Should I Expect Jail Time for a First DUI? | Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys
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Should I Expect Jail Time for a First DUI?

If you’ve been charged with a DUI for the first time, you’re likely feeling scared and confused by the charges that have been brought against you. Many people facing a first-time offense wonder if they should expect to serve jail time for a first DUI and want to know more about any additional penalties that might be inflicted.

At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC, we’ve helped numerous individuals facing first-time DUIs fight their charges and avoid jail time altogether. The good news is this: not all first-time DUI offenders end up incarcerated. But some do—if convicted—depending on a number of factors, including the amount of alcohol in a person’s bloodstream and whether bodily injury or property damage occurred. To avoid the worst possible penalties, it’s always a good idea to contact a Pittsburgh DUI attorney as soon as possible following your DUI arrest.

Pennsylvania’s Three-Tiered DUI Penalty System

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania uses a three-tiered penalty system for DUIs wherein penalties worsen as a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) increases. If your BAC at the time of your first DUI falls below or within the levels defined by tier 1, you likely won’t face incarceration for your first-time DUI.

  • Tier 1—08 to .099 BAC—No incarceration: If you’re found operating a motor vehicle with a BAC at this level, you can face an ungraded misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months probation, up to $300 in fines, and court-ordered participation in a treatment program. At this level, an offender does not face incarceration.
  • Tier 2—.10 to .159 BAC—48 hours minimum incarceration: Those with BACs in the tier 2 range face an ungraded misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months license suspension, up to $500-$5,000 in fines, and court-ordered participation in a drug and alcohol treatment program. At this tier, a first-time DUI offender faces 48 hours to 6 months incarceration.
  • Tier 3—.16 and higher BAC—72 hours minimum incarceration: First-time DUI offenders with a BAC at .16 or higher faces the harshest first-time DUI penalties, including an ungraded misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months license suspension, up to $1,000-$5,000 in fines, and court-ordered participation in a treatment program. At this level, an offender faces 72 hours to 6 months incarceration.

Additional Factors That Can Lead to First-Time DUI Incarceration

Beyond BAC levels, additional factors can influence whether a person will face incarceration for his or her first-time DUI. These include:

  • Underage driving — A minor with a BAC at or above .02 can face up to 6 months incarceration
  • Driving a commercial or school vehicle — Operators of commercial and school vehicles with BAC levels above .04 can face up to 6 months incarceration
  • Cases involving bodily injury — When bodily injury results from a DUI accident, an offender can be charged with up to 6 months incarceration
  • Accidents resulting in damage to personal property — If an accident occurs in which a vehicle or other property is damaged, an offender can face up to 6 months incarceration
  • DUIs resulting in death — When a person dies as a result of a first-time DUI accident, an offender can be charged with up to 6 months incarceration

How Our Experienced Pittsburgh DUI Attorneys Can Help You Avoid Jail Time for a First DUI

Being charged with a first-time DUI can be a frightening experience often leading to questions about possible incarceration and fines. If you’ve been charged with a DUI—whether it’s your first DUI or not—contact one of the skilled Pittsburgh DUI lawyers at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC today. We can review your case through a free, initial consultation, and advise you on the best possible defense strategy to help you avoid ending up behind bars. Call us at (412) 281-2146.

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