Do I Need a DUI Lawyer?

I get my fair share of questions about DUIs. Of course, one of the most common questions is, do I need a DUI defense lawyer? But there are numerous others. So I've included them below in hopes that it may assist those searching for answers during a tough time.

What Constitutes Driving Under the Influence?

Before we know whether you need a DUI defense lawyer, let's learn what "driving under the influence" means. DUI stands for driving under the influence of a substance that can impair your ability to drive safely.

In many cases, this means drinking alcohol. However, it can also mean drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, opioids, prescription medications, and over-the-counter medications.

Benefits of a DUI Defense Lawyer

The benefits a top Pennsylvania DUI lawyer can provide throughout your case are invaluable.

They have in-depth knowledge of state laws, legal procedures, and strategies to challenge DUI charges. In addition, a DUI defense lawyer can evaluate the evidence, identify potential weaknesses in the prosecution's case, and negotiate with prosecutors for reduced charges or penalties.

They can represent you in court to fight for your rights and work towards the best possible outcome if necessary. So it’s safe to say that having a top PA DUI defense lawyer on your side is a strong bet.

What are the Consequences of a DUI in Pennsylvania?

A DUI conviction can have significant consequences in Pennsylvania. These may include:

  • license suspension
  • large fines
  • mandatory alcohol education programs
  • probation
  • community service
  • possible jail time
  • points on your license
  • increased auto insurance rates

Legal Limits for Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) or Breathalyzer Test in PA

In Pennsylvania, the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or breathalyzer is as follows:

  • Drivers under 21: Pennsylvania has a zero-tolerance policy for drivers under 21. Any detectable amount of alcohol above .02% in their system via blood or breathalyzer test can lead to a DUI charge.
  • Drivers aged 21 and older: A BAC or breathalyzer test result of 0.08% or higher is considered above the legal limit for DUI.
  • Commercial drivers: The legal limit is lower at 0.04% BAC or breathalyzer test result or higher.

Note that even if your BAC is below the legal limit, you can still be charged with a DUI if your ability to operate a vehicle safely is impaired by alcohol or drugs. A DUI defense lawyer can help determine the accuracy of the breathalyzer test.

Talk with a DUI Lawyer Even for a First-Time Offense

Even first-time offenders can face steep penalties for a DUI. For example, a BAC between 0.08% and 0.099% can result in:

  • a probationary period
  • enrollment in an alcohol education program
  • fines ranging from $300 to $5,000
  • potential license suspension of up to one year

However, penalties can increase for higher BAC levels, prior convictions, or if minors were in the vehicle during the offense.

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in Pennsylvania?

A DUI conviction can stay on your record for a significant time. In most cases, a DUI conviction remains on your criminal record permanently.

This can have long-term consequences, potentially affecting future employment opportunities, professional licenses, and personal reputation. It highlights the importance of seeking the legal guidance of a top DUI defense lawyer to explore potential options for minimizing the impact of a DUI conviction.

Can I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in Pennsylvania?

Yes, you have the right to refuse a breathalyzer test.

However, refusing a breathalyzer test triggers the state's implied consent law. This law allows the Department of Transportation to impose penalties, such as license suspension, even if you are acquitted of a DUI.

So, it’s advisable to consult with a DUI defense lawyer to understand the potential consequences and legal implications before deciding on breathalyzer testing.

Does a DUI Conviction Affect Auto Insurance Rates in Pennsylvania?

A DUI conviction can significantly impact your auto insurance rates in Pennsylvania.

Insurance companies consider DUI convictions as high-risk behavior, often resulting in increased premiums or the possibility of being denied coverage altogether. Additionally, after a DUI conviction, you may need an SR-22 certificate to demonstrate financial responsibility before your driving privileges can be reinstated.

It's crucial to consult with your insurance provider to understand the specific implications and explore options for managing the impact on your rates.

How Can I Find the Best DUI Defense Lawyer in Pennsylvania?

Finding the best DUI lawyer in Pennsylvania requires thorough research and consideration. Start by seeking recommendations from trusted sources, such as friends, family, or other legal professionals.

Online directories and legal association websites can also list experienced DUI defense lawyers in your area. Read reviews and testimonials, and visit their websites to assess their expertise, credentials, and success rates.

Schedule consultations with potential lawyers to discuss your case and evaluate their understanding, approach, and level of personal attention they can provide.

