Literally thousands of arrests are made each year for DUI – driving under the influence – in Pennsylvania. What constitutes driving under the influence in this state? What are the penalties for a conviction? Keep reading, and you’ll learn what every Pennsylvania driver needs to know.
You can be charged with driving under the influence in Pennsylvania if you are driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level at or above 0.08 percent, whether or not your ability to drive is actually impaired.
BAC level is one of the key factors considered in the sentencing of a DUI offender. “General” impairment is a BAC level from 0.08 to 0.099 percent. A “high” BAC level is 0.10 to 0.159 percent, and the “highest” is a measurement at or above 0.16 percent.
IS JAIL REQUIRED FOR DUI CONVICTIONS?
Can you go to jail for a driving under the influence conviction? In many cases, the answer is yes. Listed here are the minimum jail times required for DUI convictions in Pennsylvania:
- First offense, general impairment: No jail required
- First offense, high BAC level: Two days
- First offense, highest BAC level: Three days
- Second offense, general impairment: Five days
- Second offense, high BAC level: Thirty days
- Second offense, highest BAC level: Ninety days
- Third offense, general impairment: Ten days
- Third offense, high BAC level: Ninety days
- Third offense, highest BAC level: One year
The rules are different for younger drivers. A driver under 21 may be charged with DUI if his or her BAC level measures at or above 0.02 percent. And if any driver appears impaired, a police officer in Pennsylvania may arrest that driver for DUI without regard to the driver’s BAC level.
WILL YOU NEED AN ATTORNEY’S HELP?
In Pennsylvania, previous driving under the influence convictions remain on your criminal record (and are counted against you in the sentencing for any subsequent DUI conviction) for a period of ten years.
An arrest for DUI does not mean that you will be convicted, but in Lemoyne – or anywhere in Cumberland or Dauphin County – you cannot afford to be represented by the wrong Lemoyne DUI attorney. You will need a lawyer with extensive DUI experience in the Pennsylvania courts.
Do not try to act as your own attorney if you are charged with DUI in Pennsylvania. Both the law and the science of DUI are exceedingly complicated, anything you say could be twisted and used against you, and far too much will be at stake. If you’re charged with DUI, get legal help at once.
WHAT ARE THE “EXTRA-LEGAL” CONSEQUENCES OF DUI CONVICTIONS?
A driving under the influence conviction can put your job at risk or make it difficult to obtain any job that involves driving. Moreover, any conviction for DUI will certainly mean that the cost of your automobile insurance will increase.
If you hold a professional license, a DUI conviction may trigger disciplinary action by your professional licensing board. And even though most DUI charges are misdemeanors, if you’re an immigrant in this state, a driving under the influence conviction puts you at risk for deportation.
WHEN IS DUI CHARGED AS A FELONY?
Driving under the influence is a felony in Pennsylvania if the suspect has caused an injury or a death while driving under the influence. In fact, there are three ways to charge driving under the influence as a felony in this state:
- Felony DUI with Injury: When an impaired driver injures someone, this is usually the charge. The right DUI attorney may be able to have a felony DUI with injury charge reduced to a misdemeanor charge.
- Aggravated Assault While Under the Influence: This is a second-degree felony charged when an impaired driver has severely or permanently injured someone.
- Homicide While Under the Influence: This is the most serious driving under the influence charge a driver can face in Pennsylvania. It’s a second-degree felony, and a conviction is punishable with five to ten years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
HOW WILL A DUI LAWYER HANDLE YOUR CASE?
In some cases, especially if a driver has no previous convictions and there was no accident, the right DUI attorney can have the charge reduced to “wet reckless,” a much less serious charge.
Of course, if you believe that you’re not guilty, and if the charge cannot be dropped or dismissed, you have the right to a jury trial and the right to ask that jury for a not guilty verdict. It is always best to let your attorney handle the case and to heed your attorney’s recommendations.
If you take a DUI case to trial, your lawyer will review the evidence against you and find a way to cast doubt on that evidence. If your attorney finds that the police had no legal reason or probable cause to stop you in traffic, it is likely that the charge can be dropped or dismissed.
Probable cause for stopping a driver is frequently an issue in Pennsylvania DUI cases. When the police had no sufficient cause to stop a motorist in traffic, any evidence obtained as a result of the stop must be suppressed, and the case will usually be dropped or dismissed.
In other cases, your lawyer may contest the accuracy of breath or blood test results. Breathalyzer devices, for example, can return false positive readings from a variety of foods, drugs, and non-alcoholic beverages. The credentials of whoever conducted the test may also be challenged.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE?
What’s far less arduous than fighting a DUI charge is avoiding a DUI charge altogether. You’ve heard the advice “Don’t Drink and Drive” a thousand times. It’s good advice. Take a taxi or an Uber, have a designated driver, or sleep on a friend’s sofa if you plan to drink away from home.
Yes, a ride-for-hire will cost you a few dollars, but it’s a great deal less costly than a ride to the jail, the emergency room, or the morgue.
Still, if you make a poor judgment and you’re charged with DUI, or if you’re charged and you’re innocent, you will need the help of the right Lemoyne DUI attorney, and you will need to contact that attorney as quickly as possible. Having a good lawyer’s help is every accused person’s right.