfully completing the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program generally allows a person to have their DUI charges dismissed and expunged after filing the necessary paperwork with the court. Other possible exemptions and expungement include:

  • Employment Exemption: Under certain circumstances, drivers who have obtained an ignition interlock device may be allowed to operate employer-owned vehicles, but only within the course and scope of their employment.
  • Occupational Limited Licenses (OLL): In addition, first-time DUI offenders may be eligible for an Occupational Limited License after serving 60 days of their suspension. 
  • Expungement: According to section 1543 of the Vehicle Code, PennDOT will automatically expunge ARD records after 10 years provided that:
    • The person wasn't a commercial driver at the time of the arrest
    • The person didn't become a habitual offender (a person convicted of three major violations within a five-year period)

Work with a Knowledgeable DUI Defense Attorney

Defending yourself against DUI charges without the proper guidance or legal representation from a knowledgeable DUI defense attorney can potentially increase your risks of getting convicted and receiving the maximum punishment. If convicted, you could be facing a lengthy prison time, huge fines, license suspension, and other social consequences. Therefore, when facing DUI charges, it is paramount that you hire a highly-skilled Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney immediately to help protect your rights and build your defense.

For more than 20 years, I have been handling DUI cases and defending clients who were wrongfully accused of drunk driving. As an experienced Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney, I will review every detail of your case, conduct a thorough investigation, and outline an effective defense strategy in pursuit of the best possible outcome in your case. I will fight aggressively to defend your rights, protect your driving privileges, and improve your chances of a better future.

DUI Defense Attorney Serving Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Facing drunk driving charges can be a scary experience. Thankfully, you don't have to face these DUI charges alone. Contact me at The Law Offices of John Della Rocca today to schedule a case assessment and put my extensive legal experience and knowledge on your side. I'm proud to serve individuals in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and across the surrounding areas of Delaware County, Montgomery County, and in New Jersey.