Cost Of Pennsylvania DUI Conviction
When a driver is stopped by a law enforcement officer on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs, the last thing on his or her mind is likely to be how much an attorney is going to cost to provide defense in the case. After the officer examines the driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance, checks the driver to signs of committing a DUI such as slurred speech or bloodshot eyes, requests that the driver take field sobriety tests and breath tests to determine the blood alcohol content (BAC) and an arrest is made, it begins to sink in that the arrest has the potential to cost a lot of money in the present and future.
Costs of a DUI conviction
In Pennsylvania there are varying costs for a DUI conviction due to the tiered levels of charges for the infraction. There may be fines from the General Impairment Level of a BAC between 0.08% to 0.099% for $300 to the Highest Level of Impairment at 0.16% BAC or having driven after using drugs for as much as $10,000.
This is in addition to the driver running the risk of jail time when he or she won’t be able to work and might in fact lose their job, the cost of having an Ignition Interlock Device installed on the vehicle, and fees for treatment and classes to learn the dangers of committing a DUI.
None of this is free and the costs come down to the driver. What a driver facing these penalties must consider is how much it will cost to go without a Pennsylvania attorney and hope for the best in a trial.
How much can a Pennsylvania DUI attorney cost and is it worth it?
The average cost nationwide for a DUI charge with everything factored in can vary. However, some people have reported that they’ve paid $5,000 and even as much as $7,000 to $10,000. Again, it depends on the charges, the fines that the infraction will cost in the event of a conviction and the other costs that a person might not consider initially but can add up to a vast amount of money and long-term consequences.
An attorney might seem to be a luxury when the case is relatively cut-and-dried. There’s an argument to be made that it’s not worth it to pay an attorney when the driver is charged with a first offense DUI if it’s under a General Impairment Level of 0.08% and 0.099%. Because the penalties are relatively innocuous with an ungraded misdemeanor, a fine of $300, no driver’s license suspension, six months of probation, and the requirement to attend alcohol education courses and court-ordered treatment, some might think it’s worth it to accept the punishment and move on. If the driver has no intention of getting caught in a DUI again, the aftereffects are not that terrible.
That said, if the driver gets caught again committing a DUI, then they’re going to have to start facing harsh penalties such as a suspended driver’s license for one year or more, jail time, fines that can reach $10,000 in the most severe instances, and the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device to the vehicle.
What an attorney does
A qualified DUI attorney will handle the case from beginning to end and might be able to secure a plea bargain, a dismissal of the charges or an acquittal. Most laypeople are not aware of how to handle a legal case such as a DUI trial and if they choose to go without an attorney, they’re more than likely going to be convicted. An attorney can search for reasons that the law enforcement officer might have made a mistake such as failing to have reasonable cause to make the traffic stop, not observing the driver for twenty consecutive minutes prior to giving the breath test to determine BAC, failing to use a patrol car dashboard camera if one was available, not having a machine that is certified to be in working order, not having permits to give the test, and many other errors that a driver might not consider but could be used to force the prosecutor to dismiss the charges.
In addition, there are available programs such as ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition) that might be open to certain first time offenders and can erase the charge from ever having happened if the program is completed successfully.
In short, while it may be a money and time-saving decision to go forward without an attorney when charged with DUI in Pennsylvania, the costs might be exponentially increased over the long-term if there was a chance to have the charges dismissed or win an acquittal and the driver chose to go without legal advice.
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