Last year, Governor Wolf signed a bill into law that requires those who are convicted of driving with a BAC of .10 percent or higher to install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles, even for a first offense. However, the law also gives many DUI offenders who would have had their licenses suspended under the prior law, the option to keep their licenses. The new laws will go into effect in August, 2017 and will have a substantial impact on many defendants who are charged with DUIs, so if you have questions about how the new law could affect you, it is critical to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can address your concerns.
Under Pennsylvania’s previous DUI laws, courts were not permitted to order an offender to obtain and install an ignition interlock device in his or her vehicle for a first offense. However, a first time offender would also automatically receive a one year license suspension if his or her BAC was above .10 percent. Once the new law goes into effect, these rules will no longer be applicable and any motorist convicted of driving under the influence will be required to install an ignition interlock device for at least a year.
Changes Under the New Law
Ignition interlock devices require drivers to blow into a tube that measures their BAC. If the test reveals that a driver’s BAC is higher than the preprogrammed limit, the car will not start. Although this may seem like a more severe penalty than those imposed under the previous law, it actually allows offenders more freedom. For example, drivers who submit proof to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation that they obtained an ignition interlock device can avoid the mandatory one year license suspension. The law also allows defendants being charged with a second or subsequent offense to apply for an ignition interlock device after serving a portion of their license suspension and so regain their license privileges. For instance, a person convicted of driving under the influence who received an 18 month license suspension could apply for an ignition interlock device after serving nine months of the suspension. If approved, the defendant’s suspension would be lifted for the amount of time remaining on their suspension.
Finally, first time offenders who are accepted into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program will not be required to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles. ARD is a pre-trial intervention program that requires participants to complete a period of probation, pay all necessary fees and court costs, and attend classes. Those who successfully complete the ARD program will have their case dismissed and their arrest record expunged.
Call Today to Speak With a Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney
To learn more about the effects of the new DUI laws or to have your case evaluated by an experienced criminal defense attorney, please contact van der Veen, Hartshorn and Levin at (215) 486-0123 today. A member of our legal team can also be reached via live chat.