Will I Go to Jail for DUI? | Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys
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Worgul, Sarna & Ness

CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEYS, LLC

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Will I Go to Jail for DUI?

In 2004, as a response to a federal law that linked the distribution of federal highway money to states which reduce their DUI blood alcohol content (BAC) thresholds to .08, Pennsylvania changed its DUI laws to conform to this DUI standard. Under the law, the penalties for first-time DUI offenders were reduced, while second and subsequent offenders’ penalties were increased. If you now face a DUI charge in Pennsylvania, it’s important to have a knowledgeable and experienced Pittsburgh DUI attorney on your side to help you understand the revised law and the possible consequences of your charge.

The consequences of a DUI conviction can be serious and last many years, or even potentially a lifetime. Therefore, it’s vitally important to have an aggressive Pittsburgh DUI attorney on your side from the outset. At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC, we are here to fight for your rights and build a strong defense on your behalf to minimize the penalties and consequences you face in the aftermath of your DUI charge.

Call us today at (412) 281-2146 or contact us online to schedule a free and confidential consultation about your case.

DUI Law in Pennsylvania

Under the revised PA DUI laws, defendants with higher BACs face stiffer penalties than those with lower BACs. For instance, an individual with a .20 BAC faces significantly higher penalties than an individual with a .08 or .10 BAC. The law prior to 2004 did not make this distinction regarding penalties.

Although no minimum jail time is required under PA law for first-time DUI offenders having a BAC below .10 at the time of the offense, those with a BAC of .10 or higher, as well as second and subsequent DUI offenders, do face minimum jail sentences. As well, first-time offenders having a minor in the car at the time of the offense may be sentenced to jail time.

Pennsylvania’s Three-Tiered DUI System

The state of Pennsylvania has developed a three-tiered DUI system that sentences those convicted of DUI offenses based on the individual’s BAC level at the time of driving. If you are found to have a BAC of .08 or higher while driving a motor vehicle, you may be charged with a DUI.

The three levels of impairment defined under Pennsylvania law are as follows:

1.General Impairment

  • BAC of .08 to .099
  • Individual not capable of safely driving motor vehicle
  • No personal injury or property damage occurred

2.High Impairment

  • BAC of .10 to .159
  • BAC of .02 to .159 with a minor in the car
  • General Impairment BAC level with an accident occurring
  • School Bus Driver BAC of .02 to .159
  • Commercial Vehicle driver BAC of .04 to .159

3.Highest Impairment

  • BAC of .16 or greater
  • Individual refuses a chemical test
  • DUI with a controlled substance

Penalties for First, Second, and Subsequent DUI Offenders in PA

Below is a review of Pennsylvania’s DUI laws as well as some ways in which the penalties against you may be minimized if you are convicted of a drunk driving charge. Never simply plead guilty to a DUI charge without first consulting with an experienced Pittsburgh DUI attorney.

First Time DUI Offenders

As a first time offender with a BAC below 0.10, you may not be required to spend time in jail, and your driver’s license may not be revoked. However, you may be required to pay a $300 fine, be placed on probation for up to six months, pay any other court costs and fees, and attend alcohol safety classes.

If your BAC is greater than 0.099, the penalties increase to include a short amount of jail time as well as a loss of your license for one year.

BAC 0.100-0.159:

  • Minimum of 48 hours in jail
  • Maximum of six months in jail
  • $500 to $5000 in fines
  • Drug and Alcohol Assessment
  • Attend Alcohol Safety School classes

BAC 0.16 and higher:

  • Minimum of 72 hours in jail
  • Maximum of six months in jail
  • $1000 to $5000 in fines
  • Drug and Alcohol Assessment
  • Attend Alcohol Safety School classes

Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition

The state of Pennsylvania enables first-time DUI offenders with the opportunity to bypass jail time and lessen the period of their license suspension by attending an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. Requirements of ARD include attending Alcohol Safety School, as well as participating in community service and counseling.

The prosecutor in your case will determine whether or not you can participate in ARD. If your DUI resulted in serious injury to another person, your request to participate in ARD may be declined.

Upon completion of the program, your DUI charges will be dismissed. Depending on the county in which you were charged, the court may also place you on probation for at least one year.

Second Time and Subsequent DUI Offenders

If within 10 years of a previous DUI conviction, you are convicted a second or subsequent DUI charge, you will face mandatory jail time, the suspension of your driver’s license for at least one year, and fines that range from $300 to $10,000. The actual penalties you face will be based on your BAC level and the number of your past DUI convictions.

The general penalty structure for a second, third, and subsequent DUI convictions are as follows:

Second DUI Offense Penalties

General Impairment

  • Five days to six months in prison
  • One year driver’s license suspension
  • $300 to $2,500 fine

High Impairment

  • 30 days to six months in prison
  • One year driver’s license suspension
  • $750 to $5,000 fine

Highest Impairment (First Degree Misdemeanor)

  • 90 days to five years in prison
  • 18-month driver’s license suspension
  • $1,500 to $10,000 fine

Third and Subsequent DUI Offense Penalties

General Impairment (Second Degree Misdemeanor)

  • 10 days to two years in prison
  • One year driver’s license suspension
  • $500 to $5,000 fine

High Impairment (First Degree Misdemeanor)

  • 90 days to five years in prison
  • 18 months driver’s license suspension
  • $1,500 to $10,000 fine

Highest Impairment (First Degree Misdemeanor)

  • One year to five years in prison
  • 18-month driver’s license suspension
  • $2,500 to $10,000 fine

Although accused repeat offenders face mandatory jail time, license suspensions, and heavy fines, it is important to understand that a highly experienced DUI attorney on your side can make a difference by potentially minimizing some of the standard negative DUI outcomes through effective negotiation with the prosecution and/or skillful defense at trial.

Contact an Experienced Pittsburgh DUI Attorney

Whether you are accused of a first, second, or subsequent DUI charge, it’s important to contact an experienced Pittsburgh DUI lawyer in order to mitigate, or when possible eliminate, penalties against you. Our legal team at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC is prepared to stand behind you with a strong and intelligent defense in order to protect your rights.

Call us today at (412) 281-2146 to request a free case evaluation with one of our skilled attorneys.

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