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Guide to Philadelphia DUIs and Their Consequences

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A DUI conviction or even an allegation of drunk driving in Philadelphia can have devastating consequences on an individual's life and career. Suppose you have been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. In that case, you may be looking at severe consequences, including jail time, driver's license suspension, hefty fines, alcohol and drug classes, or probation. Follow the advice in this guide to Philadelphia DUIs and learn their consequences.

There are significant dangers and insurance consequences of DUI in Pennsylvania – Simply put, do not do it. Driving under the influence or a DUI can lead to thousands of dollars in fines, a suspended license, jail time, not to mention the damage that can be done when there is a DUI-fueled car accident. Still, it doesn't stop people from going out, drinking, or smoking to intoxication and still attempting to drive. DUI penalties will stick around for years after your DUI criminal charges. A DUI charge will undoubtedly harm your life and impact your car insurance rates. 

The decisions you make during this critical time can significantly impact your career and future and your personal life and financial situation.

What DUI Arrestees Should Do

If you have been arrested on suspicion of drunk driving in Philadelphia, there are several steps you can take to protect your rights.

  • First, find a safe place to pull over.

The officer who pulled you over will likely continue to watch your behavior closely, including how you drive, how you pull over, and how you act.

  • Be polite to the officer. Treat them respectfully.

If you are rude or hostile, an arrest is more likely. If the officer asks that you step out of the vehicle, you must comply. If you fail to do so, you could be charged with resisting arrest.

  • Don't answer any potentially incriminating questions.

You do have to give your name, license, and registration to the police officer. However, do not discuss details of where you were, if you were drinking or how much you've had to drink.

If you are concerned, you may incriminate yourself, apologize to the officer and ask for an attorney to be present. Do not make any inaccurate statements. If you don't know the answers to questions, say you don't know.

  • If the police officer asks you to take a field sobriety test, you have the right to decline.

Field sobriety tests are not reliable indicators of impairment. On the contrary, these tests can be highly subjective. You could also decline being tested by roadside Breathalyzers. Instead, our Philadelphia DUI lawyers advise individuals to take blood tests or chemical tests, which you must take at the police station.

  • Once you have been released, write down everything you remember.

Write down details such as what you were doing and where you were, how much you had to drink, how the officer behaved, what you told the officer, and if the officer read your Miranda rights. Then, contact an experienced DUI defense attorney who will fight for your rights.

Arrest Landmines You NEED to Avoid

When you are arrested on suspicion of a Philadelphia DUI, it is often a pretty stressful and traumatic experience. You probably don't know what to expect, which can easily make dumb mistakes that affect your future. Unfortunately, while you may be able to recover from some of these mistakes, you may not be able to recover from others.

Here are some of the common pitfalls you need to avoid:

  • Pleading guilty or assuming that your case can't be defended.

Many believe they must plead guilty if they have a bad breath, blood, or field sobriety test. This is not true. There may be several valid defenses. For example, the Breathalyzer may not have been properly calibrated, the blood sample may have been contaminated, and field sobriety checks are subjective.

  • Not showing up at court on your allocated court date.

Failure to appear in court can create more problems for you. It could even result in an arrest warrant being issued. So, keep track of dates and times for all court appearances.

  • Driving on a suspended driver's license after your arrest.

If you have been informed that your driver's license is suspended, do not drive until it has been reinstated. Driving with a suspended license could result in more charges and fines. It could also affect your DUI case when it goes to court.

  • Not speaking with a DUI defense lawyer.

One of the first steps you should take immediately after your arrest is to hire a knowledgeable DUI defense lawyer. Your attorney will be not only able to analyze all of the evidence in your case but also be able to build a solid defense strategy.

Philadelphia DUIs and Their Consequences

While most people are aware of the immediate effects of a DUI conviction, many still don't grasp the long-term repercussions. Here are some of the consequences that could haunt you for some time to come.

  • Career:

If your job involves driving, you may find yourself without a job if or when your employer sees a DUI on your record. Your permanent criminal record could also affect your future employment. Even a first-time DUI offense can significantly impact your ability to obtain specific jobs in the future. More and more employers are conducting criminal background checks. So, it is highly likely that employers may discover your DUI, which could prove to be a factor in a potential employer's decision to hire you.

  • Education:

If you have a DUI conviction on your record, it might also become challenging to get into college. Also, you may not be able to receive a professional license or certificate that you may require to do your job. Those who need rights include doctors, teachers, drivers, attorneys, etc.

  • Criminal background:

A DUI conviction, especially if it involved injury, child endangerment, or high blood alcohol concentration, maybe a felony in many states. That felony could remain on your record for a very long time or even permanently. You may not be able to get your DUI expunged even if it is a misdemeanor. Most employers conduct criminal background checks before hiring an employee. In addition, many volunteer organizations and landlords run background checks and will be able to see your DUI conviction.

If you are convicted of a felony DUI, you may lose your right to vote, buy a firearm or even get a passport. You may also lose eligibility to get government assistance in the future, including federal housing. In addition, if you are not a U.S. citizen, you could very likely face deportation.

  • Car insurance:

If you get convicted of a DUI, your driver's license could be suspended or revoked. To get your license reinstated, you will have to show evidence of auto insurance, which satisfies your state's minimum coverage. In addition, you may require an SR-22, a type of vehicle liability insurance document required by the state Department of Motor Vehicles for "high-risk" insurance policies. Unfortunately, insurance companies tend to charge convicted DUI offenders much more for coverage, and it could be several years before your rates are reduced again.

