First Time DUI in Pennsylvania
Being charged with driving under the influence (DUI) for the first time is a very upsetting and frightening experience. Most drivers in Cambria and Allegheny County are law-abiding residents who simply failed to realize that they were too impaired to drive safely. It can happen to anyone. State and local police are on constant watch for any kind of unusual behavior on the roads, and will occasionally set up DUI checkpoints to search for suspects.
If you or a loved one are facing charges in PA, you should consult with Tibbott & Richardson right away. A criminal defense lawyer experienced in DUI cases can provide you with a clear path to resolution, and get you the most favorable results in court. Contrary to popular belief, or what police may have told you; there are many possible defenses allowed under the law that can (and have) successfully fought against drunk driving charges.
Grading of Charges
A first offense DUI is an ungraded misdemeanor in the Commonwealth.* That means that if you decide to take your case to trial, you do not have the right to a jury trial, rather you have a right to a bench trial (trial before a judge). You will want to have a local attorney who has been practicing before the judges and magistrates that will decide your case’s outcome. This is true even if your case does not go to trial. As you can read below, the prosecution (district attorneys and police) can also play a vital role specific to first offenders, and you will need a lawyer who knows how local law enforcement operate in DUI matters.
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*If your first DUI involved a passenger under the age of 18 years old, then your offense will be graded as a misdemeanor in the first degree, or M1, and your case will qualify for trial by jury.
|BAC Tier||Jail Time||License Suspension||Fine|
|.08 to .099||Up to 6 mo. Probation||—||$300|
|.10 to .159||2 days to 6 months||1 year||$500 – $5,000|
|.16 or higher||3 days to 6 months||1 year||$1,000 – $5,000|
*Completion of Alcohol Safety School is required for all convictions regardless of which tier you are charged with.
Pennsylvania uses a 3-tier system based on blood alcohol content – or BAC, in determining sentences. The higher your blood alcohol as found by chemical testing, the tougher the mandatory minimums and penalties you face.
In addition to the above penalties, a judge may also order an alcohol and drug evaluation, and depending upon the results, further require completion of an alcohol or drug abuse program.
ARD for 1st DUI Offense
If this is your first time being accused of drunk driving, then you may qualify for a unique alternative sentencing program in PA called alternative rehabilitative disposition, or ARD. Under the program, 1st offenders can essentially bypass the criminal prosecution of the offense by entering into an agreement with the prosecution and the court. If you complete all of the requirements under the ARD agreement, then you will be able to expunge the DUI charges from your public record and will not have the misdemeanor that would have been recorded were you found guilty. ARD can also significantly lessen the license suspension time for those who may be found guilty at the 2nd or 3rd BAC tier.
Please visit our ARD page for more information on the ARD program offered in Allegheny and Cambria Counties.
The best outcome for a 1st DUI offense is to have the case dismissed, and/or all charges dropped. This is the first option we will explore with you upon consultation. You should be aware of all of the options available to you in your case, and understand which resolution to pursue and how to obtain it. We can help.
Call us now for a free initial consultation to discuss your case. We are specifically trained to represent DUI offenses in Allegheny, Cambria and Indiana Counties. Let us clearly explain the legal process to you along with all of your options during a free case evaluation. Pittsburgh: 412-690-0225 or Ebensburg: 814-419-6440.
Tibbott & Richardson Client Testimonials
Versatile and Professional
I can't say that I have ever really enjoyed working with lawyers until I met Beth. Normally, the process is drawn out, confusing and overall exhausting. Beth was the complete opposite of what I have dealt with in the past. Though she specializes in criminal law, she was able to work around what I needed and made sure the entire experience was painless. I heard about Beth Tibbott from two separate people who have used her services before, and though my need for an attorney was not based in criminal law, she was able to work on my project professionally, timely, intelligently and diligently. I am very pleased with all she has done for me and my clients, and I will certainly be using her services again in the future. I stand behind her because she stood behind me when my clients and I needed her the most. Thanks Beth!Dominic
I hired Ms. Richardson to help me set up my new business and to make sure that I was following all of the necessary state and local guidelines. In addition to walking me through the process and explaining everything, she also took the time to provide a small business law primer to me. She makes sure her clients are knowledgeable, not just blindly following her lead.Kathrin
Attorneys Tibbott and Richardson are by far the best attorneys I've worked with. I trusted Beth and her partner Dana Richardson to take care of my federal criminal issue and they did so with results that exceeded my expectations. They return calls and emails and are honest about what to expect. The federal prosecutor lobbied heavily to have me detained pending trial and although it was a long shot, they were successful in securing my bond and I was out pending trial.A Criminal Defense Client
Two Thumbs Up
I worked with Beth on a couple of projects related to business development, and must say, I was extremely impressed. The thing about Beth that really stood out to me was her calm, yet confident demeanor. When reviewing different contracts and items of discussion, she took her time to absorb the material before sharing your opinion on the matter, which is something I believe many professionals don't do.Jeff
I hired Beth and her partner, Dana, a number of times. They were very informative and gave me all of the facts I needed to make the decision that would work best for me. They are professional, but also friendly and compassionate. I had the unfortunate experience to have my mother pass away shortly after one of our meetings. Within two hours, I had received a very sincere condolence call from both Beth and Dana. They could have sent a note, but they took time out of their busy schedule to make the call and offer their sympathies. It meant more to me than I can say. I have worked with other lawyers previously, but Beth and Dana will be my first choice from now on.Donna
Beyond Job Description
Beth Tibbott goes above and beyond what most attorneys do. The communication between client and council is always ongoing. She is super knowledgeable on so many levels that it is almost scary. Beth will not sugar coat anything and will explain every scenario that can play out in court. Beth is a true "whats best for her clients" attorney.Robert
I’m Glad I Found Her
I highly recommend Beth Tibbott. She's very personable, knowledgeable and is a joy to talk to. She's is what you look for in an attorney. Especially with my crazy life.Stephen
Beth Tibbott was a wonderful lawyer! I had many issues with my previous landlord and was unaware of how to handle them. Beth answered all of my questions, while at the same time thoroughly explaining to me everything that she was doing. I was informed throughout the entire process. Thanks to Beth, all of my issues are completely resolved. I could not have asked for a better experience!Alex