By now you might have read the story of Tasha Lynn Schleicher, whom police have described as “one of the worst DUI offenders in the United States.”
Earlier this month, Schleicher, of Minnesota, was arrested for drunk driving in the town of Riverside, Illinois, ABC News reported.
When police looked into her background, they discovered she had been arrested for DUI six previous times in six different states.
And while six different DUI arrests are pretty extreme, courts don’t look kindly on anyone who commits a DUI offense more than once.
That’s why when it comes to a second-offense DUI, Pennsylvania – and many other states – often impose much harsher penalties than what a first-time offender could expect.
There’s no minimum jail time required for first-time DUI offenders in Pennsylvania, while a second offense can have defendants locked up for anywhere from five days to six months.
Fines and Penalties
For a second-offense DUI, Pennsylvania courts can fine drivers up to $2,500, while first-time offenders will have to pay $300.
In Pennsylvania, second-offense DUI convictions mean giving up your license for a year. First-time offenders face no such driving restrictions.
Refusing to Take a DUI Test
As we’ll discuss later, refusing to be tested following a traffic stop is a bad idea. It also means the loss of your license: a one-year suspension for first-time offenses, and 18 months for second offenses.
Much of this can depend on the amount you had to drink before your arrest. The jail terms, penalties and license suspension periods we’ve been discussing all assume a defendant with a blood alcohol level of .08 to .099.
If your blood alcohol level was higher, you could face even more substantial fines and prison terms. And when it comes to second-offense DUI cases, Pennsylvania requires drivers to have an ignition interlock installed on their vehicle for a year. These drivers may also have to attend a rehab program.
As we’ve noted before, the best defense against a DUI arrest is to avoid driving while under the influence. But if you do find yourself pulled over, there are some things you can do to bolster your case.
1. Agree to take the test
Like we said earlier, refusing to take a blood/breathalyzer/urine test after a DUI arrest is not a good idea. Pennsylvania is an “implied consent” state, meaning drivers agree to be tested if police suspected they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Refusing to take this test leads to automatic penalties, and the prosecution doesn’t necessarily have to have a test to convict you. In fact, they can use your refusal against you in court.
2. Get an independent test
State law gives DUI defendants the right to have their own blood test conducted. While this won’t replace the police’s test, it does give your attorney more to work with in court.
3. Make a record
Try to note all the facts you can surrounding your arrest: Where/when you were stopped, the reason the police gave for stopping you, any field sobriety tests you took, and what you might have told the police about the amount you had to drink.
Once you’ve gotten that down, talk to a DUI attorney. A good lawyer can craft defense strategies, comb through evidence and talk to witnesses, while making sure your arrest was handled by the book.
If you need an experienced DUI attorney, contact the firm of Penglase & Benson. Whatever the circumstances of your arrest, our lawyers are dedicated to making sure your rights are protected.