Serving clients in Pittsburgh, PA
Getting arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) can be a stressful and frightening experience. However, the arrest is just the start of a lengthy process that can potentially have very serious consequences on many aspects of your life. If convicted, you may face harsh penalties that include jail time, hefty fines and a suspension of your driver’s license.
The biggest misconception people have about being charged with a DUI is that there is no defense. There are a lot of potential defense strategies, but you need to work with an attorney who understands the science behind DUI cases and who will work with the proper experts to review your case in order to identify areas where the state is falling short. It’s really important for you to understand that there is hope.
Former Pennsylvania State Police Attorney Mike Sherman has over 31 years of experience handling all types of DUI cases, and he will fight aggressively to ensure you receive the best possible outcome to your case. You can learn about your legal rights and options by speaking with Mike in person.
Don’t delay this important appointment. Mike can’t begin investigating your case and crafting your defense strategy until he knows the details of your DUI arrest. Please call 412-471-5000 today to schedule a complimentary consultation. We serve clients in the Pittsburgh, PA area.
- How Is a DUI Defined in Pennsylvania?
- Pennsylvania DUI Laws
- DUI Penalties
- Additional Consequences of a DUI
- Felony DUI Offenses
- Defending Your DUI Case
- Cost of DUI Legal Defense Representation
- Why Choose Mike Sherman
- Contact our Pittsburgh DUI Defense Attorney
How Is a DUI Defined in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, a DUI is defined as a motorist who is driving, operating or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The state has to prove that a person is incapable of safe driving due to impairment by alcohol, illegal drugs or prescribed drugs. Because driving under the influence of drugs encompasses prescribed drugs, it’s becoming more and more common that people are being arrested for essentially taking their prescription medicine.
For additional information, please read our DUI FAQ page.
Pennsylvania DUI Laws
In Pennsylvania, it is unlawful to drive a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) over 0.08%. In addition to the standard legal limit of 0.08%, some groups of people may face a stricter legal limit:
- The unlawful BAC level for minors is 0.02%
- The unlawful BAC level for commercial truck drivers is 0.04%
In addition to having a BAC over the legal limit, you can potentially be charged with a DUI for one of the following reasons:
- Refusing to take a chemical test of your blood, breath or urine
- “General impairment” – A situation that may occur when the police allege that based on their observations, you were intoxicated enough that it made you incapable of safe driving
- You are under the influence of drugs (the term “drugs” is interpreted broadly and can apply to prescription and non-prescription drugs, illegal drugs and substances that create a hallucinogenic effect)
The Pennsylvania Department of Health has created a list of the minimum levels of controlled substances or metabolites that are considered to be unlawful. Since these levels are very low, it’s easy to wind up with a DUI charge even if you’re feeling no effect from drugs in your system.
The penalties for a DUI violation are based on your blood alcohol content level (BAC) and the number of prior DUI offenses you have. Pennsylvania has a tiered system of DUI penalties. That means that higher BAC’s and more prior offenses result in increasingly severe penalties. Refusing a chemical test may also lead to greater penalties.
It’s important to understand that a DUI conviction may result in a wide range of penalties which include:
- Jail time
- Driver’s license suspension (often you may not be eligible for a work license)
- CDL (commercial driver’s licenses) will be suspended for 1 year (first offense), 2 years (refusal of blood or breath test) or for life (second offense)
- Significant fines (typically costing thousands of dollars)
- Increased insurance rates
- Attending Alcohol Highway Safety School
- Ignition interlock device on your vehicle
Additional Consequences of a DUI
A DUI conviction is permanent. It cannot be expunged. This means you will have a criminal record for the rest of your life. This may result in far-reaching consequences that impact many different areas of your life:
- If you travel for business or pleasure, your travel may be restricted
- You can’t purchase or transfer a firearm if you are convicted of a second offense, highest tier DUI
- You may lose your job
- If you have a professional license, it may be impacted by a DUI conviction
- You may be denied admission to certain schools
- If your job requires a security clearance, this clearance may be revoked and you may lose your job as a result
- You may have to undergo treatment programs that are both time-consuming and expensive
- You may have to pay restitution if there is an accident
- It may affect your child custody situation in a divorce
- You may have difficulty renting a car
- It may damage your reputation
Due to the high stakes associated with a DUI conviction, it’s crucial that you work with an experienced DUI defense attorney who can ensure your rights are protected every step of the way. As a former attorney for the Pennsylvania State Police, Mike Sherman knows both sides of the law and he’ll use this knowledge to help you achieve the best possible outcome.
Felony DUI Offenses
On December 23, 2018, Pennsylvania’s DUI law was changed to make certain DUIs a felony offense. In order to be charged with a felony, you must meet specific circumstances established by the law.
Third DUI offenses within a ten-year period will be considered a felony if the driver:
- Had a minor under the age of 18 as a passenger in the vehicle
- Was under the influence of a controlled substance
- Refused to submit to a chemical test to determine their BAC
- Had a BAC of 0.16% or higher
In addition, if you have three DUI convictions in the past 10 years, your fourth and all subsequent DUI offenses will be charged as a felony. If you were ever convicted of a homicide by vehicle in the past, your DUI will also carry a felony charge.
For a felony DUI conviction, you will face the following penalties:
- 1-7 years in prison
- Fines up to $15,000
- 18-month driver’s license suspension
- One-year mandatory ignition interlock device in your vehicle
In addition to these penalties, a felony conviction can result in other consequences that impact many areas of your life:
- You can’t own or possess a gun
- You can’t go hunting
- You can’t vote
- You many not be able to travel to many foreign countries
- You can’t work at a school for 10 years
- You will be terminated from state employment
- You must notify the professional licensing board if you hold a professional license
- Your car insurance will increase or you may be denied coverage
- You may not be able to adopt children
- Your landlord may be able to evict you
- Your credit score may drop significantly
A felony will stay on your permanent criminal history forever. Anytime a criminal background check is done, your felony will show up. This can impact your life in so many ways. Therefore, it’s crucial that you work with an experienced DUI lawyer such as Mike Sherman.
