Pennsylvania’s DUI laws changed in 2003 with the passage of Act 24. This act lowered the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) from 0.10% to 0.08%. The law also created a tiered system for categorizing DUI offenses. The tiers are divided based on the amount of alcohol in the system. Each tier has different penalties depending on the number of offenses.
Pennsylvania’s tier system consists of general impairment, high BAC, and highest BAC. General impairment is the tier used when the BAC is 0.08%-0.99%. High BAC is the charge when the BAC is 0.10% to 0.159%. If the BAC is 0.16% or higher, the offender is charged in the highest BAC tier.
The penalties for driving while intoxicated depend on the number of convictions and the tier. If a first-time offender is convicted of a general impairment DUI, the penalty is up to six months of probation and a $300 fine. The offender also must complete traffic safety school.
The steepest penalties are reserved for those who are convicted of the highest BAC DUI. Those who have two or more previous offenses will have their licenses suspended for 18 months and will be sentenced to one to five years in prison. The fine is $2,500-$10,000, and the judge might order treatment.
In the past, DUIs were always misdemeanors in Pennsylvania. A new law has changed the classification of some DUIs. People who are convicted of a fourth DUI have committed a felony. The third conviction can also be a felony if the BAC is 0.16% or more.
Previously, Pennsylvanians who killed someone due to driving under the influence could expect three years in prison, regardless of the number of DUI convictions. Now, if a person is convicted of vehicular homicide while driving under the influence and already has a DUI conviction will be sentenced to a minimum of five years in prison. The minimum sentence goes up to seven years for those who have two previous convictions for driving while intoxicated.
People who are convicted of two or more DUIs must get an ignition interlock system. The driver is required to blow into the system in order to make the vehicle start. If the system detects alcohol, the vehicle will not start. Drivers also must blow into the device when prompted during the operation of the vehicle.
Pennsylvania’s DUI laws have changed a great deal over the years. Now, it is possible to commit a felony while driving under the influence. It is also possible to spend a significant amount of time in prison, have an interlock ignition system installed, and receive other penalties. If you have been convicted of a DUI, seek legal counsel. Your lawyer will go over your case and the evidence to determine if it is possible to reduce the penalties or fight the charges.
Call to schedule a consultation with Kim A. Bodnar, Attorney at Law in our Pittsburgh office.
NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
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