PA DUI Mailbag: No Contest in DUI Cases

Every Friday we will take a look at some of the most commonly asked questions about Pennsylvania DUI so that we can clear up any misconceptions and provide you with the most up-to-date and accurate information.  Today:

What will happen if I plea "no contest" in my Pennsylvania DUI case?

Dauphin County CourthouseFor a Pennsylvania DUI cases a "nolo contendere" (no contest) plea is of little or no use.  It will not spare you from jail or a loss of your driver’s license.  For all intents and purposes, in Pennsylvania, a “nolo” plea is the functional equivalent of a conviction.

Some judges will not accept a "nolo" plea for any case in which the driver refused to have his/her blood alcohol level tested or in cases where injuries to another person have occurred as a result of an accident.  Some will not take such a plea at all. The judge does not have to accept a "nolo" plea in any case. If a judge does accept it, you will still have stiff fines, perform community service, and serve some jail time in virtually every case. The license suspension is the same as if a “guilty” plea was entered. Hence, many people opt for trial, seeking to try to win the case.

Even when it was used, a “nolo” plea counts as a prior conviction so that any future DUI arrests would be negatively impacted by greater punishment than if a person had no prior history at all.

So basically in a criminal context by pleading "no contest" is the same as pleading "guilty" and to do that and get nothing in exchange from the prosecution would be a big blunder.  Please remember, the fines and sanctions for a  PA DUI conviction are very severe so please consult with a qualified Pennsylvania DUI attorney.

If you would like to ask a question, please submit it via the contact us link.


-Justin J. McShane, Esquire, Pennsylvania DUI Attorney

I am the highest rated DUI Attorney in PA as Rated by Avvo.com

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Harrisburg DUI Lawyer Justin J McShane NBTA certification

Board Certified Criminal Trial Advocate
By the National Board of Trial Advocacy
A Pennsylvania Supreme Court Approved Agency

PA DUI attorney Justin J. McShane is the President/CEO of The McShane Firm, LLC - Pennsylvania's top criminal law and DUI law firm. He is the highest rated DUI attorney in PA as rated by Avvo.com. Justin McShane is a double Board certified attorney. He is the first and so far the only Pennsylvania attorney to achieve American Bar Association recognized board certification in DUI defense from the National College for DUI Defense, Inc. He is also a Board Certified Criminal Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Approved Agency.

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