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What are the different levels of DUI in Pennsylvania law?

Any DUI charges can have a significant impact on your life, but repeat convictions or convictions involving an elevated blood alcohol content (BAC) can be even more serious. Generally, Pennsylvania divides drunk driving charges based on the level of impairment: general impairment, high BAC or highest BAC.

General impairment involves a BAC of .08 to .099.

Pennsylvania law forbids driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher, recognizing this as general impairment. Penalties vary based on your history of criminal conviction, and can include:

  • First offense—Penalties include up to 6 months of probation, fines of $300, enrollment in a 12-hour alcohol education program and possible treatment.
  • Second offense—Penalties include a one-year license suspension, up to 6 months in prison, fines of up to $2,500, enrollment in an alcohol education program and possible treatment.
  • Third or subsequent offense—Penalties include a one-year license suspension, up to 2 years in prison, fines of up to $5,000, possible treatment and use of an ignition interlock device (IID) for one year.

It is important to note that if a person’s BAC is lower than .08, the authorities can still charge them with drunk driving if they are below the legal drinking age.

High BAC charges involve a BAC of .10 to .159.

Drivers who test at a higher-level face more serious penalties for a DUI conviction. This includes:

  • First offense—Penalties include up a one-year license suspension, up to 6 months in prison, fines of up to $5,000, enrollment in an alcohol education program and possible treatment.
  • Second offense—Penalties include a one-year license suspension, up to 6 months in prison, fines of up to $5,000, enrollment in an alcohol education program and possible treatment.
  • Third or subsequent offense—Penalties include an 18-month license suspension, up to 5 years in prison, fines of up to $10,000, possible treatment and use of an ignition interlock device (IID) for one year.

Highest BAC charges involve BAC .16.

Pennsylvania law applies particularly strict penalties to those driving with very high blood alcohol content levels as well as driving under the influence of a controlled substance. This includes:

  • First offense—Penalties include up a one-year license suspension, up to 6 months in prison, fines of up to $5,000, enrollment in an alcohol education program and possible treatment.
  • Second offense—Penalties include an 18-mont license suspension, up to 5 years in prison, fines of up to $10,000, enrollment in an alcohol education program, possible treatment and use of an ignition interlock device (IID) for one year.
  • Third or subsequent offense—Penalties include an 18-month license suspension, up to 5 years in prison, fines of up to $10,000, possible treatment and use of an ignition interlock device (IID) for one year.

These penalties also apply to those who refuse a breath test.

If you face DUI charges at any level, it can seriously impact your life and your freedom. Speaking to an attorney as soon as possible could be the best way to explore your legal options and begin building a defense that protects your rights.

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