Your Plan A did not pan out.

Is it time for Plan B?

What exactly is Bankruptcy?

Will it wipe out all of my debts?

Bankruptcy is a federal court process designed to help consumers and businesses eliminate their debts or repay them under the protection of the bankruptcy court. Bankruptcies can generally be described as "liquidation" (Chapter 7) or "reorganization" (Chapter 13). Under a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you ask the bankruptcy court to wipe out (discharge) the debts you owe. Under a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you file a plan with the bankruptcy court proposing how you will repay your creditors. You must repay some debts in full; others may be repaid only partially or not at all, depending on what you can afford.

Chapter 13 vs Chapter 7

Chapter 13

Often known as a "wage-earner's plan," a Chapter 13 bankruptcy does not require liquidation of nonexempt assets to satisfy your creditors. Instead, you pay some or all of your unsecured debt back through the court over a 36- to 60-month period. The percentage of unsecured debt you are required to repay must be at least equal to what your creditors would receive if your nonexempt assets were liquidated as part of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you successfully complete the court-ordered repayment schedule, any unpaid unsecured debt is then discharged.

You lose no property in Chapter 13 bankruptcy, because you fund your repayment plan through your income. In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you select property you are eligible to keep from a list of state exemptions. Although state exemption laws differ, states typically allow you to keep these types of property in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy:

  • Equity in your home (called a homestead exemption) - Under the Bankruptcy Code, you can exempt up to $20,200 of equity. Some states have no homestead exemption; others allow debtors to protect all or most of the equity in their home.
  • Insurance - You usually get to keep the cash value of your policies.
  • Retirement plans - Most retirement benefits are protected in bankruptcy.
  • You'll be able to keep most household goods, furniture, furnishings, clothing (other than furs), appliances, books and musical instruments. You may be able to keep jewelry only worth up to $1,000 or so. Most states let you keep a vehicle as long as your equity doesn't exceed several thousand dollars. And many states give you a "wild card" amount of money -- often $1,000 or more -- that you can apply toward any property.
  • Public benefits - All public benefits, such as welfare, Social Security, and unemployment insurance, are fully protected.
  • Tools used on your job - You'll probably be able to keep up to a few thousand dollars worth of the tools used in your trade or profession.

Chapter 7

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is often referred to as a liquidation bankruptcy. In Chapter 7 proceedings, you do not pay anything to unsecured creditors included in your bankruptcy petition unless the court requires a liquidation sale of your nonexempt assets. (Nonexempt assets are those not protected from forced liquidation by either federal or state statutes. If you own assets that are nonexempt, you may be required to liquidate them. The court would then distribute the proceeds from the sale to your unsecured creditors as partial satisfaction of the debts you owe. Any remaining unpaid debt would then be discharged, and you would no longer be held responsible for it. You can receive a discharge of your debts through Chapter 7 only once every six years.

In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you ask the bankruptcy court to discharge most of the debts you owe. In exchange for this discharge, the bankruptcy trustee can take any property you own that is not exempt from collection (see below), sell it, and distribute the proceeds to your creditors.

Accused of a DUI?

You can fight your charge.

First Step

You made a mistake, and have been charged with driving while intoxicated. The first step in your Plan B should be to choose McElrath Legal Holdings as your defense attorney.

McElrath Legal Holdings understands Pennsylvania law inside and out. When you choose us, we will explain all of the options available. We will aggresively fight the charges on your behalf.

Just because you have been accused of a DUI does not mean you are guilty. If you fight your DUI charge, you may be able to reduce the charges or even win your case.

What You Need To Know

How much do you have to drink (BAC*) for a DUI in Pennsylvania?

Under 21.02%
21 or older.08%

DUI Sequence of Events

  • Traffic Stop

    Police will gather evidence against you at this time. Politely decline to speak with them until you have spoken with your DUI attorney

  • Arrest

    Arrests are made during the traffic stop if the Police believe there is probable cause. Cooperate with the officer but remain silent. Anything you say could be used against you

  • Booking

    This takes place at the Police station. You will be fingerprinted, photographed, searched, and asked to answer questions. Remember to decline to answer questions until you speak to your lawyer. You may be free to go after booking

  • Arraignment

    The judge will read the charges against you and ask for your plea. Your lawyer will receive copies of all the evidence against you. Dates of the preliminary hearing will be set

  • Preliminary Hearing

    The judge will determine if there is enough evidence to convince a jury that you were driving while intoxicated. Your lawyer will learn more about the prosecutors case against you and then present you with your options

  • Trial

    The prosecution and your DUI attorney will plead their case to the judge and the jury.