Call Our Law Offices if You’re Facing a DUI Charge

A DUI offense is no laughing matter. You face severe, long-term consequences in Pennsylvania. So, the answer isn’t whether you need a DUI defense lawyer. It’s how quickly you should contact one.

We have law offices in Norristown and Doylestown, PA. Our DUI lawyers have experience dealing with Pennsylvania laws and can work with you to get the best outcome. Don’t wait. Contact us today.

10 High Swartz Attorneys named to 2023 PA Super Lawyers® and Rising Stars Lists

The Pennsylvania Super Lawyers® List continues to acknowledge High Swartz Attorneys.

High Swartz is pleased to announce that 10 of its attorneys have been named to the 2023 Super Lawyers® and Rising Stars list. Congratulations go out to the attorneys listed below.

Attorneys on the 2023 Super Lawyers® List

Judith A. Algeo: Judith returns to the Super Lawyers list for the third consecutive time in her impressive family law career in Bucks County, PA.

David J. Brooman: 2023 marks the 5th consecutive year and 14th overall for David’s inclusion in the Super Lawyers® list. David was listed for his outstanding environmental law work in Montgomery County.

Mary Cushing Doherty: Mary is no stranger to the Super Lawyers® list. She is also listed as a Top Lawyers in PA, Top 100 Lawyers in the Philadelphia area and top 50 female attorneys in Pennsylvania for Family Law.

Mark R. Fischer, Jr.: Mark was nominated for inclusion in his 6th consecutive Super Lawyers® list for his outstanding firm contributions in civil litigation defense work.

Gilbert P. High, Jr.: 2024 marks Gil’s 18th consecutive year on the Super Lawyers® list. His legal acuity in State and local Municipal work continue to keep him on the top.

Thomas E. Panzer: His fifth consecutive year on the Super Lawyers® List, Tom is recognized for his Workers’ Compensation Law practice.

Thomas D. Rees: Tom joins Gil as another top attorney with 18 consecutive years on the list. Tom was included for his work in Employment and Labor Law.

Joel D. Rosen: Our managing partner was included for the 7th consecutive year for his outstanding work in Business and Corporate law.

Richard C. Sokorai: Rich returns for his third year on the Super Lawyers® list and is recognized in 2023 for his business litigation legal work.

2023 High Swartz Attorneys on the Super Lawyers® – Rising Stars List

Matthew T. Hovey: Matt deservedly has been added to the list for 2023 for his contributions to local governments in and around Pennsylvania's municipalities.

How are Pennsylvania Super Lawyers® selected?

Super Lawyers® uses a patented multiphase selection process, including nominations, independent research and peer evaluations. Lawyers enter the candidate pool by one of 4 ways – by a managing partner survey, nomination by other lawyers, third party feedback, or identification by Super Lawyers® themselves.

Step two in the selection process is independent research and the evaluation is based on 12 indicators of professional legal achievement and recognition by peers. Those indicators are:

  • Verdicts/Settlements
  • Transactions
  • Representative Clients
  • Legal Experience
  • Legal Honors and Awards
  • Special licenses or legal certifications
  • Standing within the law firm
  • Bar Association or professional activity
  • Legal Pro Bono work and community service
  • Lectures and legal writings
  • Education and employment background
  • Other outstanding legal services/achievements

Step 3 involves the candidates with the highest total number of points from steps 1 and 2 which serve on a blue ribbon panel. These panelists then evaluate other candidates within their primary practice area.

Step 4 is the final selection. A representative number of top attorneys in PA from small, medium and large size law firms are selected. The Super Lawyers list recognizes no more than 5 percent of attorneys in each state. The Rising Stars list recognizes no more than 2.5 percent of attorneys in each state. To be eligible for inclusion in Rising Stars, a candidate must be either 40 years old or younger, or in practice for 10 years or less.

If you are in need of legal assistance, High Swartz is hear to help. Please call 610.275.0700 or use our contact form to email us.

Jacob Limaldi Joins High Swartz LLP as Summer Law Clerk

High Swartz LLP is pleased to announce that Jacob Limaldi, (Charles Widger School of Law, Villanova '24) has joined the firm's business and corporate law group as a summer law clerk. His impressive background and achievements make him a valuable addition to the firm. Welcome Jacob!

Originally from Toms River, New Jersey, Jacob attended Toms River High School South, where he was a member of the school's swim team. His dedication led him to become a one-time state record holder, earning recognition from USA Swimming as a Scholastic All American and Scholar Athlete of the Year. These accomplishments demonstrate Jacob's discipline, and dedication—qualities that will undoubtedly translate well into his legal career.

