While most states have similar laws when it comes to the legal limit of blood alcohol content, many states have subtle and not-so-subtle variations when it comes to their laws related to drinking. Pennsylvania’s legislature has taken a tiered approach to tackle driving under the influence, introducing in the early 2000s three distinct categories of DUIs. Each of these categories focuses on offering both treatment and penalties for offenders.
General Impairment in Pennsylvania
The first level of BAC classified by Pennsylvania law is any BAC reading from .08 percent (the standard level for impairment in most states) to .099 percent. A general impairment may also apply to undetermined BAC levels. The penalties for this infraction depend on how many offenses you have had before receiving this DUI. For those with a clean driving record, penalties range from a $300 fine to six months of probation or mandatory attendance at classes addressing alcohol and highway safety. For drivers with a prior DUI offense, the repercussions are a bit steeper. You may face up to six months of jail time, an ignition interlock device, a license suspension of up to a year, and a maximum fine of $2,500. Any driver with more than two DUI offenses faces the maximum penalty, which includes the charge of a second-degree misdemeanor, as well as higher maximums for fines (up to $5,000) and jail time (up to two years).
High BAC in Pennsylvania
The second tier of BAC addressed in Pennsylvania law corresponds to BAC levels taken in the .10 percent to .159 percent range. At this level, a driver with no prior DUI offenses faces a 12-month license suspension, up to six months in prison, and a maximum fine of $5,000. Also, they may have to receive treatment and attend alcohol highway safety courses. These fines and prison terms remain for drivers with a prior offense, although the minimum fines increase by $750 and jail time by 30 days. Someone with a previous DUI and a high BAC level may also require an ignition interlock device. For drivers with two or three DUIs on their record, penalties include being first-degree misdemeanor as well as an 18-month license suspension. For drivers with two DUI offenses, jail time ranges from 90 days to five years, whereas drivers with three or more DUIs face one to five years in prison.
Highest BAC in Pennsylvania
The final and most severe, level of BAC in Pennsylvania is aptly named “Highest BAC,” and corresponds with BAC readings taken at .16 percent or higher. Drivers at this tier face license suspensions, regardless of their previous DUI history. Drivers with a clean driving record receive a 12-month suspension, and drivers with one or more DUIs face an 18-month license suspension. Drivers with no previous DUIs also face a fine ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, up to six months of prison time, safety school, and possible treatment. For drivers without a pristine driving record, an ignition interlock for one year awaits them, as well as a charge of first degree misdemeanor. Drivers with prior offenses also face fines of up to $10,000, with the minimum fine for a driver with at least two previous DUIs being $2,500. Prison time at this level maxes out at a five-year sentence.
Were you charged with a DUI while driving in Pennsylvania? It may be worthwhile to consider consulting with a lawyer who can aid you in navigating the process. Depending on whether it was your first offense or not, speak with us today if you’re interested in learning how seeking legal counsel might benefit your case.