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Drunk Driving Penalties In Pennsylvania: What You Need To Know

Being arrested for drunk driving can be a very scary and stressful experience. It can also leave you wondering what's going to happen to you, and whether there is any hope that the charges against you may be reduced or dropped. When it comes to DUI cases, details matter and the factors related to your stop, testing and arrest also matter.

While every DUI case must be investigated and assessed in the context of the specific facts and circumstances, the following are some common defenses to drunk driving charges.

Why DUI Charges May Be Reduced or Dismissed

  • Improper stop - Did a police officer have a valid reason to pull you over?
  • Questioning field sobriety test(s) - Were field sobriety tests administered correctly? Were you suffering from an injury or ailment when tests were administered?
  • Questioning Breathalyzer test results - Did a police officer correctly administer a Breathalyzer test? Was the Breathalyzer instrument properly stored or correctly calibrated?
  • Questioning the chain of custody for a blood test - Was a blood test correctly administered and properly labeled and stored? Is there proof that the sample is yours?

DUI Penalties for Pennsylvania Drivers

There are three levels of DUI in Pennsylvania; general impairment, high BAC and highest BAC.

  1. General impairment (BAC between .08 - .099) - The penalties associated with a general impairment conviction depend on whether a driver has any prior DUI offenses. For first-time offenders; penalties include a $300 fine, six months of probation and participation in an alcohol awareness and safety program. For drivers with two or more prior DUIs, the penalties increase to include a 12-month driver's license suspension, up to a $5,000 fine, up to 24 months in prison and a 12-month use of an ignition interlock device.
  2. High BAC (BAC between .10 - .159) - For high BAC offenders with no prior DUIs; penalties include a 12-month driver's license suspension, up to six months in prison, up to a $5,000 fine and participation in an alcohol awareness program. The severity of penalties increase for drivers with three or more DUI offenses to include a 18-month driver's license suspension, up to five years in prison, up to $10,000 fine and the mandatory use of an ignition interlock device.
  3. Highest BAC - (BAC or .16 and higher) - No prior DUI offenders will face a 12-month driver's license suspension, up to six months in prison, up to a $5,000 fine and mandatory participation in an alcohol awareness program. For repeat DUI offenders with BACs of .16 or above; the penalties increase to include an 18-month driver's license suspension, up to five years in prison, up to a $10,000 fine and the required use of an ignition interlock device for 12 months.

Seeking Legal Help is Important

If you are arrested for a DUI, obtaining legal help is one of the very first things that you should do. An attorney will thoroughly investigate your case to devise a defense strategy and will advocate on your behalf in court. In some cases, DUI charges may be reduced or eliminated. When these options aren't possible, an attorney may pursue alternative sentencing options which, when needed, may include treatment. By obtaining help from a seasoned DUI defense attorney, you have a better chance of reducing the personal and financial consequences associated with a DUI.

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Gregory R. Gifford
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