If you have been charged with drinking and driving, the decisions you make regarding your case could have profound consequences for your freedom, your record, your independence and your reputation. Before you plead guilty to a DUI charge, you should know the potential penalties contained in Pennsylvania’s criminal code.
Three DUI crimes
Pennsylvania has three levels of DUI charges: General Impairment, High BAC, and Highest BAC.
- General Impairment. This refers to cases where a person drove with a blood-alcohol content (BAL) of .08 to .099 percent.
- High BAC. To be convicted for High BAC DUI, a person must have driven with a BAL of .10 to .159 percent.
- Highest BAC. Finally, a person who commits Highest BAC has driven with a BAL of at least .16 percent.
The penalties attached to a conviction or guilty plea for these crimes depend on whether you have any prior convictions. With no prior DUIs on your record, the potential sentences include:
- General Impairment: Up to six months’ probation, a $300 fine, mandatory participation in alcohol highway safety school, possible court-ordered addiction treatment.
- High BAC: 48 hours to six months in jail, a $500 to $5,000 fine, driver’s license suspension for 12 months, alcohol highway safety school, possible court-ordered addiction treatment.
- Highest BAC: 72 hours to six months in jail, a fine of $1,500 to $10,000, driver’s license suspension for 12 months, alcohol highway safety school, possible court-ordered addiction treatment.
For a subsequent conviction, the penalties include longer periods of incarceration, required ignition interlock device installation in your vehicle, and fines of up to $10,000.
A DUI conviction can force you to go to jail. Even a relatively short sentence can cause you to lose your job. Even if you avoid jail, losing your driver’s license can take away your independence, and again put your job in jeopardy. Heavy fines are more than most people want or are able to pay.
Facing a DUI charge in Erie?
You need to know your options and make sure your legal rights are protected. The best way for you to do this is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to advise you and represent you in court.