When Pennsylvania drivers receive their first DUI charge, there isn’t a one size fits all set of consequences. Rather, a suspect’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level guides the penalties they will face.
Here are three levels of DUI charges a first-time offender may receive:
The first tier DUI in Pennsylvania is known as general impairment. Within this category, suspects can face DUI charges at an unknown BAC level or a BAC up to .099%. A first-time offense in this category is an ungraded misdemeanor. On top of a criminal charge, offenders will also face a $300 fine, a maximum of six months of probation and must attend alcohol safety school.
The second level is a high BAC DUI charge, which offenders with a BAC level of .10 to .159% receive. Again, first-time offenders at this level will acquire an ungraded misdemeanor charge on their record and must also attend alcohol highway safety school. Other penalties include a $500 to $5,000 fine, a two-day to six-month prison sentence and a year-long license suspension.
The last level or highest BAC category is for offenders who drive with a BAC level of .16% or higher or while under the influence of a controlled substance. First-time offender penalties that differ from high BAC penalties include a $1,000 to $5,000 fine and a 3-day to six-month prison sentence.
At any level, offenders may receive orders to seek treatment. And when suspects have prior offenses, the punishments are often more severe. Repeat offenders may have to deal with larger fines, a lengthier prison sentence, a longer license suspension and ignition interlock installation. Plus, their charge may rise to a first- or second-degree misdemeanor.
No matter what level offense you are facing, a criminal defense attorney can help you build a defense strategy geared to lessen the harsh impacts of a DUI charge.