Jacob pursued his undergraduate studies at Yale University, where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. During his time at Yale, Jacob not only excelled academically but also participated in the university's men's Varsity swim team. Moreover, Jacob's passion for learning and intellectual growth led him to be selected as a William F. Buckley Jr. Fellow. This prestigious fellowship recognizes students who exhibit exceptional intellectual curiosity and a commitment to exploring diverse ideas. Additionally, Jacob was honored as a Yale Club of New York City Scholar, highlighting his academic achievements.

Following his undergraduate studies, Jacob gained valuable experience at Paul Hastings LLP's New York City law office. As a corporate paralegal in the Alternative Lending & Private Credit Group, Jacob provided counsel to private lenders and financial sponsors specializing in secured credit facilities. His time at the firm not only allowed him to develop a comprehensive understanding of corporate law but also honed his skills in delivering sound legal advice to potential clients.

Outside of his professional endeavors, Jacob generously devoted his free time to volunteering with Minds Matter NYC as a writing tutor. This organization supports high school students from lower-income families in the New York City area by providing them with educational resources.

Currently pursuing his JD at the Charles Widger School of Law, Villanova University, Jacob actively contributes to the legal community. As a member of the Corporate Law Society Executive Board, he collaborates with fellow students and professionals to enhance their understanding of business law. Additionally, Jacob has been recognized as a BARBRI Law Preview Scholar, which prepared him for the rigors of law school. Furthermore, he participates in the Graduate Student Peer Mentorship Program, where he provides guidance and support to his peers, fostering a collaborative and inclusive environment.

With his well-rounded background, passion for business law, and dedication to his studies, Jacob is poised to make significant contributions to High Swartz LLP's business and corporate law group. The firm looks forward to the fresh insights that Jacob will bring as he continues to pursue his legal education at Villanova and beyond.

Prenups: What You Need to Know

Many couples shy away from the idea of prenups because they think it's unromantic or that it indicates a lack of trust. But the real truth is that having a prenup lawyer draft a well-prepared agreement can provide peace of mind for both parties. In this blog, we'll explore the value of prenuptial agreements and answer some common questions about them.

Can I Write My Own Prenup?

In theory, yes, you can write your prenup. However, it is essential to remember that prenups are legal documents and must comply with Pennsylvania law to be enforceable. Consequently, a prenup that is poorly written or doesn't follow the law could be invalidated by a court.

Additionally, DIY prenups are more likely to contain errors or omissions that could cause problems. So I recommend couples work with a family lawyer to draft their prenup.

What Should Prenuptial Agreements Include?

A prenup should include provisions that address the couple's financial and property rights in the event of divorce or separation. This might include:

  • How assets and debts will be divided
  • Whether spousal support will be paid and how much
  • How property acquired during the marriage will be divided
  • How property brought into the marriage will be treated
  • Whether one or both spouses will have the right to live in the marital home
  • How retirement accounts and other financial assets will be handled

It is important to note that a prenup cannot include child custody or child support provisions. These issues are decided by a court based on the child's best interests at the time of the divorce or separation.

Do You Need Two Lawyers for a Prenup?

While Pennsylvania law does not require each party to have a prenup lawyer, it is highly recommended. For instance, utilizing the assistance of a family lawyer for each partner can help ensure that each party's rights are protected and that the prenup is fair and enforceable.

Additionally, if one party later challenges the prenup in court, having separate prenup lawyers can help demonstrate that each party understood the agreement's terms and entered it voluntarily.

Can You Create and Sign a Prenuptial Agreement after You're Married?

Yes, you can create and sign a postnuptial agreement after marriage. A postnuptial agreement is similar to a prenuptial agreement but is signed after the couple has married.

Can Catholics Get a Prenup?

Yes, Catholics can get a prenup. However, the Catholic Church does not recognize prenuptial agreements as a means to dissolve a valid marriage or to determine the custody of children. So, if a couple is Catholic, they may want to consult with their church before creating a prenup.

Is Common Law Marriage Real?

Yes, common law marriage is an actual legal concept. Common law is a form of marriage recognized in some states when specific criteria are met.

Is Common Law Marriage Valid in Pennsylvania?

No, common-law marriage is not valid in Pennsylvania. However, Pennsylvania recognizes common law marriages established in other states where it is legal.

Do You Need a Prenup for Common Law Marriage?

