Chester County Felony DUI Attorney

In 2017, a reported 293 people were killed in alcohol-related vehicle accidents in Pennsylvania. This represents approximately 26% of all traffic fatalities for that year. State and local law enforcement agencies have been increasing efforts to prevent and deter motorists from driving under influence by using traffic checkpoint stops and saturated area patrols. Here in Chester County in 2017, there were 15 accident fatalities that involved alcohol, which represents over a 60% increase from the prior year. The chart below summarizes the statewide fatalities. 


Drinking Drivers

Non-Drinking Drivers


Passengers With Drinking Driver






What Constitutes Driving Under the Influence in Pennsylvania?

In 2003, Pennsylvania joined what is now a standard nationwide in adopting a threshold for when a driver is deemed to be under the influence of alcohol. A blood or breath test is generally used to measure a driver's blood alcohol content (BAC). The legal limit for alcohol is .08%. Drivers are required to submit to chemical testing when a member of law enforcement suspects they may be intoxicated.

How “Drugged Driving” Arrests Have Surged

Driving while impaired by the influence of drugs has been a growing concern as laws regarding marijuana usage have been changing and the widespread abuse of prescription opioids. Testing for alcohol is a much easier and more established practice by conducting a simple breath test. Testing for drugs is more challenging because it requires a blood test. Law enforcement agencies have been training more officers in detecting drug use, known as drug recognition.

Driving Under the Influence of Controlled Substance Provisions

  • Drivers are prohibited from operating a vehicle with a Schedule I controlled substance in their blood
  • Schedule I substances are those not currently acceptable for medical purposes and are likely to be abused
  • Examples of Schedule I drugs include heroin, peyote, and “ecstasy”
  • Drivers are prohibited from operating a vehicle with a Schedule II or III substance in their blood unless it is prescribed by a physician
  • Common Schedule II drugs include oxycodone and morphine and Schedule III include codeine and ketamine
  • It also prohibits driving while under the influence of a “solvent or noxious substance” outlined in 18 Pa.C.S.

When Does a DUI Become a Potential Felony Offense?

Under Pennsylvania law, the vast majority of DUI offenses are charged as misdemeanors—even for repeat offenders. A DUI offense transitions to a felony offense if the impaired driver creates an accident that results in someone being severely injured or killed. Aggravated assault by vehicle is a second-degree felony and involves causing a serious bodily injury.

Homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence occurs when an impaired driver accidentally causes a fatality. This charge is also a second-degree felony offense; however, it may be enhanced to a first-degree felony if the offender has a prior DUI or similar type of conviction.  First-degree felony offenses are very serious and punishable by a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

Experienced Legal Representation for Felony DUI Charges

If you have been arrested for a DUI, there are increasingly harsh penalties that may be imposed. When someone involved in the accident was seriously injured or killed, the charges may be upgraded to a felony offense. Joseph D. Lento is a defense attorney who has years of experience in this realm of legal practice. Make the call to (888) 535-3686 today for an evaluation of your case.

Contact Us Today!

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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