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The DUI Process

The DUI Process

If you’ve been arrested for a DUI, you’re probably worried about losing your license – or even your job. You need an experienced lawyer who will work with you to overcome the charges and get your life back on track.

When someone is arrested for a DUI in the state of Pennsylvania, they must go through the criminal process, which begins with the DUI arrest. The officer usually pulls somebody over because of a traffic violation – they were speeding, swerving, or running a red light. The officer will approach the vehicle, and based on his or her observations, concluded that the person is under the influence of alcohol, prescription medication, or an illegal narcotic.

That officer will then take notes about their observations of the interactions with you including:– a strong odor of alcohol, red, bloodshot, or glassy eyes, or slurred speech. They then ask the person to exit the vehicle to do field sobriety tests. If they arrest the person, they either do a breath test at the scene of the stop, or take them to the hospital to do a blood test or to the police station for a breath test.

The District Attorney’s Office and or the Magistrate Court receive the report, and the Magistrate Court sends paperwork out to the defendant. The paperwork informs the individual that they must appear at a preliminary hearing, which is the first step in the court process

At the preliminary hearing (which is usually at the magistrate court) the magistrate district judge will set bail for the individual, because bail must always be set for criminal offences. Usually bail will be set for either ROR (which releases the person on his or her own recognizance) or on unsecured bail. Unsecured bail allows you to sign for the monetary amount on the promise that you will report for future court dates.

At a preliminary DUI hearing, the judge looks for three things:


Was there reasonable suspicion to pull the person over? Was the officer investigating an accident in which the person was involved?

Was there probable cause to arrest the individual for a DUI?

Was the proper implied consent warning given to the individual before any blood or breath tests were administered?

If these criteria were met, the district court judge will then bind the case over to the Court of Common Pleas. The next hearing is an arraignment, where the attorney will appear and plead not guilty for the defendant. Finally, a pre-trial conference and a trial date are usually the last steps in the criminal process. If the defendant can get into the first offender ARD program, an expungement hearing can take place after they complete the ARD Program.

You need an experienced DUI lawyer by your side to help you navigate the entire process.


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