While a prenup is not necessary for a common-law marriage, it can be beneficial in establishing the rights and obligations of each spouse. This can be especially important if the couple has significant assets or debts or wants to clarify their expectations regarding property division or spousal support during separation or divorce.

However, it's important to note that the terms of a prenup may not supersede the laws of a particular state, so it's essential to consult with a prenup lawyer to ensure that any agreement is legally enforceable.

What States in the USA Recognize Common Law Marriages?

As of 2023, only a handful of states in the USA recognize common-law marriage. The conditions that recognize common law marriage are:

  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Georgia (if the relationship began before 1997)
  • Idaho (if the relationship began before 1996)
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire (inheritance only)
  • Ohio (if the relationship began before 10/10/91)
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania (if the relationship began before 2005)
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Utah

The requirements for establishing a common law marriage vary by state. For example, in some states, couples must cohabit for a certain period, often several years, and hold themselves out as married.

In other states, common law marriage can be established through mutual agreement, among other factors. Moreover, in states where common law marriage is recognized, not all rights and benefits of marriage are automatically conferred upon the couple.

Contact a Family Lawyer Today to Discuss Your Prenup.

In summary, a prenup can be a valuable tool for couples who want to protect their assets and plan for the future. While it is possible to write your own prenup, working with a prenup lawyer can help ensure it complies with Pennsylvania law and is fair to both parties.

If you are considering a prenup, I encourage you to contact a family lawyer to discuss your options. High Swartz has law offices in Doylestown and Norristown, PA. Our attorneys at law can help draft a prenuptial agreement that complies with Pennsylvania laws.

Family Lawyer Caitlin Foley Esq. Joins Our Norristown Law Office

Family lawyer Caitlin Foley Esq focuses on divorce, custody, support, and mediation. She is a certified mediator with the American Council of Mediators and founded the mediation practice at her previous firm. Caitlin primarily works with clients in the Philadelphia region and its suburbs.

Caitlin attended Villanova University's Charles Widger School of Law, where she gained valuable experience and insights into family law practice. In addition, she interned with Embrace Families, focusing on child welfare and foster youth issues. She was also active in the Pro Bono Society and the Coalition Advocating for Human Rights and Dignity, where she developed a strong sense of social justice and a commitment to helping others.

While at Villanova, Caitlin also completed an internship with Community-Based Care of Central Florida. She researched the unique issues affecting foster youth and participated in initiatives to improve the foster care system. She also gained experience in family law by working in the Villanova Federal Tax Clinic, helping clients with issues related to adoption, termination of parental rights, dependency, delinquency, and more.

In addition to her legal work, Caitlin is an active member of the Doris Jonas Freed American Inn of Court, where she collaborates with other attorneys to stay up-to-date on the latest legal issues and developments. She was born and raised in the area, and her extended family still resides here.

She joins our family law practice in our Norristown, PA, law office.

High Swartz to Host Office Picnic During the Doylestown Memorial Day Parade

If you're planning to attend, kindly RSVP to Darlene at or call 215-345-8888.

High Swartz is excited to announce we'll once again be hosting our Annual Office Picnic during the Doylestown Memorial Day Parade! The picnic will start at 10am on Monday, May 29, 2023 and feature good eats, good beverages, good vibes, and a great parade!

"We are pleased to be in a position to host our 11th Annual Memorial Day Open House. We are privileged to have our office and grounds located directly on the parade route for the longest continuously running Memorial Day Parade in the nation. Memorial Day is both a somber and an exciting day for the Doylestown community and we are grateful to be able to participate."

Tom Panzer, High Swartz Doylestown Partner

The law office picnic started years back when the firm was known as McNamara, Bolla, & Panzer P.C. Since then, we’ve welcomed many past and present clients, family, and friends to join us in celebrating the unofficial start of summer. The Doylestown, PA tradition is the oldest Memorial Day Parade in the United States and honors American veterans that lost their lives in defense of our nation.

Feel free to stop by anytime and join us in the rear parking lot of our office. There is easy access off of Garden Alley, adjacent to the Bucks Bar Association. No parking will be allowed in our lot as there will be tents and people filling it throughout the day!

A flag will be raised at War Memorial Field of Central Bucks West High School at 375 West Court Street. The parade then moves east and end at Doylestown Cemetery where a memorial service will be held to honor our fallen heroes. Add the event to your Facebook calendar by clicking here.

High Swartz Doylestown Memorial Day Picnic
Monday, May 29, 2023
116 East Court Street, Doylestown, PA 18901
10:00am - 1:00pm