DUI Defense Lawyers Erie PA | If you've been arrested for DUI, you need an experienced Erie DUI Defense Lawyer to help you keep your license and avoid jail time!

If you are facing DUI Charges, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced DUI lawyer from The Travis Law Firm immediately. If this is the first time you have been in legal trouble, you need to know your rights – your freedom depends on it.

Every DUI defense attorney at our law firm understands the most current PA DUI laws and knows how to get you the best possible outcome for your case.

The Top 5 Questions to Ask A PA DUI Lawyer

1. What kind of experience do you have defending DUI charges?

Remember, you are hiring your DUI lawyer just like you would hire an employee, so this is a bit of an interview. Ask this question to any DUI defense lawyer at The Travis Law Firm & you will be very happy with the answer. We have extensive experience fighting Pennsylvania DUI charges, because we do it all the time. Our DUI attorneys know what tactics the Prosecutor will try in order to harm your case, and how to counter those attacks.

2. What Kind of Track Record Do You Have Defending Pennsylvania DUI Cases?

Ask about how many cases your DUI lawyer has had that resulted in charges being dropped, or the accused keeping their driver’s license. Ask about fines being reduced, or avoiding jail time. You’ll be glad to know that The Travis Law Firm is proud of the reputation we have earned as DUI Defense lawyers who don’t back down from a fight.

3. What Options Do I Have?

The DUI laws in Pennsylvania are extremely complex, and as a result, you may have quite a few options available to you. Each one has it’s own inherent advantages and pitfalls, so be sure to discuss how your DUI lawyer thinks your case might unfold. There are alternatives to serving jail time, and we may be able to negotiate a lesser penalty for you.

4. How Strong Is My DUI Case?

Your DUI lawyer will analyze your case based upon the evidence that the Prosecutor has against you. Our goal is to find a weakness in the Prosecutor’s case, or find a way to strengthen your chances for a plea bargain. We are going to take the extra time to find the best possible outcome for your situation based upon the facts and evidence provided. See our DUI Case Tips for more information.

5. How Much Am I Going To Have To Pay A DUI Defense Lawyer?

If your income prevents you from being assigned a public defender, yet you don’t feel like you can afford a DUI lawyer, talk to us. We have affordable flat fee arrangements that we can discuss during your consultation. 

Our Most Important Advice To YOUHire the best PA DUI Lawyer to handle your case. Your future and your freedom depend upon your representation. Get the best lawyer you can afford.

How Can An Attorney Help You With DUI Charges?

The Travis Law Firm has helped thousands of individuals charged with a DUI in Erie, Edinboro and Warren, PA. We know that police officers can and do make mistakes. The evidence may not be accurate, or may have been tainted if not properly administered. We review all the evidence given and, if possible, the videotape of the arrest, to help us build a stronger case for your defense. The stronger your defense, the more likely you are to receive a reduced penalty or even dismissal of your DUI charge. The true cost of a DUI conviction in PA is much higher than most people realize. Get the legal defense you deserve.

Experienced DUI Defense handling the following matters:

  • Alcohol DUI
  • Marijuana DUI
  • Underage DUI
  • Non Prescription Drugs DUI
  • Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD)
DUI Chart June 2019

If you've been charged with a DUI or criminal offense, you're probably wanting to stay out of jail, avoid having a criminal record, and to minimize financial and other consequences.

Don’t Panic If You Are Stopped for a DUI

If you are pulled over for a DUI, don’t panic. Follow our instructions How to Handle a Traffic Stop in Pennsylvania. You are not required to state where you were before the traffic stop (i.e. you don’t have to tell the police officer you were at a party).

Being arrested for a DUI does not mean that you are guilty of the DUI. There could be one or more defenses to your drunk driving charge that could lessen the charge or result in a complete dismissal.

Consulting a DUI attorney in Northwestern Pennsylvania is the best way to protect your legal rights. You have the right to an attorney. Exercise your right to remain silent except for asking for a DUI defense lawyer.

How to Handle a Traffic Stop in Pennsylvania

Pull over as soon as safely possible when a police officer signals for you to pull over. Place both hands on the steering wheel and do not make any sudden movements. At night, turning on the light inside your car can help the officer determine that you are not an immediate threat. Until the officer requests that you move, keep your hands on the steering wheel and have passengers place hands on the dash or headrest in front of them.

