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?
For 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
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