Pittsburgh DUI Lawyer
Gary E. Gerson Puts His More Than 25 Years Of Experience On Your Side
A DUI in Pennsylvania is a serious criminal traffic offense that may result in life-changing consequences including: incarceration, extensive fines, and a suspension or revocation of driving privilege that often results in a loss of employment. But Mr. Gerson can identify whether an illegal arrest has occurred. Based on his experience, he can determine whether what police mistakenly believe is drunk driving is actually erratic driving caused by bad weather, hazardous road conditions, vehicle malfunction, and other factors. Often speed timing devices or breath testing equipment have a history of malfunction, or a lack of required service and calibration that result in a flawed speed or blood alcohol test result. Pittsburgh DUI lawyer Gary Gerson will investigate every potential source of evidence to provide the best opportunity to maintain your innocence and put this crisis behind you.
You can trust your freedom and future to a defense lawyer as connected as Mr. Gerson. The rapport he has built with police, prosecutors, and judges throughout the counties of Western Pennsylvania over the past 25-plus years speaks for itself. His past performances at trial, in front of demanding judges and juries, are his most valuable assets as a negotiator of your case’s outcome.
Have you been arrested for drunk driving, refusing a breath test or vehicular homicide in Western Pennsylvania? By hiring an experienced and effective DUI defense lawyer such as Gary Gerson, you will give yourself the best opportunity to achieve your goals and move forward with your life. Your initial consultation is free of charge. Call our Pittsburgh law offices now at (412) 281-3380 or toll free at (800) 514-1660. We also welcome email inquiries by clicking here to be directed to our Contact page.
Our Pittsburgh DUI attorney at The Law Offices of Gary E. Gerson provides a skilled and vigorous defense to people charged with drunk driving (DUI / DWI / DAI), or driving under the influence. If you have been charged with DUI / DWI / DAI in Pennsylvania, it is critical to consult with a highly knowledgeable DUI lawyer. The penalties for DUI / DWI / DAI have become more severe. But there are still alternatives. It is important to know your rights! Gary is also a well known traffic violations lawyer in Allegheny County.
Pennsylvania DUI Defense Lawyer
Our criminal defense attorney has significant experience defending people against DUI charges in all counties in western Pennsylvania. Because each county has some flexibility in how it enforces the state’s drunk-driving laws, having an attorney experienced in the operations of the county in which you’ve been charged is important. We are familiar with the court systems in Allegheny County, Butler County, Beaver County, Lawrence County, Westmoreland County, Armstrong County, Indiana County, Crawford County, Mercer County, Erie County, McKean County, Somerset County, Fayette County, Greene County, and Washington County.
The Consequences of a DUI Conviction
The consequences of DUI / DAI / DWI convictions depend on various factors, including the suspect’s blood-alcohol level (BAC), prior convictions, the suspect’s age, and the suspect’s license status at the time of apprehension. Even minimal charges can lead to massive fines, but most officers will attempt to combine as many charges as possible against a suspect upon arrest. The combination of charges you may be looking to face if you are convicted for drunk driving or if you are arrested after you refuse to take a Breathalyzer test in Pennsylvania will likely include:
- The suspension of your driver’s license for months or over a year
- A complete annulment of your driver’s license
- Costly fines
- Time in jail
- A Court Reporting Network (CRN) evaluation of your drug and alcohol use
- Mandatory alcohol education programs such as ARD
- An inescapable criminal record
Our DUI defense lawyer is skilled at negotiating alternatives to jail and reduced charges. Some alternatives to jail include alternative housing, work release, home detention with monitoring bracelets, and diversionary programs (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition or “ARD”) for first-time DUI offenders.
We routinely analyze drunk-driving arrests, ensuring that officers had reasonable suspicion to initiate the traffic stop. If we find that the police did not have reasonable suspicion, our criminal defense attorney can file a motion to suppress the evidence, which may result in the dismissal of the DUI (drunk driving) charges. When applicable, we also help an individual obtain an expungement of their record, and take the time to explain thoroughly how this can be accomplished.
What Happens After a DUI Arrest?
After being charged with DUI in Pennsylvania and once you have been released, the next thing that should happen is you contacting an experienced Pennsylvania DUI lawyer. Attorney Gary E. Gerson defends clients in the Pittsburgh area and throughout western Pennsylvania from against all types of DUI charges from a first offense DUI to felony DUI. Attorney Gerson will help you to understand Pennsylvania’s drunk driving laws as they apply to your case and will fully and clearly explain the court process so you will know what to expect as the case moves forward. Legal proceedings involved in the DUI court process may include, in order:
- preliminary arraignment
- preliminary hearing
- formal arraignment
- pretrial conference
- hearings on pretrial motions
- trial, diversion programs and/or plea hearings
- sentence hearings
- hearings on post-sentence motions
DUI Preliminary Arraignment
The initial proceeding after arrest is a Preliminary Arraignment. The purpose of the proceeding is to advise the accused of the initial charges, set a bond, and schedule the case for a Preliminary Hearing (typically within 10 days).
