One drink too many could lead to a drunk driving charge, and you’ll be facing two cases under Pennsylvania law. Driving under the influence (DUI) actually triggers separate proceedings, both of which can have severe impacts on your life and freedoms: one that affects your driving privileges and one that carries criminal consequences. If you’ve been arrested for DUI, it’s important to understand the penalties that may result from the two types of cases and why it’s critical to hire an experienced Pennsylvania DUI attorney to represent your interests.

 

State Law on Drunk Driving

If you’re pulled over by an officer who suspects that you’re intoxicated, you may be required to submit to a breathalyzer test to measure your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). There are three different BAC levels that apply:

 

  • General Impairment: .08 to .099 percent;
  • High BAC: .10 to .159 percent
  • Highest BAC: in excess of .16 percent

 

Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles DUI Case

One case for DUI focuses on your driving privileges and is handled by the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles. Your driver’s license will be suspended based upon your BAC level and any prior offenses:

 

  • General Impairment: To keep your license on a first-time DUI, you must complete an alcohol highway safety class and may be ordered to undergo alcohol treatment. For a second or third offense, your license is suspended for 12 months.
  • High BAC: For your first and second drunk driving offense, you will lose your license for 12 months. If you have three or more DUI arrests on your record, your license is suspended for 18 months.
  • Highest BAC: If you’re a first-time offender, your driving privileges are suspended for a minimum of 12 months. For two or more DUIs, your license will be suspended for 18 months.

 

Note that you may be required to install an ignition interlock device as well. This technology prevents your engine from starting if it detects a BAC above a certain amount when you blow into it.

 

Drunk Driving as a Criminal Offense

The second case against you is a criminal case because driving drunk is against the law. A General Impairment charge may be up to two years in prison plus a maximum fine of $5,000 for multiple offenses. For High BAC, you are looking at five years’ imprisonment and a $10,000 fine for three or more DUIs. The penalties for Highest BAC range from 72 hours to five years in prison plus a fine of $1,000-$10,000 depending on your history.

 

A Pennsylvania DUI Lawyer Will Fight for Your Rights 

When you’re facing drunk driving charges in Pennsylvania, you can’t risk representing yourself. Only an experienced DUI attorney knows the laws relevant to your case before the DMV and in the criminal court system. The penalties for a conviction are harsh, but you do have options for defending your interests. A qualified lawyer will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome under state law. For more information or if you have questions about your case, please contact the Skinner Law Firm. We can schedule a consultation at our West Chester, Pennsylvania, office to discuss your matter in more detail. 

 

West Chester DUI Lawyer

www.dmv.pa.gov/information-centers/laws-regulations/pages/dui-legislation.aspx

Article Author

Michael J. Skinner, the founder of Skinner Law Firm LLC, is a former prosecutor with the Chester County District Attorney’s Office.

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