You should never take DUI charges lightly. Even if you have no criminal record, the penalties for a first-time offense can be harsh. It’s important to understand the potential consequences of a DUI conviction in Pennsylvania and why you should establish a strong defense against criminal charges.
In Pennsylvania, DUI charges are categorized into three tiers:
- General impairment
- High rate
- Highest rate
Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) measurement will determine which tier your charge will fall into. A BAC measurement between .08 and .10 is considered general impairment. A high rate charge occurs when your BAC is measured between .10 and .159. Of course, a BAC of .160 or higher will result in a charge at the highest rate tier.
You probably assume that the potential penalties for a DUI increase as the tiers go up and you’d be right. For example:
- General impairment charge: If you are charged with general impairment, you face up to six months probation. You will also be required to attend mandatory DUI classes. In addition, you may have to enroll in a drug and alcohol treatment program.
- High rate charge: A high rate conviction will result in a 48-hour jail term and six months of parole. You will also have your driver’s license suspended for one year. You also face a fine ranging between $1,000 and $5,000, as well as possible court-ordered enrollment in a treatment program.
- Highest rate charge: This charge carries the same penalties as a high rate charge. However, you will be required to serve a 72-hour jail term. You can also anticipate your fine to be on the higher end.
This is a general overview of DUI penalties in Pennsylvania. Your situation may be different depending on the circumstances surrounding your charge. For example, a breathalyzer refusal will result in a general impairment charge. However, you will face the same potential penalties as those in the highest rate tier.
Keep in mind that DUI charges are “stackable” offenses. In other words, previous drunk driving convictions will likely count against you. Felony charges are a real possibility. You should discuss your defense options with a trusted legal professional. It might be possible to have the charges reduced or dismissed altogether. If this is your first offense, alternative sentencing options may be available.