There are many consequences to a DUI conviction in Pennsylvania. While many defendants are prepared for jail time, community service, fines, and the difficulties of life with criminal records, they are not always prepared for mandatory license suspensions.
Chapter 38 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes makes it a crime to drive under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances. This chapter also sets forth sentencing and administrative consequences and makes special provisions for certain types of DUI defendants, including minors, drivers of commercial vehicles or school vehicles, repeat offenders, defendants with a minor child in the vehicle, and those who refuse to take an alcohol test when requested by a law enforcement officer. Section 3804(e) creates a mandatory suspension of driving privileges for defendants who are convicted of driving under the influence.
The length of the driver’s license suspension is determined by the classification of the DUI offense. If the defendant’s blood alcohol content was between 0.08 percent and 0.1 percent, and he has no prior DUI convictions, there is no suspension of driving privileges. For DUIs that are upgraded to misdemeanors or second-degree misdemeanors, the defendant’s driving privileges will be suspended for twelve months. First-degree misdemeanors subject the defendant to eighteen months of suspended driving privileges. If you refuse a breath test, your license will be suspended for twelve months or more for multiple offenses.
Defendants should also be aware of the other penalties to which Pennsylvania courts can sentence anyone convicted of driving under the influence. These include probation and jail time, fines, attendance at an alcohol highway safety program, a substance abuse evaluation, and treatment for substance abuse as deemed necessary by the court.
According to CBS Philly, a new law just took effect that allows DUI offenders above 0.10 percent to drive if they have ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicles. Previously, defendants with a blood alcohol levels above 0.10 percent were subject to a mandatory twelve-month suspension of their driver’s licenses. The new ignition interlock requirement allows defendants to retain driving privileges as long as they comply with the requirements of the ignition interlocks.
Defendants who are subject to either a license suspension or an ignition interlock device will spend a significant amount of time at the DMV to resolve these matters. They must obtain special restricted licenses for the period during which they have ignition interlock devices. When this period is successfully completed, the defendant must obtain the appropriate court order and return to the DMV to have the regular driver’s license reinstated. Similarly, a driver whose license was suspended must compile the appropriate paperwork for a reinstatement application and submit it to the DMV to obtain a new license after the suspension period has lapsed. This process can be time-consuming and stressful.
If you or a loved one has been arrested on suspicion of DUI, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Your constitutional rights and driving privileges can be restricted by anything you tell the police or prosecutor. Call (610) 436-1410 today to schedule your free consultation with experienced Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney Michael J. Skinner. The Skinner Law Firm will help you mitigate the damage of a DUI charge and ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process.