  • Sentencing

    After the verdict, you will hear the sentencing. Your lawyer will help you to understand the outcome and what options there are to mover forward.

Penalty Levels

General Impairment penalties (Undetermined BAC, .08 to .099% BAC)
No Prior DUI Offenses
  • Ungraded Misdemeanor
  • Up to 6 months probation
  • $300 fine
  • Alcohol Highway Safety School
  • Treatment when ordered
1 Prior DUI Offense
  • Ungraded Misdemeanor
  • 12 month license suspension
  • 5 to 6 months jail time
  • $300-$2500 fine
  • Alcohol Highway Safety School
  • Treatment when ordered
  • 1 year ignition interlock
2 or More Prior DUI Offenses
  • 2nd Degree Misdemeanor
  • 12 month license suspension
  • 10 days to 2 years prison
  • $500-$5000 fine
  • Treatment when ordered
  • 1 year ignition interlock

The new law creates a higher set of penalties for those having higher BAC levels. It allows for treatment at all levels, and requires alcohol highway safety school for all first and second time offenders.

High BAC penalties (.10 to .159% BAC)
No Prior DUI Offenses
  • Ungraded Misdemeanor
  • 12 month license suspension
  • 48 hours to 6 months prison
  • $500-$5000 fine
  • Alcohol Highway Safety School
  • Treatment when ordered
1 Prior DUI Offense
  • Ungraded Misdemeanor
  • 12 month license suspension
  • 30 days to 6 months prison
  • $750-$5000 fine
  • Alcohol Highway Safety School
  • Treatment when ordered
  • 1 year ignition interlock
2 or More Prior DUI Offenses
  • 1st Degree Misdemeanor
  • 18 month license suspension
  • 90 days to 5 years prison
  • $1500-$10000 fine
  • Treatment when ordered
  • 1 year ignition interlock
3 or More Prior DUI Offenses
  • 1st Degree Misdemeanor
  • 18 month license suspension
  • 1 to 5 years prison
  • $1500-$10000 fine
  • Treatment when ordered
  • 1 year ignition interlock

For those at the highest BAC levels, the new law has strict penalties, but also allows for treatment. This even-handed approach allows for individuals to receive counseling for their alcohol problem, while still penalizing those who choose to continue the dangerous practice of drinking and driving.
In addition, drivers under the influence of controlled substances and those who refuse breath or chemical testing are subject to the highest BAC category penalties.

Highest BAC penalties (.16% and higher) or Controlled Substance
No Prior DUI Offenses
  • Ungraded Misdemeanor
  • 12 month license suspension
  • 72 hours to 6 months prison
  • $1000-$5000 fine
  • Alcohol Highway Safety School
  • Treatment when ordered
1 Prior DUI Offense
  • 1st Degree Misdemeanor
  • 18 month license suspension
  • 90 days to 5 years prison
  • $1500-$10000 fine
  • Alcohol Highway Safety School
  • Treatment when ordered
  • 1 year ignition interlock
2 or More Prior DUI Offenses
  • 1st Degree Misdemeanor
  • 18 month license suspension
  • 1 to 5 years prison
  • $2500-$10000 fine
  • Treatment when ordered
  • 1 year ignition interlock

About Us

Paul McElrath Legal Associates Banner

Here at McElrath Legal Holdings, we focus on debtor and small business representation, which includes chapter 7, 11, 12 and 13's. By exclusively handling bankruptcy law cases, we are more familiar with bankruptcy law than lawyers who do not limit their practice. Concentrating the practice also increases our lawyer's efficiency in handling a case, as it is likely that a similar case was handled before. Our professional team of lawyers and helpful staff members work together to help people and businesses keep their most valuable assets.

We consider our work to be a calling, not a job. We have the idea that work should be challenging and the challenge should be fun. We put our clients first; bankruptcy proceedings involve one of the most difficult periods in a person's life. It has been said that bankruptcy lawyers see good people at their worst. For this reason a lawyer handling a bankruptcy case must have the ability to listen well, to communicate promptly, and to commit himself to providing quality legal services. This is our goal. Our cases deserve a level of commitment that recognizes and validates that trust.

Our Locations

  • Tarentum
  • Warren
  • Washington
  • White Oak
  • Wilkes-Barre
  • Williamsport
  • York
  • Beaver
  • Belle Vernon
  • Butler
  • Clarion
  • Clearfield
  • Cloudersport
  • Duncansville
  • Erie
  • Greensburg
  • Indiana
  • Johnstown
  • Meadville
  • New Castle
  • Pittsburgh
  • Sharon
  • Somerset

Contact

Contact us, we will help you determine your best Plan B, at (800) 405-0935 or using the form below.