If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Pennsylvania, you may be hoping you can pay a fine and it will all blow over. After all, there is no minimum jail time for a first offense and no license suspension as long as you submitted to a chemical test of your blood alcohol level. You might even think that going to court with a lawyer will somehow make you look guilty and unrepentant, so you may decide it’s a better plan to go to court on your own and show a little contrition, relying on the mercy of the court. Unfortunately, that overly optimistic approach could create serious future consequences.

First, you would be conceding a conviction for a first-time DUI, which may not be necessary depending on the facts of your case. With your conviction, you can expect higher insurance premiums for a very long time, raising the financial consequences of your DUI to thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars over your lifetime. Plus, that DUI remains on your record for 10 years to trigger enhanced penalties for any subsequent DUI convictions.

DUI Attorney Somerset, PA

So, if you don’t fight the first DUI, and you happen to get a second DUI within ten years, you face the following consequences:

  • Five days to six months in jail
  • Fines and penalties of $300 to $2,500
  • License suspension of 12 months

In addition, you can expect even higher insurance premiums when you regain your license. That is, if a company will insure you at all. If you get a third DUI within the 10-year look-back period, you face:

  • 10 days to two years in jail
  • Fines and penalties of $500 to $5,000
  • License suspension of 12 months

That third DUI can also prevent you from purchasing a firearm in Pennsylvania, since one of the disqualifying factors on an application is whether you were ever convicted of a crime for which you could have been sentenced to two years of jail. You might only get the minimum 10 days, but the law relies on what “could have happened,” not what actually did happen. So, if in the future, you apply for a firearm, you could unintentionally commit a felony.

Naturally, the best strategy is to not drink and drive. But having made the mistake once, it’s entirely possible you might make that mistake again. Now is the time to minimize the consequences for your first offense and for the future. Only an experienced criminal defense attorney can give you the aggressive DUI defense representation you need.

Matthew R. Zatko, Attorney at Law handles DUI, misdemeanor, and felony cases in the Somerset, PA area. Call 814-443-1631or contact my office online to schedule a consultation.