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Pittsburgh DUI Lawyer

5 DUI Tips In Pennsylvania

If you are stopped for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, illegal drugs, or controlled substances, protect your legal rights by following these five tips:

  1. Treat the Officer with Courtesy and Respect: Behaving badly when you’ve been stopped can only make your case worse.
  2. Answer Questions Directly Without Volunteering Additional Information: Do not hurt your case by giving information to the officer that could later be used against you.
  3. Politely Decline Any Field Sobriety Tests: Field sobriety tests are not mandatory in Pennsylvania.
  4. Allow the Police to Administer Breathalyzer or Blood Test: If you decline to take one of these tests, your driver’s license may be suspended automatically for one year, even if you are not criminally convicted.
  5. Call a DUI Lawyer: Having an experienced lawyer on your side can help your case.

Spivak Law Firm strongly defends people arrested for DUI.  If you face DUI charges, call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

DUI: Stiffer Penalties In Pennsylvania

The legal consequences for repeatedly driving under the influence in Pennsylvania have become much more severe under a recent new law, which establishes the state’s first felony for DUI.

It applies when someone has been charged with a third offense in a decade with at least twice the legal limit for alcohol, or to any fourth-time offender.

The new law mandates longer jail time for those who unintentionally cause someone’s death because of a repeat DUI violation.

The stiffer penalties include increased fines and penalties for driving under the influence on a license suspended due to a DUI conviction.

Spivak Law Firm handles all areas of criminal defense, including DUI, domestic-violence defense, PFA violations, and criminal-record expungements. We routinely handle preliminary hearings and summary trials.

Charged with a crime? Call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

DUI: Voluntary Consent


DUI Pic5Law enforcement cannot conduct a blood draw during a DUI arrest without a warrant or voluntary consent, according to a recent opinion by the U.S. Supreme Court.

DUI offenders previously charged with the highest level of impairment for contesting a blood draw may now potentially be charged and sentenced at the lowest level of impairment.

This is a major development, particularly because of mandatory sentencing laws. For instance, in Pennsylvania if you were charged with a second DUI at the highest level of impairment, you faced 90 days incarceration at the minimum. But charged at the lowest level of impairment, you face a minimum of five days incarceration.

To speak with a Pittsburgh DUI and criminal defense attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

DUI Law: Blood Tests


200274121-001The U.S. Supreme Court in Birchfield v. North Dakota recently declared warrantless blood draws made during DUI arrests unconstitutional. The Court reasoned that a blood draw poses substantial privacy concerns because a blood test reveals more about a person than simply blood alcohol levels.

However, because of the less intrusive nature of breath tests, warrantless breathalyzer tests are still permissible.

Prior to Birchfield, defendants who refused blood testing were regarded as having the highest level of impairment and faced the most severe penalties associated with a DUI offense. But now DUI offenders who previously refused blood testing may now be charged and sentenced as having the lowest level of impairment.

To speak with a Pittsburgh DUI and criminal defense lawyer, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

DUI and Driver’s License Suspension

200274121-001If you’re pulled over for drunk driving, you may decline to take the roadside sobriety tests. That’s right, you don’t have to stand on one foot or touch your finger to your nose.

But you should take a Breathalyzer or blood test, and here’s why:

Under Pennsylvania laws, refusal to submit to chemical testing will result in suspension of your driver’s license.

So even if you weren’t drinking and you beat the rap on the DUI, you still could lose your driving privileges for a year for refusing to take the chemical test.

To speak with an experienced DUI attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

DUI Hotel Gains Popularity in Allegheny County

200274139-001The Allegheny DUI Alternative to Jail Program, known as DUI Hotel, has recently celebrated its third year. Started in October 2010, the program offers first-time DUI offenders the option of spending four nights in a hotel taking educational classes and group therapy sessions rather than up to 72 hours in jail.

Since its inception, more than 1,500 people in Allegheny County have chosen DUI Hotel. The program enables participants to complete their sentences in just four days without having to serve any probation. Participants pay $500 for the program; the hotels contracted to house the participants are located in Oakland and West Mifflin.

To speak with a Pittsburgh DUI lawyer, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

5 Goals of DUI Hotel in Allegheny County

200274121-001DUI Hotel, established in late 2010 and modeled after a similar jail-alternative program in Ohio, offers most first-time DUI offenders in Allegheny County an opportunity to complete their sentencing requirements in just four (4) days. Goals of the program include:

(1)  Speed Things Up: Reduce the administrative backlog being created by use of probation’s electronic monitoring system.

(2)  Save Money: Create a self-sustaining alternative to jail other than house arrest that reduces overall costs to the system.

(3)  Make it Easy: Simplify offenders’ ability to complete the required activities and interventions for a first-time DUI offense.

(4)  Avoid Probation: Lessen the number of DUI offenders returning to court for probation violations.

(5)  Reduce Recidivism: Decrease the number of first-time DUI offenders returning for second and third offenses.

For a free consultation with an Allegheny County DUI lawyer, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

DUI Carries Minimum Sentences in Pennsylvania

200274121-001Pennsylvania law carries a mandatory minimum sentencing requirement for all DUI convictions. This means that judges may have little or no discretion in sentencing decisions.

In most cases, a first-time conviction for DUI requires several days of jail time, DUI hotel, or house arrest with electronic monitoring. Additionally, offenders must pay a fine, forfeit their driver’s license for one year, complete Alcohol Highway Safety School DUI classes, and submit to drug and alcohol screening.

To speak with a Pittsburgh DUI attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

DUI Penalties in Pennsylvania Prove Costly

200274139-001DUI penalties include Alcohol Highway Safety School classes designed to educate participants on the consequences of driving while intoxicated – including the safety, legal, physical, and economic costs of that decision. The goals for the participants of these mandatory classes include:

  • Understanding the relationship between substance use and highway safety
  • Recognizing that driving, after using substances, is dangerous behavior
  • Recognizing the broader implications of a DUI arrest in relation to family, job and friends
  • Identifying realistic strategies to avoid future DUI behavior
  • Learning how and where to obtain help for substance abuse problems

In one exercise, participants complete a worksheet assessing the total cost (not only fines and program fees, but also medical, court, time and other related costs) of their DUI. Estimates ranged from the low five-figures to the mid six-figures, the latter involving hospital costs from injuries sustained during a DUI-related incident.

To schedule an appointment with a Pittsburgh DUI attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

What is DUI Hotel?

SO000183In Allegheny County, DUI Hotel has quickly become the default sentencing option for most first-time DUI offenders. An alternative to jail, DUI Hotel offers participants the opportunity to complete all their required penalties during an intensive four-day program lasting from Thursday to Sunday. It is geared toward first-time offenders with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) exceeding .10.

But what exactly is DUI Hotel?

Just as it sounds, participants spend four days in an actual hotel – located either in Oakland or some 20 miles from downtown Pittsburgh. Participants enter the hotel on Thursday night and undergo a check-in process that includes a Breathalyzer test. Participants’ luggage is inspected, as alcohol and non-prescription drugs are strictly prohibited. The first night concludes with a group dinner and introduction to the program.

For the next three days, DUI offenders participate in classes and group therapy facilitated by Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, Mon-Yough Community Services, Alternatives, and Mercy Behavioral Health. The group therapy sessions aim to encourage participants to examine their behavior.

DUI Hotel is relatively cheap. Each participant pays $500 for the program, which includes a shared hotel room, food, and the classes. Participants may have their own private room for an additional cost of $350 ($850 total). Courts often assist low-income people by delaying sentencing to give them more time to raise the money.

To speak with a Pittsburgh DUI and criminal lawyer, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.