What is the Criminal Court Procedure for a DUI in Pennsylvania?

If you or someone you love has been charged with DUI in Pennsylvania, there are probably many questions weighing on your mind.  What can you expect following an intoxicated driving arrest, and how will the case develop in the days to come?  This simple guide will break down the legal process to help give you a better understanding of how these matters typically unfold.

To speak confidentially with a Pennsylvania DUI lawyer, call the law offices of Young, Marr & Associates at (609) 755-3115 in New Jersey or (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania.  Your initial consultation is completely free of charge, so call right away to start exploring your legal options.

Drinking And Driving

What Happens After You Are Arrested for DUI in Philadelphia?

Step 1 : Arrest and Custody

Before we can enter a discussion about the legal process in greater Pennsylvania, it’s important to point out that Philadelphia takes a unique approach compared to other counties in the state.  Let’s begin by covering what will happen if you are located in Philadelphia.

First, arresting officers will typically bring their arrestees to the Philadelphia Police Department headquarters.  This is a building nicknamed “the Roundhouse,” located at 750 Race Street in Center City.

At this point, you are likely to be held in police custody for 18 to 36 hours.

Step 2: Setting Bail

Next, you will be brought before an official known as a bail commissioner, who will set your bail.

It’s very important to note that if you are released on bail, but do not make your scheduled court appearance later on in the process, you could be charged with failure to appear and be issued a bench warrant.  A bench warrant is just what it sounds like: a “warrant” for arrest, issued from the “bench” in court.  It is absolutely never a good idea to miss a court date.  Your legal issues will not disappear; they will simply become worse.

Step 3: Subpoena

Next, you will be given a subpoena to appear before the Criminal Justice Center, which is located in Center City.  A subpoena is simply a written order which requires its recipient to appear in court.  If you defy the subpoena and avoid your court date, you can be arrested with the bench warrant mentioned previously.

Typically, the subpoena will call for a court appearance 30 to 45 days after the initial arrest.

DUI Gavel 1024x683 - What is the Criminal Court Procedure for a  DUI in Pennsylvania?

What Happens After You Are Arrested for DUI in Pennsylvania?

Step 1: Summons

Many people are surprised to learn that most counties will simply notify you of the charges via a summons in the mail. This summons will generally take about two to three weeks to reach you.

In the counties, police officers will normally:

  1. Stop the offender.
  2. Give them the field test.  Standard “moves” approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) include standing on one leg, walking and turning, and an eye movement test called the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test.
  3. Give them the blood test.
  4. Book them at the county jail.

After being booked, offenders outside Philadelphia are not generally held in custody. Instead, they will either be driven home, or arrangements will be made for the person to receive a ride home.  Your summons will arrive several weeks later.

Judge sitting at table during court hearings on room background

What is the Court Procedure After a Pennsylvania DUI?

Step 1: Preliminary Hearing

First, you will have your preliminary hearing before the local District Justice.  This is an extremely important step, because it is an evidence hearing which will review the circumstances of your arrest and alleged offense.  It is absolutely critical that an attorney is present during the preliminary hearing, because this is when the defense has its first chance to review and dissect any evidence which may exist against you.

Step 2: Arraignment

Following the preliminary hearing, the next stage is typically an arraignment in the County Court, which is usually scheduled roughly 30 to 60 days later.  During your formal arraignment, you should receive a copy detailing the charges you will later face during trial, and be informed of your legal rights.  It is possible for your lawyer to waive the arraignment, meaning you will not have to be present.

Step 3: ARD or Trial

If you’re applying for the Pennsylvania ARD Program, the next step after arraignment is the review of your application.  If you are approved for participation in the program, you will not have to plead guilty, nor will you be convicted.  The charges against you will also be dropped.  But in order to qualify, you need to be a first-time offender whose incident did not result in death or any injuries.

If you apply, an ARD date should be set for 60 days later.

If you do not apply, you will be given a trial date.  During your trial, you will have the opportunity to either fight your charges, or plead guilty and be sentenced.  Be aware that the penalties for intoxicated driving can include several years behind bars, as well as thousands of dollars in assorted fees, and months or years of license suspension.

On average, the entire process takes about six months to unfold from start to finish.

The penalties you’re facing are harsh.  You need to protect your legal rights with an experienced, aggressive DUI defense attorney.  To schedule your completely free and confidential case evaluation, call the law offices of Young, Marr & Associates at (609) 755-3115 in New Jersey or (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania, or contact us online.

HOW WE CAN HELP

DUI DEFENSE

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DUI INFORMATION CENTER

Learn what to do if you have been stopped for DUI/DWI.

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ARD IN PENNSYLVANIA

If this is your first DUI offense, you may be eligible for ARD.

RESULTS

NO JAIL TIME

Commonwealth v. "H" (DUI case)

Client was charged with three separate DUI cases calling for mandatory minimum imprisonment of 90 days on each case. Client was advised to seek immediate intensive alcohol counseling. Client was sentenced to 1 year of house arrest after serving 3 days in the county prison.

CASE DISMISSED

Commonwealth v. "C" (Felony drug/Firearms case)

Client was charged with felony Delivery of drugs and illegal gun possession and was facing a mandatory 3-6 year prison sentence in the State prison system. Client was sentenced to one year of house arrest.

CASE DISMISSED

Commonwealth v. "S"

Client was charged with simple assault, domestic. After a hearing where evidence and testimony was presented, the entire case was dismissed by Judge Leonard Brown.

CASE DISMISSED

State of New Jersey v. "H"

Charges for young man charged with second degree aggravated assault were downgraded to third degree and he was accepted into the County Pretrial Intervention program with charges to be dismissed and record expunged after one year of misconduct free behavior.

OUR CRIMINAL DEFENSE TEAM INCLUDES TWO FORMER DISTRICT ATTORNEYS

We have decades of experience dealing with local police departments, prosecutors, and judges throughout southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Anyone facing charges involving a criminal offense can expect to experience a heightened degree of emotional turmoil, for themselves, as well as their family members. Our team of highly qualified criminal law attorneys and expert legal support staff are committed to providing each of our client’s with the compassion and understanding they deserve, as well as an aggressive plan for representation at an affordable price.

As former prosecutors, we have a balanced and in-depth understanding of the criminal justice system and how the prosecution prepares cases. In addition, we have long-standing experience dealing with local police departments, prosecutors and judges throughout southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

At Young, Marr and Associates, when we say “experience matters,” we mean it. Our lawyers, which include two former prosecutors and a former senior deputy district attorney bring more than three decades of criminal law experience, handling more than 10,000 criminal cases. It is precisely that experience that allows us to achieve outstanding results for our clients facing DUI, traffic, felony and misdemeanor charges in state, federal and juvenile courts.