Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance

by John Waldron, Esq.

 What If It Happens to Me?

Say you are out to dinner on a Friday night with a couple of friends…You have a few glasses of wine before driving home…Good idea? Probably not! With roving DUI patrols, sobriety checkpoints and aggressive local law enforcement, chances are at some point in time you will be stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence. Unfortunately, the number of driving under the influence arrests in Pennsylvania has become staggering. The Lehigh Valley is no exception.

So what do you do if you are stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence? First and foremost, remain silent by not providing any information that may make your situation worse. Pay attention to the arresting Officer regarding any mandatory procedures that may have punitive consequences should you not follow his or her directions (e.g., Blood Draw)

Once you are released from the custody of Law Enforcement, a Criminal Complaint will be sent to you within 7 to 10 days. Within that period, I suggest that you contact legal counsel for a consultation. In all honesty, in certain driving under the influence situations, you may only need a consultation. In most arrest cases, you will need to retain legal counsel to represent you. It is crucial that you seek counsel that is well versed in driving under the influence law. It is also important that you obtain counsel that you feel comfortable with, and that will listen to you and return your phone calls promptly. Remember, you are going to have to make some important decisions based on your attorney’s advice, so you need someone you can trust.

Upon receipt of your criminal complaint, you will also receive a date for your Preliminary Hearing. In addition, you will receive a notification of when the deadline is for the taking of your fingerprints and photo. The Preliminary Hearing is a determination as to whether or not there is probable cause for your arrest. At the time of the Preliminary Hearing, bail is set in your case. Moreover, at the time of your Preliminary Hearing, you are provided with a future court date for the final resolution of your DUI offense.

The final resolution of your case can involve ATD-probation, house arrest, work release or jail time. In the alternative, you may seek a jury or non-jury trial for your Driving Under the Influence case. DUI charges can also include highway safe driving classes, drug and alcohol evaluation and treatment, license suspensions,  costs and fines, and other conditions imposed by the court as part of your sentence.

Euripides of Ancient Greece once said, “it is a wise man who stays home when he’s drunk.” That quotation rings true to the present day. Going out to have a drink…whether it be at a restaurant, at a tavern or a sporting event, it is best to use a designated driver, public transportation or a taxi…in the long run, it is cheaper and safer than a DUI.

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