Pittsburgh DUI Attorney
I Got a DUI Charge. Now What?
It’s sinking in. You’ve been arrested for Driving Under the Influence, and you don’t know what lies ahead.
The good news is that you’ve taken the first step to managing your situation: you’re doing the research into DUI, and just as importantly the research into DUI Defense Attorneys, ignoring the “Ads” and looking for the best qualified defense lawyer to guide you through this process to accomplish the best possible outcome.
A D.U.I. prosecution is a multi-step legal process, and you can benefit in a variety of ways by having a qualified DUI Defense Lawyer represent you as early in the process as possible. In other words, you should not try to navigate these steps on your own.
If you’re not sure where you are in the process, the following guide, or “Stages of Prosecution” will define what each step is, and what happens.
Stages Of Prosecution
Following a vehicle stop, Field Sobriety Tests and chemical testing of breath or blood, a DUI prosecution can begin with handcuffs and processing through the Allegheny County Jail. Or you can be released from custody and the prosecution can begin by the mailing of official paperwork in the form of a Summons.
You will 1) receive a copy of the charging document, the “Police Criminal Complaint”; 2) a Magisterial District Judge will set your “Bond” to assure your appearance at all the following steps in the prosecution process; and 3) you will be notified of the date of the next step, the Preliminary Hearing. Regarding the Bond, you can simply be released on your promise to appear at all future Court hearings (R.O.R.), or a monetary Bond can be set that you will be required to post before you can be released from Jail.
The first Court hearing where evidence is presented, witnesses testify, and argument made by your lawyer, perhaps even for dismissal of the prosecution. This Hearing can be also be “Waived” in order to proceed to trial in exchange for amendments to the charges.
In Allegheny County, this step is usually administrative wherein additional paperwork is received and application for “Discovery” is made. However, if Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (A.R.D.) is an option in your case, this deal can be concluded at this stage.
In Allegheny County, you and your attorney appear in the trial courtroom and select a trial date in the case. In addition, this is a first opportunity for your lawyer to meet with the District Attorney assigned to your case in order to discuss charges and possible Plea Bargains.
The time at which your D.U.I. prosecution is resolved on the basis of a Jury Trial, Non-Jury Trial or negotiated Guilty Plea.
Sentences in D.U.I. prosecutions are to a significant extend determined by the Pennsylvania legislature in the form of “mandatory minimum” sentences. You can see what your sentence will be by looking at the D.U.I. Sentencing Matrix by looking for the number D.U.I. You receive your sentence as set by the judge.
Pittsburgh & Allegheny County DUI Defense Attorney
Good people can make unfortunate choices. This is Attorney Joseph Paletta, and I have helped literally hundreds of clients charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) for over 25 years. Please take advantage of my offer of a free consultation before making any final decisions about your case, including the decision of which lawyer to hire for your defense.
Just because some lawyers advertise effectively does not mean that they have the experience, skills, knowledge, and training that are needed to identify all defenses available and win a DUI case at trial, or to negotiate a sentence minimizing the penalty. Countless attorneys say they can handle DUI cases, but only a very small percentage really know what they’re doing.
If you or anybody you know has been charged with Driving Under the Influence in Pittsburgh or Allegheny County, feel free to contact me. Attorney Joseph Paletta can be reached at Joseph@PalettaLaw.com or (412) 391-7999 for a free consultation.
Pennsylvania D.U.I. Offenses
It is a Misdemeanor violation of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code to drive under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances, including prescription medications. Furthermore, a person can be charged with multiple violations of the Driving Under the Influence (DUI) statute (Title 75 Section 3802) at the same time. Attorney Joseph Paletta is a skilled Pittsburgh DUI Defense lawyer who has the knowledge and trial experience to handle any type of DUI charge you might face.
A DUI prosecution begins with a “stop” of a vehicle by Police. Most stops are considered to be a “seizure” in the eyes of the law, which means that Police must have a reason to stop a vehicle. This reason is typically called “Probable Cause,” and Probable Cause can be any Vehicle Code violation observed by Police such as speeding, failure to use a turn signal, expired registration, weaving in or out of a lane, windows tinted too dark, etc. Once Probable Cause is observed and a vehicle is pulled over, Police will then look for indications of alcohol or drugs by an individual’s breath, speech, coordination, etc.
The following information lists the variety of DUI crimes and degrees of impairment that can be charged under the DUI statute (Title 75, Chapter 38 Driving After Imbibing Alcohol or Utilizing Drugs) depending upon the specific facts of your case:
A person may not drive a vehicle after drinking alcohol to the extent that the person is not capable of safe driving. Police are trained to look for signs that a driver may be impaired by alcohol or drugs, and will make the decision to charge based upon observations, Field Sobriety Testing (FST) and sometimes a Portable Breath Test (PBT). In addition, a driver is also subject to this offense if the alcohol content in blood or breath is at least 0.08% but less than 0.10% within two hours after driving.
If you are driving with an alcohol concentration in your blood or breath of at least 0.10% but less than 0.16% within two hours after driving, you are subject to a high rate of alcohol charge.
If you are driving with an alcohol concentration in your blood or breath of 0.16% or higher within two hours after driving, you are subject to the highest impairment charge.
A person may not drive if under the influence of a drug or combination of drugs, or a combination of drugs and alcohol to a degree “which impairs the individual’s ability to safely drive”
A minor may not drive under the influence of alcohol if the amount of alcohol in the minor’s blood or breath is 0.02% or higher within two hours after driving.
If you are interested in reading the entire statute, you may do so by reading our blog with it here.
When you are charged with DUI, your freedom, employment, and money are on the line, so do not hesitate to contact Attorney Paletta at (412) 391-7999 or by emailing Joseph@PalettaLaw.com for a free initial case assessment to determine what options you have. Depending on the facts of your particular case, your options may include defenses to the DUI, or a defense to the stop, or the option of a pre-trial diversion program. You can read about the many cases in which Attorney Paletta has achieved Not Guilty verdicts in DUI trials, and achieved the suppression of evidence due to an unlawful stop or seizure which caused the dismissal of DUI charges.