Pennsylvania DUI Penalties

Pennsylvania DUI Penalties

There are three categories of offenses based on the blood alcohol content (BAC) as measured within two hours of driving, operating or controlling a motor vehicle:

a)  .08%-.099%

b)  .10% – .159%

c)  .16% and higher and any case where the driver tested positive for certain levels of certain drugs or refused to take a chemical test when a police officer had probable cause to suspect DUI

A conviction of any level of DUI offense will trigger a mandatory Court Reporting Network (CRN) evaluation. First or second offenders must take Alcohol Highway Safety (AHSS) classes. Those falling into the highest tier or having a prior offense must take a Drug and Alcohol assessment and undergo treatment. Anyone who has previously been convicted of DUI must install an Ignition Interlock System in all vehicles they own and only drive a vehicle with such a system.

FIRST OFFENSE (NO PRIOR PA DUI OFFENSES WITHIN THE LAST 10 YEARS)

.08% to .099% category: A DUI falling in this range is an ungraded misdemeanor with a 6 month maximum sentence, no mandatory minimum jail time (normally probation) and a fine of $300.00. The Court Reporting Network Evaluation and Highway Safety School are required in this category and it is possible that treatment would be required. There is no license suspension in this category.

.10% to .159%. A DUI in this category is an ungraded misdemeanor with a mandatory minimum 48 hour jail sentence and a 6 month maximum sentence. The fine can range from $500.00 to $5,000.00. The Court Reporting Network evaluation is required as well as Highway Safety School and likely treatment. There is a mandatory 12 month license suspension which can be mitigated by the possibility of obtaining an Occupational Limited License (OLL) (work license or bread and butter license) after 2 months.

.16% or higher or drugs or refusal. This is an ungraded misdemeanor with a mandatory minimum 72 hour jail sentence and a maximum sentence of 6 months and a $1,000.00 to $5,000.00 fine. The Court Reporting Network Evaluation and Highway Safety school are required as well as treatment. The license suspension is 12 months with the possibility of an OLL after 2 months.

SECOND OFFENSE

.08% to .099%. This is an ungraded misdemeanor with a mandatory minimum 5 day jail sentence and a maximum imprisonment of 6 months and a $300.00 to $2,500.00 fine. The license suspension is 12 months. A Court Reporting Network evaluation is required and the driver must comply with the treatment directed and attend Highway Safety school and suffer Ignition Interlock for 12 months.

.10% to .159%. This is ungraded misdemeanor with a mandatory minimum 30 days jail and 6 month maximum jail sentence. There is a $750.00 to $5,000.00 fine accompanied by a license suspension for 12 months. A Court Reporting Network evaluation is required and the driver must comply with the treatment directed and attend Highway Safety school and suffer Ignition Interlock for 12 months.

.16% or higher or drugs or refusal. Graded as a misdemeanor of the first degree with a mandatory minimum 90 days jail and a 5 year maximum jail sentence. The fine can range between $ 1,500.00 to $10,000.00. A Court Reporting Network evaluation is required and the driver must comply with the treatment directed and attend Highway Safety school and suffer Ignition Interlock for 12 months. There is a twelve month license suspension.

THIRD OFFENSE

.08% to .099%. This is a misdemeanor of the second degree with a mandatory minimum 10 day imprisonment and a 2 year maximum jail sentence and a $500.00 to $5,000.00 fine. The license suspension is for 12 months. A Court Reporting Network evaluation is required and the driver must comply with the treatment directed and attend Highway Safety school and suffer Ignition Interlock for 12 months.

.10% to .159%. This is graded as a misdemeanor of the first degree which means it is punishable by up to 5 years in jail with a mandatory 90 days imprisonment and a $1,500.00 to $10,000.00 fine. The license suspension is increased to 18 months. A Court Reporting Network evaluation is required and the driver must comply with the treatment directed and attend Highway Safety school and suffer Ignition Interlock for 12 months.