When the officer asks for your name, registration, and proof of insurance, you need to provide this information. Move slowly and do not put your hands into any enclosed area without asking the officer first. However, if the officer asks if you know why you were stopped or if you have been drinking, you are not required to answer his questions. You should be polite and respectful when stating you do not know or you do not want to answer the question.

If the officer requests that you exit the vehicle, you must do so. In Pennsylvania v. Mimms (1977) and Maryland v. Wilson (1997), the U.S. Supreme Court held that an officer could require the driver and any passengers to exit the vehicle during a traffic stop. Do NOT exit the vehicle until asked to do so by a law enforcement officer. Exiting the vehicle before you are told to do so can be interpreted as a threat and the situation can escalate. An officer must have reasonable cause to pull you over for a traffic offense; however, this is not the time to argue with the officer. Leave this to your criminal defense attorney.

The officer may pat you down and he may search your vehicle. You do not have to consent to this search. You can refuse the search, but the officer may still conduct the search. Your best choice is to remain silent except for providing the basic information. Again, you should be polite and respectful when stating you would rather have your attorney present before answering questions.

What Should You Do During A DUI Stop?

1. Try to remain calm. A DUI stop is not an arrest.

Do not make any sudden movements. It is best to keep your driver’s license and proof of insurance within easy reach so that you do not need to fumble for these documents. Place your hands on the steering wheel and wait for the officer to come to your window and give you instructions.

2. Listen to the officer carefully and follow his instructions.

Treating an officer with respect and common courtesy will make the traffic stop easier for you and the officer. If you become hostile and rude, your attitude could make the officer more suspicious and confirm the officer’s personal belief that you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

3. Do not make statements or answer questions that would incriminate yourself.

You are required to provide your name, proof of insurance, and driver’s license. You are not required to say whether you have had anything to drink, how much you have had to drink, where you are coming from, or where you are going.

4. If you have been drinking

It may be best to tell the officer politely and respectfully that you have been advised not to answer any questions.

Officers who believe they have probable cause for a DUI stop are probably not going to be swayed either way by your refusal to answer questions

5. You can refuse to take field sobriety tests

But, you are likely to be arrested because an officer may see your refusal as an admission of guilt.

However, if you have been drinking, taking the field sobriety tests may give officers additional evidence against you. Whether you should refuse field sobriety tests, blood tests, or breathalyzers is a complicated matter. Your refusal could be used against you, and you can lose your driver’s license for refusing chemical testing once you are taken into custody.

One of the best things you can do to protect your legal rights is to call an Erie DUI attorney as soon as possible after being arrested for DUI. An attorney can advise you of your legal rights and discuss how you should proceed. The sooner you have an experienced DUI attorney helping you with your case, the better chance you have of achieving the best possible outcome in your case.

dui defense lawyers Erie PA

Can I Receive A DUI Ticket In An Erie Parking Lot?

It is common knowledge that driving under the influence is strictly enforced throughout Pennsylvania. If you operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, you can expect law enforcement officers to issue a DUI ticket if you are caught. A conviction on a DUI charge can range from substantial fines and loss of driving privileges to prison, ignition interlock devices, and other penalties. What some people may be surprised to learn is that they might face the same DUI penalties if they are convicted of a DUI charge that occurred in a Pennsylvania parking lot.

Can I Be Charged With DUI For Riding A Bicycle?

Many people use alternative methods of transportation in Pennsylvania other than a passenger motor vehicle or public transportation. You will see people riding bicycles, scooters, and even skateboards to get to where they need to go, especially around Pennsylvania colleges and universities. Many people are walking to work in order to save money and improve health. In the country, you’re likely to see the Amish using their horses and buggies.

Unfortunately, many of these people think nothing of using an alternative mode of transportation after having a few alcoholic drinks. After all, they’re not driving a motor vehicle, so they think they are safe. What they fail to realize is how Pennsylvania’s DUI laws are worded.

Any Method of Transportation

In the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, a vehicle is defined as anything which can transport a person, which would include a bicycle and Amish buggy. Even though these vehicles don’t have motors and no driver’s license is required to operate these vehicles, in some situations they are viewed in the same manner as a car. A charge of driving under the influence or DUI is one of these situations.

For example, Pennsylvania State Troopers stopped an Amish buggy because the passengers were riding on top of the buggy. The officers found over 20 cans and bottles of beer in the buggy, some were open containers. All passengers were under 20 years of age and the driver was 18 years of age. The driver was arrested and charged with driving under the influence. While most people may not immediately think of an Amish buggy as being a “vehicle,” the DUI statute applies to the buggy as it does for all other vehicles, including bicycles.