A Preliminary Hearing is exactly what it suggests- a hearing that is preliminary to a determination of whether the charges will be held for trial in the Court of Common Pleas. Because the proceeding is not a trial, issues of guilt or innocence, or the credibility of witnesses are not relevant. Rather, the judge is concerned solely with whether the Commonwealth can meet its burden of proving “more likely than not” the accused was operating or in physical control of the movement of a vehicle at a time when his or her blood alcohol content was .08% or higher. In cases where there was a refusal to submit to chemical testing of breath or blood, the court is concerned with whether the Commonwealth has met its burden of proving the accused was incapable of safe driving due to consumption of alcohol or controlled substances. Typically, testimony from the arresting officer that the accused was observed operating a vehicle, and proof of blood alcohol content in the form of a receipt from a chemical testing of breath or blood or laboratory report concerning a blood draw will be sufficient for the Commonwealth to meet its burden of proof.
Formal Arraignment for DUI
At Formal Arraignment, the accused receives a copy of the formal charges to be defended against, enters a plea of “not guilty”, has the case assigned to a trial judge, and receives a date for a Pretrial Conference. The proceeding also triggers filing deadlines for various pretrial motions, including requests for discovery. Generally, defense counsel files an Appearance prior to Formal Arraignment, and will determine whether there is a recommendation for resolution of the charges through a diversion program such as ARD. If it appears that the accused is eligible for ARD, an interview with the Office of the District Attorney will be scheduled, and ultimately an approval hearing will follow.
Not Eligible for ARD?
In cases where an accused is not eligible for diversion, a Pretrial Conference is scheduled to advise the trial judge as to whether pretrial motions have or will be filed; and, if not, whether the accused intends to proceed with a trial defense or alternatively, enter a plea. Regardless of how the accused intends to proceed, a date for final resolution of the charges will be scheduled.
Challenging the Legality of the Stop
In certain cases, pretrial motions may be filed contesting the legality of the traffic stopresulting in the DUI arrest. If, after a hearing on the motions, the judge determines the police acted illegally and in violation of the various constitutional rights of the accused, all physical evidence, including blood alcohol content, will be “suppressed” and the prosecution prohibited from offering the evidence into the trial record. Frequently, suppression of evidence results in a withdrawal of charges.
Generally, a ruling on pretrial motions will determine whether a case will proceed to trial. As previously noted, if suppression is granted the prosecution has no scientific evidence of intoxication to offer into evidence, and may withdraw all charges. However, if suppression is denied, the prosecution will offer all testimony and scientific evidence of intoxication into the trial record; and effectively prevent a successful trial defense.
DUI Plea Hearings or Trial
Plea hearings are scheduled where an accused is not eligible for a diversion program such as ARD, and where there is no viable defense available to the accused. In such circumstances, the judge will conduct an “on-the-record” colloquy with the accused to confirm that the guilty plea is knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily entered. Having done so, the judge will typically proceed with sentencing.
DUI Post-sentence Motions
If an accused is dissatisfied with his sentence he may file post-sentence motions seeking to: withdraw a guilty plea, request the court to reconsider the previously denial of an attempt to withdraw a guilty plea, to “arrest” the judgment of conviction resulting from a guilty plea, or modify the sentence. Post-sentence motions must be in writing and filed within 10 days of sentencing. Generally, the court has 120 days to act on the motions. If no action is taken, the motions are deemed denied by operation of law.
Finally, the accused has a right of appeal which must be taken within 30 days of sentencing or, alternatively, within 30 days of the denial of any filed post-sentence motion. In cases involving guilty pleas, there are only 4 bases for an appeal: a) the court had no jurisdiction to hear the case, and/or b) the sentence imposed by the judge was illegal, and/or c) the guilty plea was not knowingly, intelligently or voluntarily entered, and/or d) defense counsel was incompetent and ineffective. In cases involving denial of pretrial motions or guilty verdicts after trial, appeals may address judicial error or sufficiency of evidence. Generally speaking, appeals are taken on second or subsequent DUI convictions due to the more severe penalties involved.
DUI Outcomes are NOT Predictable
Don’t make the mistake of assuming all DUI case outcomes are predictable. In reality, every case is unique and “fact specific”. You need an attorney capable of explaining the various options and applicable defense strategies that may be available. For over 25 years, Attorney Gary E. Gerson has represented individuals charged with DUI, and is experienced at negotiator of recommendations for ARD or the favorable terms of a plea agreement, or providing a vigorous trial defense.
Pittsburgh DUI Lawyer Gary E. Gerson Fights For Your Rights
If you have been arrested for drunk driving in Pittsburgh, the criminal justice system can seem like an endless maze with only harsh punishments waiting for you at the end of it. You are likely feeling helpless at the prospect that your hard work to build a successful life is crashing down around you.
You don’t have to feel that way any longer.
Throughout Western Pennsylvania, the dedicated, aggressive criminal defense law firm that aggressively protects your rights against drunk driving charges is the Law Offices of Gary E. Gerson.
Pittsburgh DUI lawyer Gary E. Gerson has been highly successful defending people arrested for DUI, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, since 1991. Whether this is your first drunk driving arrest and your blood alcohol content (BAC) was relatively low, or if you are facing charges of felony DUI and being accused of injuring or killing someone while driving under the influence of alcohol, attorney Gerson will treat you and your case with the utmost priority. Even if you are the parent of an underage individual who has been arrested for drinking and driving, attorney Gerson will fight to ensure your son or daughter is able to learn from his or her mistake without the charges haunting him or her on his or her permanent record for years to come.