.16% or higher or drugs or a refusal. This is graded as a misdemeanor of the first degree with a mandatory minimum 1 year imprisonment and a 5 year maximum jail sentence and a $ 2,500.00 to $10,000.00 fine. The license suspension is for 18 months. A Court Reporting Network evaluation is required and the driver must comply with the treatment directed and attend Highway Safety school and suffer Ignition Interlock for 12 months.

FOURTH OFFENSE

Any offense beyond a third offense is treated the same as a third offense, although the Judge can certainly take into consideration that the person has more than three offenses and go beyond the mandatory minimum sentence.

CHART
PA DUI with BAC between .08% and .099%

DUI Offense

BAC .08-.099% Penalty

1st Offense
  • Probation no longer than 6 months;
  • $300 fine;
  • Attend Alcohol Highway Safety School; and
  • Comply with the Drug and Alcohol treatment requirements
2nd Offense
  • Mandatory 5 days in jail, but may be up to 60 days;
  • Fine between $300 and $2,500;
  • Attend Alcohol Highway Safety School;
  • Loss of License for 1 year;
  • Ignition Interlock system in car for 1 year;
  • Full Drug and Alcohol assessment
3rd Offense
  • Mandatory 10 days in jail, but may be up to 2 years;
  • Fine between $500 and $5,000;
  • Loss of License for 1 year;
  • Ignition Interlock system in car for 1 year;
  • Full Drug and Alcohol assessment

PA DUI w/BAC between .10% and .159% or Injury

If your DUI charge includes:

  • a BAC between .10% and .159%, or
  • involved in an accident resulting in bodily injury, serious bodily injury or death of any person or in damage to a vehicle or other property are as follows:

DUI Offense

Penalty BAC .1 – .159%

1st Offense
  • Mandatory 48 hours in jail, but may be up to 6 months;
  • Fine between $500 and $5,000;
  • Attend Alcohol Highway Safety School;
  • Loss of License for 1 year;
  • Full Drug and Alcohol assessment
2nd Offense
  • Mandatory 30 days in jail, but may be up to 6 months;
  • Fine between $750 and $5,000;
  • Attend Alcohol Highway Safety School;
  • Loss of License for 1 year;
  • Ignition Interlock system in car for 1 year;
  • Full Drug and Alcohol assessment
3rd Offense
  • Mandatory 90 days in jail, but may be up to 5 years;
  • Fine between $1,500 and $10,000;
  • Loss of License for 18 months;
  • Ignition Interlock system in car for 1 year;
  • Full Drug and Alcohol assessment

PA DUI with BAC of .16% or Over
as follows:

Offense

Penalty over .159% BAC

1st Offense
  • Mandatory 72 hours in jail, but may be up to 6 months;
  • Fine between $1,000 and $5,000;
  • Attend Alcohol Highway Safety School;
  • Loss of License for 1 year;
  • Full Drug and Alcohol assessment
2nd Offense
  • Mandatory 90 days in jail, but may be up to 5 years;
  • Fine between $1,500 and $10,000;
  • Attend Alcohol Highway Safety School;
  • Loss of License for 18 months;
  • Ignition Interlock system in car for 1 year;
  • Full Drug and Alcohol assessment
3rd Offense
  • Mandatory 1 year in jail, but may be up to 5 years;
  • Fine $2,500 to $10,000
  • Loss of License for 18 months;
  • Ignition Interlock system in car for 1 year;
  • Full Drug and Alcohol assessment

Under Pennsylvania law, prior DUI offenses, for purposes of determining whether the person is a multiple offender, are calculated as occurring within the previous 10-year period.

Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program

Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition, or “ARD”, is a pre-trial intervention program that is designed to divert first-time, non-violent offenders from the criminal justice process. Many people who apply for admission into the Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition (ARD) Program in PA are people who have been charged with Driving Under the Influence / DUI.

The Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition (ARD) Program suspends the criminal justice process while the person is on ARD probation and complies with certain conditions. If a person successfully completes the ARD program, the charges are legally dismissed.

To be admitted into the Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition (ARD) Program, on a DUI or any other charge in PA, a person must be recommended by the District Attorney’s Office. A judge may not admit a person into the ARD Program on his or her own. After the DA’s Office recommends someone for admission into the ARD Program, a judge decides, at a hearing, whether to accept the recommendation.

A person makes application for admission into the ARD Program by submitting an application to the DA’s Office prior to any application deadlines. The DA’s Office then makes a decision whether to recommend a person for admission into the ARD program. For the most part, this decision cannot be appealed.

It is important to note that the Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition (ARD) Program is a pre-trial program, meaning that a person must apply for admission into the ARD program prior to trial. If a person chooses to exercise his or her right to a trial and is convicted, that person may not then be admitted into the ARD program. Accordingly, it is important to carefully evaluate any potential trial issues in the early stages of the criminal justice process and before the deadline for applying for admission into the ARD Program.

Decision to Seek Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition (ARD) Program on a DUI Charge

Attorneys and clients should carefully evaluate whether admission into the Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition (ARD) Program is truly the best option. Attorneys who automatically assume a client should apply for ARD, without evaluating the strength of the Commonwealth of PA’s case, can do their clients a disservice.

There are many factors – including the strengths and weaknesses of the Commonwealth’s case – that the client and attorney should carefully consider in making this determination. Any decision to apply for admission into the Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition (ARD) Program should only be made after the attorney has fully evaluated the case and discussed with the client the available options and the consequences of every course of action.

If the Commonwealth of PA has a strong case, and the person may qualify for admission into the Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition (ARD) Program, the person may decide to seek admission into the ARD program. There are certainly many benefits to the ARD Program as opposed to a conviction. These benefits include:

  • No jail time. A person who is accepted into the ARD Program in PA avoids mandatory minimum prison sentences which accompany most DUI convictions.
  • Greatly reduced license suspension. People who are admitted into the ARD Program will have a DUI license suspension that is far less then the one-year PA license suspension that accompanies most DUI convictions. In Montgomery County, PA, people with lawyers may apply for the “ARD Fast Track” Program which can result in a PA license suspension of as little as one or two months.
  • Expungement of criminal charges. People who successfully complete all the terms and conditions of the ARD Program in PA are eligible to have all records of the arrest and ARD disposition expunged (destroyed) from PA government agency files and databanks.

By statute, PA county district attorneys offices are permitted to have their own unique criteria and conditions for admission into an ARD Program. It is important to understand that cases that may qualify for ARD in one county might not for another.

It is important to note that when a person is charged with DUI following an accident with injuries or property damage, he or she may not be entitled to admission into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program. In such cases it is critically important to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Expungement of DUI / ARD Dispositions

People who successfully complete the ARD Program in PA may petition the court to have their criminal record expunged. Criminal records should be expunged, if possible, so that employee background checks do not uncover records of the arrest and ARD disposition. To do this one must obtain a court order providing that all records connected with the charge be expunged and destroyed. This order should direct all recipients to produce an affidavit assuring that all documents relating to the arrest — including mug shots and fingerprint records — have been destroyed.

Some people retain lawyers for expungement services who obtain a court order of expungement but do not aggressively follow up with every PA or federal agency possessing records of the arrest. This defeats the purpose of seeking an expungement. A person petitioning for expungement is seeking a clean criminal record so that a background check does not uncover an arrest. Obviously, a signed court order mandating that PA or federal agencies destroy criminal records is worthless if the agencies do not actually comply with the order. If the expungement attorney has not followed through to make sure people comply with the court order, the background check may uncover the old arrest.

This is why it is important to retain an attorney who will put forth the time and effort to make absolutely certain your record is legally and physically expunged.