Therefore, if you are riding your bicycle and you are weaving or displaying other signs of being impaired by alcohol, an officer can pull you over. If the officer finds probable cause, he can charge you with DUI.

What Happens When You Drive Under the Influence?

Regardless of the mode of transportation, you may be charged with DUI if you have consumed alcohol and then operated any type of vehicle. The legal limit for DUI in Pennsylvania is .08; however, if you are under the age of 21 years, the legal limit is .02. The potential punishment for a DUI conviction is a fine, time in jail, and suspension of your driver’s license. The length of jail time and the amount of the fine varies depending on the specific facts of your case and whether you have any prior DUI convictions.

A DUI conviction also results in a permanent criminal history. This could have a significant impact on your ability to get into the college of your choice. Furthermore, a DUI conviction can also impact your ability to get the job that you desire, especially if you will be required to drive as part of your job or you are required to obtain a license.

Proving You are Guilty of DUI Charges

The first step our Erie DUI defense team takes when handling a drunk driving charge or DUI ticket is to investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding a DUI stop thoroughly. We take that step regardless of whether the DUI stop occurred in a parking lot, rural road, or busy city street. We want to determine if the prosecution has sufficient evidence to prove DUI charges, but we also want to determine if we have evidence to establish on or more valid defenses to the drunk driving charge.

The prosecution must prove all legal elements required to establish that you are guilty of driving under the influence before obtaining a guilty verdict for a DUI ticket. In most DUI cases, the prosecution must prove that you were operating a motor vehicle on a highway or traffic way while under the influence of alcohol.

Police officers focus on proving that the driver’s BAC (blood alcohol content) exceeded the legal limit of .08 for drunk driving. They also focus on other evidence from the DUI stop to prove that the driver’s ability to operate the motor vehicle was impaired, such as the results of standardized field sobriety tests.

Next, the state must prove that you were operating a motor vehicle on a highway or traffic way. However, what do the terms “operating” and “traffic way” encompass? What if you were sitting in a parking lot with the motor running or driving through a fast-food restaurant’s pick up window? Can you be arrested for DUI?

Broad Definitions of Trafficways and Operating Can Lead to Surprising DUI Arrests?

The courts have interpreted traffic ways to be roads or areas that are accessible to the public, including parking garages and parking lots. Therefore, you could be charged with DUI if the police determine you were intoxicated while driving in the parking lot, drive-thru lane, or public street.

Likewise, the courts have given a board definition to the meaning of “operating” within the DUI statutes. Driving is often defined as “operating a vehicle.” However, operating a vehicle may also apply to an individual who has actual physical control of the vehicle. Therefore, you do not need to be in a moving vehicle to be charged with DUI.

If you are sitting in the driver’s seat of a parked vehicle with the engine running, you might face a DUI charge. Likewise, if the engine is off, but the keys are in the ignition, you could be charged with drunk driving. If you can reasonably cause the vehicle to move, you are in control of the operation of the vehicle and may be charged with DUI if you are drunk.

In other words, if you pull over in a parking lot to “sober up,” you could be charged with DUI in certain cases. The specific DUI ticket may depend on the factors at the scene.

The statutes and case laws vary. Some parking lots or other private areas may not meet all the standards to be considered a traffic way. Likewise, the circumstances and facts of the case may prove that the individual charged with DUI was not “operating” or “in control” of the vehicle at the time of the arrest. It is important to allow an experienced Erie DUI attorney to investigate the matter and analyze current statutes and case law to determine if the arrest was legal.

Being charged with a DUI offense in Pennsylvania is not the same as being convicted of drunk driving. You are not guilty of DUI until the state proves each required legal element related to the DUI charge. Therefore, it is in your best interest to contact an Erie DUI attorney right now.

There could be one or more “holes” or weaknesses in the state’s case that you can use to have the DUI charge dismissed. If not, an experienced PA DUI attorney may leverage the weaknesses to reduce DUI charges or negotiate a more favorable plea deal. Until you meet with an experienced Northwestern Pennsylvania DUI attorney, you do not know what options you might have to resolve your drunk driving charge.

After You Are Arrested for a DUI in Pennsylvania

We understand that you have a lot of questions after a PA DUI arrest, and that’s why we have this section. While we cannot possibly cover every concern, we do cover a lot of topics concerning your best DUI defense. Please use the simple menu below to find the information you are looking for, and remember, we always offer a free, confidential consultation to discuss your legal rights.

