Legal Updates

DUI: First Offense / Highest Tier – Possible Defenses

Driving Under the Influence: First Offense / Highest Tier is a very serious offense in the State of Pennsylvania.  Defendants facing this charge are looking at a mandatory minimum sentence that will affect their future and their finances for years.

DUI: First Offense / Highest Tier is a charge that affects anyone arrested for DUI who; 1.) has not had a DUI in PA in at least 10 years; and 2.) has a Blood Alcohol Content of .16 or higher.  The same penalties are reserved for defendants charged with DUI of a controlled substance, and DUI after refusing testing.  The mandatory minimum penalties are stiff and include:

  • 72 consecutive hours minimum imprisonment
  • $1,000-$5,000 fine
  • 12 Month License Suspension
  • Attend Alcohol and Highway Safety School
  • Comprehensive Drug and Alcohol (CRN) Evaluation
  • Drug and Alcohol Assessment as a Condition of Sentencing

A good DUI lawyer knows how to mitigate or entirely obviate these penalties in some cases.  My full blog will more comprehensively address these opportunities, but let me state them here briefly.  They include:

  • Disposition of Not Guilty at Trial 
  • Disputing Whether Defendant Operated The Vehicle
  • Disputing Reliability of Chemical Test Results
  • Motion to Suppress For Lack of Reasonable Suspicion or Probable Cause
  • Disputing Timeliness in Obtaining Chemical Test Results 
  • Petition For Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program (ARD)
  • Disputing Jurisdiction for the Officer to Effectuate the Stop

There are other less common defenses that may be utilized based on the particular facts of your situation.  Of course, not all defenses are applicable in all cases.  Some cases are particularly difficult and do not present an easy defense. This is why a good DUI lawyer is so important to your case.

It is important to note that not all defenses are equal.  I am an active member in the legal community of  While I am a big fan of Avvo, sometimes I am disturbed by other lawyers readiness to recommend ARD before even reviewing the particular facts of the case.  ARD is not equal to a dismissal of the case or disposition of Not Guilty in any DUI Offense.  It is undeniably a second tier solution to a complex and difficult situation.  I am not saying that defendants should not accept the ARD program.  It is a good option for many people who made a mistake and want to move on with their lives.  But there are high costs to accepting this program, which may include temporary license suspensions, fines, and time consuming classes.  The best option is always dismissal or Not Guilty.

It is important that you consult with an attorney about the best options available in your case.  My office offers free consultations to Philadelphia citizens facing DUI charges.  I will lay out the options you have and discuss the best choices you can make moving forward.  

DUI First Offense / Highest Tier is very serious business.  Don’t automatically settle for ARD because it keeps you out of jail.  The first thing to do is to pick up the phone and call a lawyer who specializes in getting the best possible results.  

The stakes are simply too high to do anything else.