Keep in mind that a DUI charge is not an automatic conviction. There are many ways Mike can challenge the matter in court. If you are facing a felony DUI charge, Mike will fight aggressively for your rights every step of the way to ensure you receive the best possible outcome.
Defending Your DUI Case
Being arrested for any reason can be very scary. It can also be confusing, especially if you are trying to navigate the world of Pennsylvania DUI law without an attorney. If you’re a first offender, you need to have someone who can help you:
- Fill out all of the proper forms
- Answer all your questions
- Make sure that you are properly prepared to appear in court
- Make sure that you understand the license suspension consequences
- Advise you regarding what to do when you are in court
Our office may be able to find a way of getting a reduction to the charges or a reduced license suspension. We may even be able to get some of the charges against you dropped.
Many DUI cases are not a lost cause. We know the difference between a hopeless case and one that has potential. There are often options that only an experienced DUI defense lawyer can tell you about, and we know when to pursue these possibilities. Questioning the evidence can bring important details to light.
- Were you actually driving at the time of the offense?
- Did the officer follow the proper legal procedure?
- Did the officer lawfully pull you over?
- Is there another explanation for the observations the police officer made?
- Were the tests of your breath or blood properly run?
- Do the physics of your accident support the theory that you caused it?
It may be possible to reduce your penalty by refuting the evidence against you. To do that, you need someone with expertise in your corner who knows the testing methods and the science, forensics, and medicine involved in DUI cases. Mike Sherman literally wrote the book on Pennsylvania DUI law, and he spent time working on cases for the Pennsylvania State Police. This expertise will give you the edge you need when you are facing such serious criminal charges and penalties.
Cost of DUI Legal Defense Representation
Most people are concerned about the cost of legal representation when they are facing a DUI charge. Without sitting down and discussing your case in depth, it is impossible to know how time consuming and complicated your case will be. For this reason, the cost of your case will be discussed only after we have a chance to thoroughly review it.
Our fees are based on:
- The charges against you
- The stage of the case
- The amount of work expected
We accept the following forms of payment:
- Money order
- All major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover)
We believe our fees are competitively priced considering that Mike Sherman:
- Has over 31 years of experience
- Is a former Pennsylvania State Police attorney
- Wrote a textbook on Pennsylvania DUI law
- Teaches other lawyers the latest DUI law and tactics
- Is the President and a founding member of the Pennsylvania Association of Drunk Driving Defense Attorneys.
When facing the extreme, harsh penalties of a DUI conviction, price is secondary to results. Keep in mind, you have only one opportunity to offer a defense. You have the rest of your life to make money. Look for a reasonable, predictable fee, not the lowest.
In order to keep fees fair and reasonable, we often break up payments by charging for the preliminary hearing first and then seeing where the case will go. That way, if going to trial or filing motions is not anticipated, you won’t have to pay for that level of representation.
Why Choose Mike Sherman
If you’ve been charged with a DUI-related offense, you may be feeling confused, anxious, or even ashamed. You’re not alone. Mike Sherman has represented hundreds of people facing similar situations. He understands that a DUI arrest doesn’t mean you have a drinking problem and that you may not have even been drunk. It can happen to anyone. We’re here to help you make the best of your situation and get things back to normal.
There are several important reasons why Mike Sherman is the right choice if you need to hire a DUI attorney in the Pittsburgh area:
- He knows the law – Mike Sherman knows Pennsylvania DUI law. He’s been a courtroom lawyer for over 30 years and writes the leading textbook on Pennsylvania DUI law. He also spent years on the other side as an attorney for the Pennsylvania State Police. Mike gives seminars, teaching other attorneys how to defend DUI cases. Very few attorneys in the Pittsburgh area can match Mike’s level of experience and expertise in the area of DUI law.
- He knows the science – DUI is based on science. If you have a lawyer that doesn’t understand the science, they aren’t going to know how to use this tool to effectively advocate on your behalf. They also won’t have the ability to fight the science being used against you.
- DUI is our focus – Nearly 100% of our firm’s cases are related to DUI. We aim for acquittals and when a total defense isn’t possible, we work to reduce the charges against you and minimize the negative impact on your life. Mike Sherman has the expertise to handle every detail of your case the right way, even if it requires the input of expert witnesses.
You won’t feel alone with Mike Sherman on your case. He’ll help you understand the process, the possibilities, and what to expect. He will be dedicated to your case and stand right with you in the courtroom. And he will fight for your best interests from start to finish, giving you the best shot at a positive outcome.
Contact our Pittsburgh DUI Defense Attorney
What is the Mike Sherman Difference?
Mike Sherman has unique experience and knowledge which he uses to protect his clients.
- Mike Sherman is a former attorney for the Pennsylvania State Police. He knows both sides of the law and uses that knowledge to benefit his clients.
- Mike Sherman wrote “the” Pennsylvania textbook on Pennsylvania DUI law, Driving Under the Influence Law and Practice.
- He uses a scientific method to investigate your case. Relying on his deep understanding of forensic science, he picks apart the evidence against you and looks for errors that he can challenge. He then carefully prepares your case with the goal of highlighting these issues and putting you in the best possible position.
If you are facing a serious charge, don’t delay. Call now to set up your free consultation at412-471-5000