What Happens After I Am Arrested For DUI?

Being arrested for DUI can be frightening, especially if this is your first experience with the judicial system. We encourage you to exercise your constitutional rights to remain silent and contact a lawyer. The steps you take after a DUI arrest could have a huge impact on the outcome of your case.

DUI cases involve different circumstances. Those circumstances may dictate additional steps in the DUI process. However, most individuals who are arrested for drunk driving can expect their case to involve the following seven stages:

1. Preliminary Hearings

The purpose of a preliminary hearing is to confirm whether there was probable cause for your arrest. The state must prove that a crime was committed, and you are the most likely suspect for committing the crime. You may waive this hearing; however, that is typically a mistake. Your Edinboro DUI attorney may have the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses. The testimony and information from the preliminary hearing can be used later in your case. Therefore, contact our office immediately so that we can appear at the preliminary hearing with you.

2. Arraignment

An arraignment occurs within one to two months after your arrest.  You may not need to attend the arraignment if an attorney represents you. Your attorney can appear at the hearing for you and advise you of your rights and legal options without the necessity of taking another day off work or school to attend a hearing.

3. Pre-Trail Conferences

If the court in which your case is heard utilizes pre-trial conferences, your attorney will attend the conference to discuss the case with the prosecutor assigned to your case. Your attorney may discuss plea deals and other issues to help determine your best strategies for resolving the drunk driving charge.

4. Suppression Hearings

Within 30 days of your arraignment, we must file a suppression motion if we believe your constitutional rights were violated. The court may find that some or all of the evidence against you should be suppressed if your constitutional rights were violated.

5. Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition ( ARD )

The ARD program is a good option for some people because they do not serve any jail time and they may be able to expunge their record. ARD can also shorten the driver’s license suspension in your case. Your attorney reviews your case to determine if you are eligible for ARD. If you are eligible, your Edinboro DUI attorney explains the program, including the advantages and any disadvantages for you.

6. Trial

If your case is not settled or dismissed, your case will move to a trial. You may or may not be entitled to a jury trial, depending on the DUI charges. Your attorney discusses the pros and cons of going to trial to help you decide what is in your best interest.

7. Verdict and Sentencing

After a plea bargain is achieved or a guilty verdict is rendered at trial, the judge imposes your sentence. You could face one or more penalties for a drunk driving conviction. The penalties depend on the facts of your case. Common penalties imposed in DUI cases include fines, jail time, suspension of driving privileges, home detention, ignition interlock devices, and community service.

Five Reasons You Need an Erie DUI Defense Attorney Right Now!

1. You have been charged with a crime.

Drunk driving is a crime. It is not just a traffic ticket with an expensive fine. You could go to jail if you are found guilty of drunk driving. When facing any criminal charge, talking to a criminal defense attorney immediately is the best first step you can take to protect yourself. You need to understand your legal rights, the charges pending against you, and the consequences of a guilty verdict. Don’t underestimate the seriousness of a DUI charge.

2. You could lose your driving privileges.

A DUI conviction can result in the loss of driving privileges for several years, depending on the DUI offense you are facing. Losing your driver’s license is more than an inconvenience. For some individuals, losing their driver’s license could result in losing their job. Even if your job does not require you to drive a vehicle each day, how will you get to work without driving? Do you have reliable transportation to and from work for the next year, two years, or longer? How will you take care of yourself and your family if you cannot drive?

3. The cost of hiring a DUI attorney may be less than the cost of a DUI conviction.

In addition to jail time and driving suspension, you also face substantial fines if you are convicted of drunk driving. Also, your automobile insurance premiums increase with a DUI conviction. Hiring an experienced Erie DUI defense lawyer could be less costly in the long run than trying to handle a drunk driving charge yourself. It is at least worth taking advantage of the free consultation to discuss your case with an attorney before making a decision.

4. Your legal rights might have been violated.

Every individual is entitled to certain rights. If you do not talk with a lawyer, you might not be aware that your legal rights were violated before, during, or after a DUI stop. If the police violated your legal rights, your DUI charge could be dismissed. Our DUI defense lawyer understands DUI laws and rules regarding traffic stops, field sobriety tests, and BAC testing procedures. We thoroughly investigate your case to determine if your legal rights were violated during any phase of your DUI arrest.

