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Law Offices of

Patrick F. Lauer, Jr. LLC

Pennsylvania Criminal Defense

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Home » DUI » What are some reasons for the differences between DUI penalties?

Pennsylvania’s laws classify certain charges of driving under the influence as more severe offenses. In addition to other circumstances, the result of a blood or chemical test could determine whether an individual will face a misdemeanor or felony conviction. 

Motorists with a test result showing a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or less could face a misdemeanor for general impairment, as noted by the Pennsylvania DOT Driver and Vehicle Services. A second offense with a BAC of less than 0.08% also classifies as a misdemeanor but may result in a harsher sentence. As reported by WHYY PBS, after a third DUI arrest in Pennsylvania, a motorist may receive a felony charge. 

Penalties for first- and second-offense DUI convictions 

If there were no bodily injuries or property damages, a first-time DUI conviction might result in a $300 fine and six months of probation. A motorist could also expect the possibility of a suspended license and a requirement to attend a highway safety program. 

Penalties for a second DUI could result in spending six months in jail and paying a $2,500 fine. A judge may also require a motorist to install an ignition interlock device. The convicted motorist’s vehicle will not start unless he or she blows into the IID and the device registers a legally acceptable BAC level. 

High-BAC offenses and penalties 

An individual whose BAC level test results show 0.16% or more faces a conviction for a high-BAC offense. Penalties may include a fine of up to $5,000 and six months of imprisonment. Some individuals may qualify to undergo substance-abuse treatment in exchange for a lesser jail sentence. 

Felony DUI and penalties 

A third DUI with a BAC test result of at least 0.16% or with a controlled substance results in a felony. The fourth and subsequent offense, however, is a felony DUI regardless of what a blood or chemical test shows. 

Pennsylvania also allows a judge to order harsher punishments for impaired motorists convicted of causing a fatal accident. Penalties could include up to 10 years of imprisonment and a $25,000 fine.