Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a serious traffic offense which is labeled a criminal offense in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. If convicted of a DUI the consequences may include jail time, loss of license, significant probation and large fines. These potential penalties shall depend on the number of the offense, has it been within ten years of your last conviction for DUI and what is the blood-alcohol (BAC) or illegal controlled substance content of the person who was arrested.
But what happens if you are arrested on a DUI for the first time in Pennsylvania, OR more than ten years after your first DUI offense? Our office has represented drivers charged with their third DUI offense and they were still placed into the ARD program. This does not mean that everyone will get that break.
Are there provisions that can keep your criminal record clean? Is there a chance that you won’t lose your license for a long period of time? Can you avoid huge fines and long periods of probation? The answer is YES to the above.
What Is the Legal Limit For Blood Alcohol Content In Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, drivers over the age of 21 are considered to be intoxicated and incapable of operating a motor vehicle safely on our highways if they have a controlled substance or their blood-alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or more. However, drivers under the age of 21 are considered legally intoxicated if they have a BAC of .02 or more. In Pennsylvania there is a zero-tolerance policy for under-age drinking and driving.
What Are the Penalties For First Offense DUI In Pennsylvania?
The penalties for a first offense DUI in Pennsylvania begin even before you get to a court room, because under the state’s implied consent law, you must agree to take a chemical test after a police officer pulls you over on suspicion of a DUI. If you refuse to take the test, your license is suspended for 12 months, and there is little defense to this penalty if the police did everything by the book.
You will also need a Court Reporting Network (CRN) evaluation (which screens you for more comprehensive drug and alcohol treatment), and if required, a Drug and Alcohol (D&A) assessment. These must be completed before your first court date.
If you don’t refuse the chemical test, and are later convicted of DUI for the first time, the state has three BAC categories that determine your penalties:
- Tier I BAC of .08 percent to .099 percent – No suspension of driver’s license, no jail time, $300 fine with probation for six months. You will also undergo and complete safe driving classes.
- Tier II BAC of .10 percent to .159 percent – 48 hours to six months in jail, $500 to $5,000 fine, 12-month suspension of driver’s license, CRN evaluation, and AHSS attendance. Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for a Special Work License (OLL) after serving just part of your license suspension.
- Tier III BAC of .16 percent or higher – This would include offenses involving not just a BAC of .16 or higher, but may also include use of a controlled substance, or refusal to take the chemical testing for blood or breath.
The best possible outcome, if you are guilty of the offense, would be application and entry into the ARD program.
Call a First Offense DUI Lawyer Immediately
It’s important that you call a first offense DUI lawyer immediately after your arrest, so that you can protect all your rights as a first-time DUI offender. For example, you may eligible for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program – ARD for short – a program for first-time misdemeanor offenders. Successful completion of the program would remove the DUI from your criminal record. The Law Offices of Steven F. O’Meara can help you find the best solution to your DUI offense. Call us today at 610-565-9200 for a free consultation.