5. A DUI defense attorney understands the system and the process.

There are hundreds of laws, procedures, and rules that must be followed regarding a DUI charge. A mistake on your part could result in a guilty verdict or a conviction, even though your DUI ticket should be dismissed, or the DUI charge reduced based on the evidence and facts in your case. If you do not understand the system and the process, you could miss the opportunity to get out of a DUI ticket. Hiring an experienced DUI attorney in Erie ensures that nothing is left to chance. Your attorney takes care of every aspect of your DUI case so that you do not need to worry about making a costly mistake or error in defending yourself.

What are the Fees for a DUI Defense Attorney?

We Offer Reasonable, Flat Fees

When you talk to a PA DUI Lawyer at our firm, we will tell you about the fees involved. We understand that paying for an attorney is an unplanned expense, so we offer a flat rate fee to help you budget for this.

Our law office accepts cash or checks. You may be interested to know that we also gladly accept payment by credit card, for your convenience.

What Happens in the Free DUI Case Review?

Regardless, your initial consultation is absolutely free. You will learn vital information about your legal rights at no risk to you. After we talk, you are not obligated in any way to hire us. If you are not completely convinced that we can help you with your PA DUI charges, we will not trouble you again and you will owe us nothing.

We have seen people defend themselves without legal assistance, but the risk is great, and we are talking about your freedom here. Penalties for DUI can be harsh and legal representation can soften the blow by getting your penalties reduced.

Passengers and DUI-Related Charges in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania laws define impaired driving as driving, operating, or being in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle after consuming enough alcohol to impair the person’s ability to operate the vehicle safely. A person may also be guilty of drunk driving if the person has a BAC of .08 or higher.

Since a passenger typically does not have control of the vehicle, a passenger who is intoxicated may not be guilty of DUI under this definition. However, there are several DUI-related charges that a passenger may be charged with under certain circumstances. Some examples of DUI-related charges a passenger might face include:

Reckless Endangerment

A passenger could be charged with reckless endangerment if the passenger knowingly allowed an intoxicated person to operate the vehicle. If the passenger was not sober or capable of driving, reckless endangerment might not apply. However, being drunk and allowing another drunk person to operate your vehicle may not be sufficient reason to avoid a reckless endangerment charge.

Open Container Law and Underage Drinking

A passenger could be charged with having an open container of alcohol in the vehicle. If a person in the vehicle under 21 years of age is intoxicated, a passenger may also be charged with providing alcohol to a minor.

Switching Seats

If a sober passenger switch seats with a drunk driver to help the driver avoid a DUI charge, the passenger could be charged with several crimes. For example, providing fault information to a police officer may be appropriate if the passenger claims to have been driving immediately before the DUI stop. Even though a passenger may not face DUI-related charges in this case, criminal charges of any type can carry unwanted consequences

Interfering with the Safe Operation of the Vehicle

A passenger who is intoxicated can be charged with DUI-related charges if he or she interferes with the vehicle’s operation. Along with DUI, the passenger could face a variety of criminal charges, especially if the interference results in a DUI accident.

2019 Changes in PA Drunk Driving Laws

Penalties for Driving with a Suspended License for DUI

Unfortunately, many individuals continue to drive even after their driver’s license is suspended for DUI. Lawmakers sought to give more “teeth” to the charges of driving with a suspended license for a DUI by increasing the penalties. Under the new law, you can be sentenced to at least 90 days in jail and fined up to $1,000 for a second offense. A third offense could carry six months in jail and a $2,500 file.

Repeat DUI Offenders Now Face a Felony Charge

Under the old law, DUI charges were misdemeanors. Now, a third-offense DUI with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .16 or higher is a felony. A fourth offense DUI is a felony regardless of the BAC level.

DUI Vehicular Homicide Carries Higher Penalties

The penalties for an individual who causes the death of another person while driving under the influence increases if the individual has prior DUI convictions. The old law carried a maximum penalty of three years in prison. Under the new law, anyone with a prior DUI conviction will be sentenced to a minimum of five years in prison for a DUI vehicular homicide conviction. If the person has two or more prior DUI convictions, the minimum prison sentence increases to seven years.

Contact DUI Defense Lawyers Erie PA

If you or someone you know is charged for a DUI, the attorneys at The Travis Law Firm can help. The laws in DUI are extremely complicated, and you should not face the legal system alone. Contact us today for a no charge free consultation with Attorney Grant C. Travis today.

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