It all comes down to risk. If you have a history of DUIs, you're a hazardous person to insure from the auto insurance companies perspective. People who decide to drive while under the influence of alcohol and drugs certainly don't have the best judgment, leading them to be more likely to get into an accident that seriously injures someone and even may kill themselves or others. That's a risky proposition for any insurance company looking to consider taking on someone with a DUI.

When it comes to putting together their best policy or renewing your policy, your driving and state criminal records will be pulled and added to the data. If they still go ahead and decide to restore or create a policy with you, the rate you pay will be determined by the risk they take by insuring you. Their job is to look at how likely you might get into an accident based upon what they find in your record.

As previously stated, intoxicated driving is dangerous behavior. This type of behavior is a risk that auto insurance companies do not want, or at best, they will charge a significant premium for this type of driver – that means it will cost you a lot more money to get auto insurance after a DUI. In addition, the risk assessment will show an increased likelihood that a DUI driver will potentially be involved in an auto accident versus the average driver with no DUI on their record. 

How each insurance company decides to work around DUIs is really on a case-by-case basis, and it depends on the insurance company itself. They each have their own rules and policies regarding a potential customer who has a DUI conviction. Still, almost all of these companies will penalize you for a DUI and charge a higher premium for coverage.

Auto Insurance Company Rates

Auto insurance companies assess risk daily. Having a DUI on your driving record will subject you to penalties. If you are receiving a safe driver discount of any kind, getting a DUI will wipe it away. It doesn't matter if you've been with them for 30 years and have no record of an accident or previous concern. After a single DUI, insurance companies may consider you a serious risk on the road. Your rates may not increase right away, but only after your driving record is checked when it's time to renew your policy.

If you do get a DUI, many states in the country will require you to submit Form SR-22 to the DMV. This means you have to report the DUI to your insurance company, and the insurance company will send the form to the DMV. This will automatically alert the insurance company that you have a DUI on record. But it also lets the DMV know that you are still insured after you received a DUI conviction. Without it, you will not be allowed to reinstate your license. While Pennsylvania does not currently require an SR-22 form, if you move to Pennsylvania from out-of-state, you may be required to maintain the condition in the other state regardless.

Not all insurance companies offer SR-22 insurance to be sent to the DMV. If your insurance company doesn't, you might have to switch to a different company that provides it. Otherwise, you won't be able to get your license reinstated after your DUI conviction has it suspended temporarily.

A DUI charge and conviction can have severe consequences for a commercial licensed driver or CDL that are even worse than your average person with a regular driver's license. For example, in Pennsylvania, a CDL driver with a DUI can have their license suspended or wholly revoked – meaning they will lose their ability to earn a livelihood driving.

If you are driving for a rideshare service such as Uber or Lyft, a DUI can cause the service to revoke your ability to operate for them. Uber and Lyft have strict background check policies with a seven-year lookback policy regarding DUI on your driving record and will disqualify you from driving for their rideshare services. If you are involved in an automobile accident while an Uber driver has a DUI or Lyft driver has a DUI, there are specific insurance issues that you will need to address that are beyond the scope of this blog post.

Having Auto Insurance Coverage Denied

As previously stated above, it depends on the insurance company and what their policy is. If you're already with an insurance company, they may decide to terminate their coverage because you're too much of a risk to take. Other insurers might raise rates a little bit; other insurers raise these rates significantly. If you cannot renew or your insurance is terminated, you might have to look for a different company to cover you.

There are insurance companies out there who do take on high-risk drivers. Just like if you're a high credit risk trying to get a car loan, there are places that will do it, but only at a significantly higher price. This is for anyone that they would consider too high risk for a typical insurance plan or coverage.

Your Vehicle – Different Driver

Let's say you're a teenager and you're still under your parent's insurance and driving their vehicle when the DUI happens. This happens quite often as a lot of teenagers exhibit risky behavior. In this instance, your parent's car insurance premiums will likely go up. However, they might be able to lower their premiums in the future once they drop their child from their insurance policy.

This might be a different situation if an adult friend borrows your car and gets a DUI. If you have your insurance, your rates will go up, and possibly the owner of the vehicle's rates will go up. It goes back to potential risk, and if you borrow someone's car, it's your insurance that will cover any accidents that will happen, not your friends.

How to Lower Your Insurance Rates after a Philadelphia DUI

The good news is, your DUI won't stay on your record forever. If you just have one mistake, and that's it, the odds are good your premiums will return to normal in several years. Most states have a policy called "lookback," where insurance companies can only look back so far in your record. In Pennsylvania, the general lookback period is three years. That's an extended period, but at least there's some time for redemption. If you have no other issues and follow the law, your DUI will fall off, and your rate will go back to normal.

It depends on the state in which you live. Each state has different laws and guidelines about how long certain convictions can remain on your record. After so many years, a person's record should have the opportunity to be deleted entirely and sealed from view. You might even be unlucky enough to live in a state that doesn't allow for these types of convictions to be erased and might follow you around forever.

The moral of the story is you should never drive while intoxicated. It's not worth it as you'll spend the next several years of your life trying to rectify the situation. The cost of trying to get your life back in order will be immense.  

Experienced Attorneys On Your Side

Dealing with the repercussions of a DUI is an onerous burden to bear, but you'll get through it. Just don't make any silly decisions and be sure to seek out quality advice from people you trust.

Need to contact us now? 

Our law firm assists DUI defendants and can answer any questions you may have. Call us at (610) 660-7780 or fill out the contact form on this page for help.

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