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Is a Pennsylvania DUI ever charged as a felony offense?

Impaired driving charges are among the most common reasons that people in Pennsylvania get arrested. Police officers stop those who seem to struggle with driving and also perform chemical tests on those involved in collisions. Those who fail chemical tests or display impaired ability could end up facing criminal charges.

Individuals arrested after an alleged driving under the influence (DUI) incident could be subject to numerous penalties if convicted. The specific consequences that the state may impose for DUI convictions depend on what charges the state pursues and someone’s prior record.

Most DUI charges are classified as misdemeanor offenses

The vast majority of DUI cases in Pennsylvania involve misdemeanor charges. The specific charges that Pennsylvania prosecutors bring against someone accused of intoxication while driving will depend on someone’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of their arrest.

Those with BACs just over the legal limit will likely face less serious accusations than those with test results well over the legal limit. Prosecutors also review someone’s prior criminal record when determining the charges someone will face. A first offense without any aggravating factors could lead to six months of probation, $300 in fines and possibly treatment or alcohol highway safety school. A third basic DUI could lead to prison for up to two years.

However, even someone with a very high BAC and multiple prior DUI charges will usually face misdemeanor charges. The one exception to that rule is when a drunk driver causes injury to others. If someone under the influence of alcohol or drugs causes a collision that leads to another person’s injury or someone dying, then state prosecutors will likely pursue felony charges related to the impaired driving incident.

In almost all other cases, motorists accused of intoxication at the wheel will face some form of misdemeanor charge. Yet, regardless of how an offense is classified, fighting back against a DUI charge can protect someone from a life-altering criminal record and/or the possibility of enhanced penalties if they get arrested again in the future.


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