Many Pennsylvania residents arrested for DUI become confused when they see they are charged with two DUI offenses at the same time. However, unfortunately, Pennsylvania law allows drivers to be charged with two counts of DUI simultaneously, and different DUI charges stand independent of each other. In the event that you are found guilty of both counts, the penalties or consequences you face will be subject to both counts.
If you are facing DUI charges in Pennsylvania, it’s essential to seek legal counsel from a skilled DUI attorney. An experienced lawyer can look at all the factors surrounding your case and determine the best strategy for minimizing the penalties you might face. Here is some important information to know about DUI laws in Pennsylvania.
How DUI Laws Work in Pennsylvania
Most drivers choose not to refuse a chemical blood-alcohol test (BAC), as the penalty for refusal is an automatic license suspension. Therefore, the large majority of DUI cases involve physical evidence from a breathalyzer or chemical BAC test. However, some drivers do choose to refuse chemical tests and there are certain scenarios in which a police officer may forgo chemically testing a driver suspected of a DUI. In instances where physical evidence is lacking, legal action can still be pursued. Under Pennsylvania’s impairment laws, the district attorney can still use field sobriety tests and police officer observations to assert probable cause and the associated charges.
In Pennsylvania, there are two routes to a DUI/DWI conviction. The state’s “per se” DUI laws assert that if the government can prove you were operating a vehicle and your BAC within two hours of operation was above .08, you are considered to be driving under the influence simply by virtue of the chemical blood tests results alone. In addition to Pennsylvania’s per se laws, the district attorney can also pursue a conviction by establishing beyond a reasonable doubt that you were operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Since, there are two laws that make driving under the influence a crime, you may be charged with two counts of DUI. However, you will only receive one conviction.
Pennsylvania’s Three-Tier DUI System
If you are facing DUI charges in Pennsylvania, the penalties you may face depend on your criminal history and BAC. The state uses a three-tier system to assign DUI penalties. The first tier encompasses drivers who had a BAC between 0.08-0.99 percent. If you fall in this category, you will likely have to pay a fine of up to $300 and enroll in substance abuse classes. If your BAC falls into this range but it is your second offense, the penalties can include a fine of up to $2,500, a jail sentence of up to six months, and a one-year license suspension.
The state’s second tier applies to drivers whose BAC was between 0.10-0.159 at the time of arrest. In this tier, first-time offenders can expect six months parole, a one-year license suspension and a fine of up to $5,000. Second-time offenders in this tier may receive a jail sentence up to six months, a fine of up to $5,000 and a one-year license suspension.
The state’s third tier includes drivers whose BAC was 0.16 or higher and unsurprisingly, carries the harshest penalties. First-time offenders in this tier can expect a jail sentence of up to six months and a fine of up to $5,000. Second-time offenders can face up to five years in jail time, mandatory substance abuse school, the implementation of an ignition interlock device on their car, and a minimum $1,500 fine.
These are some of the penalties you may face from a DUI depending on the tier your situation falls under. It is important to note that third-time offenders are likely to face harsher penalties than those outlined in these tiers.
Work With an Experienced Southeastern Pennsylvania DUI Attorney Today
At Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, our DUI attorneys are committed to helping minimize the penalties associated with a DUI arrest. Our skilled team of criminal defense attorneys has successfully defended countless clients in DUI cases and in many instances, we’ve had the charges completely dropped. We understand how difficult a DUI charge can be, which is why we are committed to fighting for your rights. For over 65 years, our criminal defense attorneys have advocated for our client’s best interests in Montgomery County and throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania.