Chester County Felony DUI Attorney

In 2017, a reported 293 people were killed in alcohol-related vehicle accidents in Pennsylvania. This represents approximately 26% of all traffic fatalities for that year. State and local law enforcement agencies have been increasing efforts to prevent and deter motorists from driving under influence by using traffic checkpoint stops and saturated area patrols. Here in Chester County in 2017, there were 15 accident fatalities that involved alcohol, which represents over a 60% increase from the prior year. The chart below summarizes the statewide fatalities. 

Drivers

Drinking Drivers

Non-Drinking Drivers

Passengers

Passengers With Drinking Driver

204

176

22

36

29

What Constitutes Driving Under the Influence in Pennsylvania?

In 2003, Pennsylvania joined what is now a standard nationwide in adopting a threshold for when a driver is deemed to be under the influence of alcohol. A blood or breath test is generally used to measure a driver's blood alcohol content (BAC). The legal limit for alcohol is .08%. Drivers are required to submit to chemical testing when a member of law enforcement suspects they may be intoxicated.

How “Drugged Driving” Arrests Have Surged

Driving while impaired by the influence of drugs has been a growing concern as laws regarding marijuana usage have been changing and the widespread abuse of prescription opioids. Testing for alcohol is a much easier and more established practice by conducting a simple breath test. Testing for drugs is more challenging because it requires a blood test. Law enforcement agencies have been training more officers in detecting drug use, known as drug recognition.

Driving Under the Influence of Controlled Substance Provisions

  • Drivers are prohibited from operating a vehicle with a Schedule I controlled substance in their blood
  • Schedule I substances are those not currently acceptable for medical purposes and are likely to be abused
  • Examples of Schedule I drugs include heroin, peyote, and “ecstasy”
  • Drivers are prohibited from operating a vehicle with a Schedule II or III substance in their blood unless it is prescribed by a physician
  • Common Schedule II drugs include oxycodone and morphine and Schedule III include codeine and ketamine
  • It also prohibits driving while under the influence of a “solvent or noxious substance” outlined in 18 Pa.C.S.

When Does a DUI Become a Potential Felony Offense?

Under Pennsylvania law, the vast majority of DUI offenses are charged as misdemeanors—even for repeat offenders. A DUI offense transitions to a felony offense if the impaired driver creates an accident that results in someone being severely injured or killed. Aggravated assault by vehicle is a second-degree felony and involves causing a serious bodily injury.

Homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence occurs when an impaired driver accidentally causes a fatality. This charge is also a second-degree felony offense; however, it may be enhanced to a first-degree felony if the offender has a prior DUI or similar type of conviction.  First-degree felony offenses are very serious and punishable by a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

Experienced Legal Representation for Felony DUI Charges

If you have been arrested for a DUI, there are increasingly harsh penalties that may be imposed. When someone involved in the accident was seriously injured or killed, the charges may be upgraded to a felony offense. Joseph D. Lento is a defense attorney who has years of experience in this realm of legal practice. Make the call to (888) 535-3686 today for an evaluation of your case.

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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania and New Jersey attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations – the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Berks, Lancaster, Lehigh, and Northampton County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, Outside of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance is educational advice, and does not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.

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