Tips for Handling a 3rd Offense DUI Arrest in Pittsburgh

Are you facing a 3rd Offense DUI in Pittsburgh or Western Pennsylvania? 

ARD for your 1st DUI. House arrest for your 2nd DUI. Now that you're facing your 3rd Offense DUI, you may be fearful about what to expect as far as your possible sentence and whether or not you can avoid going to prison. 

Handling a 3rd Offense DUI will require proactive behavior on your part to address any alcoholism or drug dependency issues you may have. It will also include securing the services of an experienced DUI Defense Attorney to help you navigate the legal pitfalls. 

Step 1: Does this count a 3rd Offense DUI? 

Some people make the mistake of assuming that their case will be treated as a 3rd offense when it is really a 2nd or 1st for sentencing purposes under Pennsylvania law. Under Pennsylvania law, a prior offense counts for sentencing purposes if your ARD acceptance or sentencing for your earlier offenses happened within 10 years prior to the date of your new charge.

For example, let's say an offender picks up a DUI in 2017. He had two prior DUI cases in 2006, where the offense date was more than 10 years ago. However, if he was sentenced on the two cases in 2008, then the 2017 case is a 3rd offense because the sentencing date (2008) was within 10 years of the new offense date (2017). 

Step 2: Learn about the penalties for a 3rd Offense DUI

A person charged with a third offense DUI faces the following penalties: 

  • Lowest Tier for General Impairment or for BAC from .08 to .099%: 2nd Degree Misdemeanor punishable by 10 day mandatory minimum jail sentence, maximum sentence of up to 2 years in jail, fines from $500 to $5,000, and a 12 month license suspension.

  • Middle Tier for DUI With Accident, BAC from .10 to .159%, or DUI for Minors: 1st Degree Misdemeanor punishable by 90 day mandatory minimum jail sentence, maximum sentence of up to 5 years in jail, fines from $1,500 to $10,000 and an 18 month license suspension.

  • Highest Tier for DUI with Drugs or with BAC of .16% or above: 3rd Degree Felony punishable by mandatory minimum of 1 year in jail, maximum sentence of up to 7 years in jail, fines from $2,500 to $15,000 and an 18 month license suspension.

Under Pennsylvania law, you CAN receive house arrest instead of incarceration for a 3rd offense DUI if your county has an applicable county intermediate punishment program and you are able to negotiate a plea agreement to house arrest. The judge will also need to accept the agreement, or sentence you to house arrest if no agreement is reached.

Step 3: Contact a Pittsburgh DUI Defense Attorney ASAP

You cannot handle this on your own, and should hire the best DUI lawyer you can afford. If you cannot afford representation, you should immediately contact the Public Defender's office in the county where you are facing criminal charges to obtain representation. If you have family and friends who can support you financially, now is the time to start reaching out to them about your monetary needs without discussing the details of your case. Case details should only be discussed with your DUI attorney. 

Who you choose to handle your 3rd DUI case is the most important decision you will make. There are several factors you should take into account when selecting an attorney for your case, which include: 

  1. Has the attorney successfully resolved 3rd DUI cases in the county where I'm charged?

  2. Is the attorney familiar with the local court procedures?

  3. Does the attorney have a good working relationship with the prosecutor assigned to my case?

  4. Is the attorney familiar with the possible defenses to my case?

You should be prepared to discuss your case goals with the lawyer. Are you looking to go to a jury trial on your case regardless of the plea offer made to you? Or are you looking for someone to soften the blow? These issues will impact the rates you pay and how your case is handled moving forward.

Step 4: Review Your Criminal Complaint

You should have received a copy of the Criminal Complaint against you, which details the charges and allegations against you. You should review this complaint and make a mental note of any inconsistencies or allegations that you are disputing.

Step 5: Pursue Treatment Options

The average person charged with a DUI has driven drunk 80 times before being caught. Regardless of whether or not you're a full-blown alcoholic, if you've picked up 3 DUI cases in your lifetime, there is a clear problem with alcohol abuse. 

Your best chance at receiving house arrest is to demonstrate that you are committed towards changing the behavior that led to your arrests. You should discuss with your lawyer the prospect of completing an inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation program.

As a former DUI prosecutor, I will tell you this: Judges and prosecutors don't want to hear excuses. They don't want to hear that you're not an alcoholic, but just make bad decisions. They don't want to be blamed for giving you a lenient plea deal just to have you go out and kill someone in a subsequent DUI accident. You need to position yourself as a person who is worth taking a chance on.

Although case law requires that your treatment be court ordered before you receive sentencing credit, some courts will provide you with credit towards your sentence for inpatient treatment or for any time spent living in a sober residence. Most importantly, completing a rehabilitation program can help your attorney in the negotiations process, as you are demonstrating your commitment towards changing your future. 

Find the best DUI lawyer for your 3rd DUI Case

Now that you understand some of the steps you will need to take, it is critically important that you start the process of acquiring legal representation. You will want to be sure that an experienced Pittsburgh DUI Attorney is there to assist you from the beginning of your case all the way through trial. 

Attorney Dave Zuckerman is a former DUI prosecutor who has successfully represented those accused of 3rd DUI offenses in Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Indiana, Washington and Westmoreland Counties. He is a member of the National College of DUI Defense and has been recognized as by the American Institute of DUI Attorneys as a "10 Best" Attorney in Pennsylvania for client satisfaction. 

To speak with Attorney Zuckerman today, please call the Zuckerman Law Firm at 412-447-5580.