Driving under the influence laws are complicated in Pennsylvania. Penalties for DUI convictions depend on a driver’s level of intoxication and his or her previous DUI convictions. If you are charged with DUI, you must contact a Lemoyne DUI attorney for the legal help that you’ll need.

What are the sentencing guidelines for driving under the influence convictions in Pennsylvania? What are the rules regarding license suspensions and ignition interlock devices (IIDs)?

And exactly what constitutes driving under the influence in the state of Pennsylvania? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and to learn more about driving under the influence and DUI convictions in this state.

WHAT CAN TRIGGER A DUI ARREST IN PENNSYLVANIA?

You may be arrested for DUI in Pennsylvania if you operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level at 0.08 percent or higher. If you are driving at or above the legal limit, it does not matter if your driving ability is or is not actually impaired. You’re still breaking the law.

A driver’s blood alcohol content level is a key factor in the sentencing of DUI offenders. Pennsylvania classifies most driving under the influence violations using these three categories:

  1. “General impairment” is a BAC level at or above 0.08 percent but less than 0.10 percent.
  2. “High rate” impairment is a BAC level at or above 0.10 percent but under 0.16 percent.
  3.  “Highest rate” impairment is any BAC level at or above 0.16 percent.

WHAT ARE THE IID AND LICENSE SUSPENSION PENALTIES FOR DUI OFFENDERS?

Listed here are the ignition interlock device and driver’s license suspension rules for the general, highest, and highest impairment rates and for first, second, and subsequent driving under the influence offenses in Pennsylvania:

For general impairment:

  1. 1. First offense: no license suspension
  2. Second offense: a 12-month license suspension with IID eligibility after 6 months. The IID must be used for a period of 1 year.
  3. Subsequent offenses: a 12-month license suspension with IID eligibility after 6 months. The IID must be used for a period of 1 year.

For high rate impairment:

  1. First offense: a 12-month license suspension with immediate IID eligibility. The IID must be used for a period of 1 year.
  2. Second offense: a 12-month license suspension with IID eligibility after 6 months. The IID must be used for a period of 1 year.
  3. Subsequent offenses: an 18-month license suspension with IID eligibility after 9 months. The IID must be used for a period of 1 year.

For highest rate impairment:

  1. First offense: a 12-month license suspension with immediate IID eligibility. The IID must be used for a period of 1 year.
  2. Second offense: an 18-month license suspension with IID eligibility after 9 months. The IID must be used for a period of 1 year.
  3. Subsequent offenses: an 18-month license suspension with IID eligibility after 9 months. The IID must be used for a period of 1 year.

HOW DO IIDs WORK?

To start a vehicle that is equipped with an ignition interlock device, a driver must blow into the IID, which is essentially a miniature breathalyzer device. If a driver’s blood alcohol content level is detectable, the vehicle does not start.

An ignition interlock device is not cheap. A convicted driving under the influence offender will spend $650 to $1,100 unless that offender qualifies for an exemption based on financial hardship. When a driver qualifies for that exemption, the state will pay part or all of the IID’s cost.

If driving is part of a convicted DUI offender’s job, that person will need to seek a waiver of the IID requirement for an employer-owned vehicle. Driving any vehicle without an IID or employer exemption may trigger serious criminal penalties and a longer driver’s license suspension period.

WHAT ABOUT DUI DEFENDANTS IN THE ARD PROGRAM?

IIDs are not required for first-time DUI offenders who qualify for the ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition) program. In an ARD program, a defendant must complete probation, pay fines, and attend classes. The defendant’s license may be suspended for up to two months.

However, successful completion of the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program means that the driving under the influence charge will be dismissed and the arrest record will become eligible for expungement.

WHAT ARE PENNSYLVANIA’S OTHER DUI PENALTIES?

Driver’s license suspensions and ignition interlock devices are not the most serious penalties facing those who are convicted of DUI in Pennsylvania. For a first offense general impairment DUI, a conviction may be penalized with up to six months on probation and a fine of up to $300.

For a first offense high rate impairment DUI, a conviction is punishable with 48 hours to six months in jail and a fine of $500 to $5,000. A conviction for highest rate impairment as a first offense may be penalized with 72 hours to six months in prison and a fine of $1,000 to $5,000.

WHAT IF YOU REFUSE TO TAKE A DUI TEST?

Pennsylvania drivers are required to take a blood or breath exam after a DUI arrest. Refusal to test may be penalized with a license suspension for one year – with IID eligibility after six months – and a $500 reinstatement fee. Subsequent refusals to test are penalized more harshly.

Good Pennsylvania DUI lawyers are often able to have DUI charges dropped and to win acquittals for their clients. But every case is different, so you must have the personalized advice and aggressive representation that a DUI attorney can provide only after reviewing your case.

THE BEST DUI ADVICE

You know, of course, that the DUI difficulties discussed here can be avoided by following that one bit of advice that you’ve heard so many times before: Don’t Drink and Drive.

Find a designated driver you trust or hire a taxi, a limo, or a rideshare service. You could even rent a room overnight or sleep on a friend’s sofa. Do whatever it takes to avoid drinking and driving. But if you make a judgment error, or if you’re wrongly charged with DUI, help is here.

If you are charged with driving under the influence in or near Harrisburg or Lemoyne, or if you are at risk for losing your Pennsylvania driver’s license, you must be represented by the right Lemoyne DUI attorney. Your future and even your freedom may be at stake.