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What happens after a DUI arrest in Pennsylvania?

You probably are very nervous and unsure following your first DUI arrest. You may wonder how it will affect your life and if it is possible to avoid the consequences. It may seem unfair for you to have to face such serious penalties for one stupid mistake you will never make again.

The two things you have control over at this point are hiring a criminal defense attorney and knowing what to expect following your arrest so you can be prepared.

Legal proceedings

Unless your case is serious, the police will likely release you soon after taking you into custody because your arrest did not include a warrant and you pose no immediate threat to anyone once you are sober. However, that does not mean you are off the hook. If the officer files a complaint against you within five days of your release, you will receive a summons in the mail to appear in court for an arraignment, which will determine if there is a case against you that needs to go to trial.

Possible defenses

This initial hearing determines what direction your case will go next. If it leads to a DUI conviction, there will be serious consequences for your future. Therefore, you need a qualified lawyer to prevent this situation or reduce its effects. Some of the ways your attorney may do this include:

  • Determining if there was probable cause for the traffic stop
  • Cross-examining the officer(s) who arrested you
  • Challenging breathalyzer, field sobriety or blood test results
  • Avoiding jail time by getting you into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition

ARD is a year-long program in Pennsylvania that requires you to perform community service and take safe driving and/or alcohol awareness classes. In addition, your license suspension will not last as long as it would under a conviction. This option is important because it prevents a conviction and jail time and may lead to a completely clean record through an expungement of your arrest.

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