Getting accused of a DUI is likely one of the most stressful, troubling things in your life. But in many cases, teaching yourself about the law and preparing yourself for legal action will save a great deal of hassle in the courtroom. Protect yourself. Knowing about Pennsylvania DUI law is of paramount importance when it comes to protecting your record, your reputation and your wallet. So when those red and blue lights begin flashing in your rear view, don’t panic-take a deep breath and act smart.
DO Remain Calm
Most mistakes surrounding a DUI are made in haste and panic. Take a deep breath. Even if convicted, your life is far from over, but a clear and level head will help you minimize or even eliminate the negative effects of a charge. During your traffic stop, be respectful to the police officer and remain silent. Remember your rights-anything additional you say can be used against you in court, so keep any comments inside your head. If you are in fact charged, expert legal representation is available to help put your mind at ease. Seek out the best DUI attorney in Harrisburg and your chances of reducing the charge or sentence will suddenly increase.
DO Know the Law
In Pennsylvania-from Philadelphia to Erie, Pittsburgh to Scranton, it is illegal to drive with an open alcohol container in the vehicle, no matter what the driver’s BAC. Before you step into the car, know your limits-even if you feel perfectly in control, you would be surprised how little it takes to register on the breathalyzer. If you are convicted of your first offense at the General Impairment Tier (BAC from .08-.099%), then you will receive up to six months of probation and a fine up to $300-assuming you are of legal age and haven’t caused any property damage or injury. The penalties rise drastically from there and your best bet is to avoid a charge altogether by avoiding drinking and driving altogether.
DON’T Incriminate Yourself
Your social media page maybe your best friend, but when charged with DUI, it can also be your worst enemy. If potential employers can search your profiles before they hire you, then opposing attorneys can certainly do the same. Even the most innocuous pictures online can be framed and taken out of context to negatively color your character when in court. Take your pictures and posts down from your page and your friends pages. It may be time-consuming and tedious, but it will be much worse if it is used against you in court.
DO Protect Yourself
As soon as you can safely do so, record everything that occurred surrounding your charge. Where you were, who you were with, what part of the road you pulled over on-any and all details from your point of view can help corroborate your case when pleading not guilty. Whether you were simply driving I-80 from Philly to Pittsburgh, or visiting friends at Penn State for a long football weekend, the details are important. Find those who were with you the night of the incident to act as witnesses in your trial and try to help prove your innocence.
DON’T Be Foolish
Failing to hire a lawyer in a DUI case can be a very costly mistake. Do not be foolish. The law is complicated, but even the most educated citizens do not carry the same respect in a courtroom. The difference between walking into court alone and walking in with the best DUI attorney in Harrisburg is massive. Lawyer fees may be intimidating, but in most cases, they are drastically lesser than what you will pay if convicted-court costs, penalties, fines, traffic school, loss of license, raised insurance rates and missed time from work. Not to mention the lifelong effect that a DUI charge has on your permanent record. It’s not worth the risk. DO be smart. DON’T panic. DON’T get convicted of a DUI.
Published on behalf of Sarah H, a DUI attorney in PA who enjoys writing blog posts on the weekends about the in’s and out’s of the practice.