A DUI arrest usually begins when a police officer either sees a traffic violation or is investigating a crash. A valid traffic violation gives the officer probable cause or reasonable suspicion to pull the driver over. If the officer smells alcohol on the driver’s breath or marijuana inside the vehicle, the officer will often ask the driver to perform field sobriety tests such as walk heel-to-toe and stand on one leg for 30 seconds. Based on the results of the tests, the officer may ask the driver to give a breath sample at the scene if there‘s a smell of alcohol. If the breath sample gives an alcohol reading or if the officer thinks the driver may be under the influence of a controlled substance, a blood test will be requested. If tests results show a blood alcohol level of .08% or higher or the presence of controlled substances like THC or opiates above the therapeutic level, DUI charges are filed.
If you’re being charged with a DUI, call Stroudsburg and Scranton DUI Attorney Robert J. Munley for a free, no obligation review of your case. Atty. Munley has successfully represented thousands of DUI drivers over the last 23 years and will answer all of your questions.First-Time DUI? Ask About ARD
Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition or ARD is a first offender’s program. The great benefit of ARD is that you can’t go to jail on this program, there is no conviction for a DUI, and the charges are dismissed and expunged when the program is completed. Also, the license suspension for an ARD is much less than for a conviction of a DUI.Who’s Eligible for ARD?
- no previous DUIs in the last 10 years.
- no previous misdemeanor or felony convictions in the past 10 years.
- no serious injuries to anyone .
- no children under 14 in the vehicle at the time of the DUI.
- 6 months probation.
- license suspension of 30 or 60 days. (No suspension if blood alcohol level is below .10%).
- (Drivers are eligible for ignition interlock licenses on ARD and there is no suspension if the blood alcohol level is below .10%.)
- CRN (Court Reporting Network evaluation.)
- Drug & Alcohol Assessment in most but not all cases.
- Alcohol Highway Safety School.
- Community Service (not required in Monroe County).
If you’ve received a 2nd or 3rd offense dui within the last 10 years, you’ll need to decide whether to fight your DUI or plead guilty and try to get into a house arrest program.House Arrest
If you’re facing a 2nd or 3rd offense DUI within 10 years, it’s sometimes possible to get a “house arrest” sentence instead of jail. On house arrest you live at home and you can go to work. You are monitored by an ankle bracelet which is a GPS device.Should You Fight Your DUI?
Our constitutional rights require that a police officer must have either “reasonable suspicion” or “probable cause” to pull a driver over. The officer must also have probable cause to request a blood test and to make an actual DUI arrest. Dash cam video (when available) will often show if the officer had the legal right to pull the driver over or to request a blood test.How to Fight a DUI- 3 Separate Ways
- Motion to Suppress Evidence (including blood test results)
Drivers have a constitutional right protecting them against illegal searches and seizures by law enforcement. DUI arrests can be challenged if there was a lack of probable cause to either: pull the driver over, request a blood test, or to make an arrest. The court will schedule a hearing once the Motion to Suppress is filed. The motion must be filed within 30 days of the arraignment.
- Motion for Writ of Habeas Corpus
The Commonwealth must prove at the preliminary hearing that a “prima facie” case has been presented. Prima facie means that at this stage in the proceedings it is more likely than not that the driver meets the definition of DUI. A Motion for Write of Habeas Corpus, just like a Motion to Suppress, must be filed within 30 days of the arraignment.
In order to be found guilty at trial of a DUI, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that either your blood content was above the legal level for alcohol or controlled substances or that you were unable to drive safely due to the alcohol or drugs consumed.
Not all DUI trials are heard by a jury. A judge will hear the case if the maximum sentence for the DUI is 6 months. A jury will hear the case if the maximum sentence is more that 6 months.DUIs are Classifed According to “Tiers” (Levels)
- Tier 1 blood alcohol level above .08% but below .10%.
- Tier 2 blood alcohol level between .10% and 159%.
- Tier 3 blood alcohol level.160% or greater, or the amount of controlled substances exceeds the therapeutic level, or the controlled substance is an illegal drug like marijuana or cocaine.
The penalties for a DUI are based primarily on 2 factors:
- What number DUI is this within the last 10 years? (eg. Is this a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd DUI?)
- Results of the blood test.
Examples: a 3rd DUI is more serious than a 2nd and a DUI with a blood alcohol level of .012% is less serious than when the blood sample contains cocaine or marijuana.Incarceration
All DUIs (accept with ARD) carry a mandatory minimum jail sentence based on the tier of the DUI and which number DUI it is within 10 years. The mandatory minimums range from 2 days to 1 year in jail (except when there is a death involved), and the maximum sentences range from 6 months to 7 years in prison. Incarceration can be served in a jail, house arrest, work release, and even sometimes in an inpatient facility depending on the particulars of the DUI. Most DUI offenders sentenced to jail serve their time in a county facility, but in the more serious cases the sentences are served in a state prison.License Suspensions
License suspensions vary according to whether you’re in the ARD program or if you were convicted of the DUI. The length of the suspension depends on which number DUI it is and the content of the blood sample.ARD License Suspensions
- BAC less than .10%: no suspension
- BAC greater than .99% but less than .16%: 30 day suspension
- BAC greater than .159% or a controlled substance DUI: 60 day suspension
- Drivers under 21: 90 day suspension
Suspensions are either 12 or 18 mos., followed by and additional 12 mos. of Ignition InterlockSuspension for Refusal of Blood Test
- 12 month suspension for 1st DUI
- 18 month suspension for 2nd DUI
- 1st DUI: 12 month CDL suspension (even if the driver gets into the ARD program and even if not driving a commercial vehicle).
- 2nd DUI: Lifetime CDL suspension (even if not driving a commercial vehicle).
Interlock licenses allow individuals with DUIs to drive legally during their suspensions. The ignition interlock is a device that is installed in the driver’s vehicle. The driver must be granted an Ignition Interlock Limited License by PennDot in order to drive legally while under a DUI suspended license. The driver must blow into the device to start the vehicle and must periodically blow into the device while operating the vehicle. The interlock detects alcohol on a driver’s breath. Even drivers with a drug-related DUI license suspension may be eligible for the interlock license.Interlock License While on ARD
Drivers on ARD can get an Ignition Interlock LicenseInterlock License for Non ARD Suspended Drivers
- 12 month license suspension: driver eligible for an interlock license after serving 6 months of the suspension.
- 18 month license suspension: driver eligible for an interlock license after serving 9 months of the suspension.
Some drivers charged with a DUI need professional help including inpatient rehabilitation. The length of a typical inpatient rehabilitation program can last up to 28 days. Some long-term inpatient programs take from several months to a year to complete.
The sentencing judge in a DUI has the authority to give credit for each day spent in an inpatient treatment program towards a sentence. For example: a person who spends 28 days in an inpatient rehab may be eligible for 28 days credit towards a jail sentence. In some cases, inpatient treatment can take the place of a jail sentence.
Atty. Munley and his staff work closely with several outstanding inpatient treatment facilities and can assist you in finding an appropriate placement. We also work closely with the many outpatient programs in Northeast Pennsylvania. In some cases we may be able to point you in the right direction to get funding for inpatient treatment.
Being charged with a DUI is overwhelming. We know you have questions that need to be answered now. Call Stroudsburg and Scranton DUI Attorney Robert J. Munley for a free analysis of your case and answers to all of your questions.