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DUI Laws in Pennsylvania
Driving under the influence – or DUI as it is commonly called – is a serious offense in Pennsylvania.
When facing a DUI or other criminal offenses, it is important to have a dedicated, experienced attorney by your side to assist you in navigating the stressful, challenging process of fighting criminal charges. At the Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, we will advocate for you every step of the way.
For a free legal consultation, call 215.515.3360
In terms of DUI, the penalties for DUI are based on the driver’s Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), which basically refers to how much alcohol is in the driver’s body, specifically in the blood stream.
Pennsylvania has a three-tiered definition for DUI based on the BAC of the driver: general impairment (from 0.08% to 0.099%); high BAC (from 0.10% to 0.159%); and highest BAC (from 0.16% and up, or a controlled substance).
For general impairment (from 0.08% to 0.099%), on your first offense, you can receive six months probation, a $300 fine, mandatory alcohol highway safety school, and alcohol and drug treatment. On your second and third offenses, these penalties continue to go up, including a second degree misdemeanor charge as well as potential prison time (up to two years), larger fines (up to $5,000), and the installation of an ignition interlock system in your car for one year.
For a high BAC (from 0.10% to 0.159%), the penalties are worse. On your first offense, you can have your license suspended for one year, up to six months in prison, a fine up to $5,000, mandatory alcohol highway safety school, and alcohol and drug treatment. For your second or third offenses, these penalties are much higher, such as a first degree misdemeanor charge as well as the suspension of your license for over a year, up to five years in prison, and a $10,000 fine.
Finally for highest BAC (0.16% and over or a controlled substance), if it is your first offense, you may have your license suspended for a year, up to six months in prison, a fine up to $5,000, and alcohol and drug treatment. However, if it is your second or third offense, like the other BAC levels, the penalties go up, including a first degree misdemeanor charge, up to five years in prison, and up to a $10,000 fine.
For a third offense DUI, one can receive a one year mandatory sentence to be served in state prison.
Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition
If it is your first offense DUI, you might qualify for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. This program focuses on the educational and treatment aspects of the penalties while potentially reducing the other kinds of penalties.
The ARD program requirements may vary slightly from county to county. Generally, as part of the program, you may have to attend twelve-and-a-half hours of highway safety school and enroll in a drug and/or alcohol treatment program. You will also lose your license, be under court supervision, and pay for all the fees, as well as a fine up to $5,000 dollars. At the end of the successful completion of the program, the charges are dismissed and they are automatically expunged. A person can only participate in the program one time.
However, the situation could be harsher if you do not participate in the program. You can avoid jail time as well as expunge the record of having committed a crime, which is important for job prospects. Some ARD programs will help you avoid license suspension and other collateral consequences completely.
Oftentimes, people might try to refuse to take a BAC test. However, Pennsylvania has what is called an “implied consent law”. This basically means that if you refuse to take the chemical test (such as a breathalyzer), you automatically lose your license and have to pay a fine.
If it is your first offense you will lose your license for a year, but if it is your second (or third) time refusing to take the test, then it is eighteen months of license suspension.
Last, like other states, Pennsylvania has what is called a “zero tolerance” policy for those under the age of twenty-one (the legal drinking age) who are convicted of drinking and driving.
If you are convicted of violating the zero tolerance policy by having any alcohol in your system while driving, then you will have your license suspended for one year, go to jail for two days up to six months, and be fined between $500 and $5,000.
Contact the Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, LLC Today
In Pennsylvania, it is essential to have a reliable, qualified attorney by your side when facing criminal charges like DUI. At the Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, we have what it takes to assist you during a challenging time by providing quality legal services. If you are looking for an attorney for a criminal matter in Pennsylvania, contact at the Law Offices of M.J. Snyder.
If you need a criminal defense lawyer, act fast and call 215-515-3360. We can help 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, including holidays.