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FAQ’s About DUI In Pennsylvania


The following list contains some of the most common questions about DUI in Pennsylvania and provides some of the answers you’ll need to make the smartest decisions to protect your driver’s license, your future, and your liberty.

Will I Lose My Driver’s License??
If you are convicted of DUI in any category other than a First Offense at the Tier One-General Impairment level (BAC.099% or below), you will lose your license for at least 12 months.
Will I Go To Jail?
A DUI conviction in any category other than a First Offense at the Tier One-General Impairment level (BAC.099% or below) will result in mandatory jail time ranging from 3 days to 60 months depending on your BAC, prior record, driver’s license type, and whether your case involves an injury, accident, or death.
How Long Does A DUI Stay On My Record?
A DUI is a misdemeanor in PA and a conviction will be noted on your permanent, public criminal record. It will remain there forever and can be seen by anyone who checks your background (e.g. employers, loan officers, insurance companies, etc.). All criminal convictions in Pennsylvania are accessible to the public for free on the internet. Virtually anybody can find out.
What Is A Nolo Contendere Plea And Will The Court Accept One?
A Nolo Contendere, or No Contest plea, is the functional equivalent of pleading guilty, without what is called ‘allocution.’ That is a fancy way of saying you accept the punishment of conviction, without admitting you were at fault. Despite the fact that you are not technically admitting guilt, you will be convicted of DUI and face the same penalties. It is rarely afforded in DUI cases.
If I Have A Drunk Driving Conviction In Another State, Will It Show Up Along With A DUI Charge In PA?
Maybe. In most cases it WILL show up on your criminal history record information, IF the District Attorney does a background check through the National Crime Information Center and the Interstate Identification Indexes. It will not necessarily show up on your PA Driver Abstract, but it may. I have seen cases where a person’s DUI conviction in another state did not show up, and they were subsequently treated as a first offender in PA. It is rare, but it does, and has happened.
If I Am Arrested For DUI In Pennsylvania, But I Am Licensed To Drive In Another State, Will I Be Charged In PA Or My Home State?
You will be charged in Pennsylvania where you were stopped for suspicion of Driving Under the Influence. You will need to return to Pennsylvania for all of your court dates, and will need a Pennsylvania attorney. If your home state, where you hold your driver’s license from is a party to the Interstate Driver License Compact, then Pennsylvania will notify your home state’s Dept. of Transportation, and you will receive the same driver’s license suspension from your home state that you would have received had you been a licensed driver in PA. The Driver License compact is an interstate compact among 45 states and the District of Columbia. Only Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Tennessee are not members.
Do I Need A DUI Attorney For A Preliminary Hearing If I Just Want To Go To Trial?
Yes. An attorney can help negotiate to get your case dismissed before you even get started, or have the charges reduced before trial. An experienced attorney can learn a great deal about your case while having a hearing before the discovery process. If you obtain a transcript of the officers and witnesses testimony at this hearing, you can “lock them in” to their version of events to impeach them with their words later if they change their story when or if you have to go to trial.
I Refused The Breath Test During My Arrest. What Does That Mean?
You will be charged in the Third and highest impairment tier and face the harshest penalties allowed under the law. But it also means they don’t have a BAC to use against you.
Will I Get A Harsher Sentence If I Go To Trial And Am Convicted?
It depends. While DUI penalty ranges in PA are the same whether you plead guilty immediately or go to trial, some Judges will penalize you if you go to trial, especially if they think you are wasting their time by doing so. So while they usually won’t go above the minimum mandatory jail sentences, they CAN. The minimum is just that, a minimum. The extent to which they can go above the minimums is limited, however.
Should I Go To Driving School Now?
No. You shouldn’t do anything until you consult with an experienced, qualified Pennsylvania DUI attorney. This will ensure that your rights are protected at every step in the process.
How Much Will This All Cost?
The cost of an experienced, qualified DUI attorney is often less than the cost of pleading guilty when you consider the fines, traffic school, loss of license, increased insurance rates, and time lost from work. Without an attorney, no one is going to watch out for you to see you don’t get taken advantage of. See our article “What will a DUI cost me?” for more.
If I Fight The Case And Lose, Will I Get My Legal Fees Back?
No. Criminal cases are not the same as personal injury cases where “we don’t get paid unless we get you money.” The Supreme Court which governs lawyer conduct for the Pennsylvania Bar prohibits contingency fees, where the lawyer gets a percentage of the recovery, for criminal cases such as DUI. In a criminal case you are paying the lawyer to be your advocate, and to work in your best interest. No lawyer can guarantee you a specific result in any case.
Does Is Really Matter Who I Hire? Aren’t All DUI Lawyers The Same?
No, all lawyers are NOT the same. Far from it. Attorney Bompadre is a DUI specialist, with years of courtroom trial experience and advanced training in all aspects of DUI law. He has the knowledge and experience necessary to defend you.
How Can I Contact You?
Attorney Bompadre is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 752-063-5797. Contact us today for your free case evaluation and put Pennsylvania’s most experienced DUI lawyer to work for you.

Have you got a DUI question that is not answered here? Contact Bompadre Law for an honest answer from one of Pennsylvania’s most highly-trained and experienced DUI lawyers.

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