by: Stephen Sebald

Driving under the influence is one of the most dangerous crimes for public safety and results in a huge percentage of vehicle related deaths in the United States. As such, there are also serious legal penalties associated with DUIs in the state of Pennsylvania, which are important to know if you’re being charged with a DUI, or aren’t sure the legal repercussions of one are. Often misunderstood as a less serious crime, a driving under the influence conviction can have serious long term consequences on your driving future.

First Offense: For the first offense of a DUI, there is no minimum jail time required but there is a penalty of a $300 fine. Your license will not necessarily be suspended. In determining additional offenses, this first DUI conviction will be relevant for the next ten years, with increasingly harsh penalties for repeat offenders.

Second Offense: When a first offense penalty didn’t have much of an impact, the subsequent penalties begin to get much harsher. There’s a minimum jail sentence imposed of five days to six months and your license will be immediately suspended for a full year. On top of those, you will also be fined a minimum of $300, or up to $2,500.

Third Offense: For a third offense, you’ll be required to spend a minimum of ten days in jail, with possible sentences of up to two full years in incarceration. The financial penalties range from $500 to $5,000, and your license will also be suspended for a year.

Penalty Tiers: Regardless of offense number, there are also increased levels of penalties by blood alcohol content. If you’re driving just above the legal limit of .08% and are either age 21 of or over, you will have a lower penalty than someone who has had much more to drink in their system. The penalty tiers are stationed at .08%, .10%, and .16% and up.

If you’re under 21, it’s illegal to consume alcohol at any rate, so the legal limit is enough to indicate that you had been drinking—just .02% BAC is enough to warrant a DUI for an underage minor. Determining your blood alcohol content is a tricky proposition, and popular tools can be inconclusive compared to a police breathalyzer. BAC also relies on a number of highly individualized factors, such as gender and weight. However, to get an unofficial idea of your blood alcohol content and personal drinking limits, checking out a BAC calculator can be a useful way to determine your specified number of drinks in a social environment.

Chemical Test Refusal: In the state of Pennsylvania, officers operate under the ‘implied consent law’, which means that if you refuse to take a chemical test while being accused of a DUI, you will automatically be fined and have your license suspended for a year on the first offense and 18 months for the second and third offenses. It is usually in your best interests to comply with the chemical test requirements if you want to keep your license privileges in the near future.

As you can see from the above listed consequences, being convicted of driving under the influence is a serious matter that you shouldn’t take lightly.  What we didn’t mention are the additional ramifications; having a DUI on your record can affect your current and future employment opportunities—especially if your job requires driving. It’s also important to note that most colleges and universities don’t accept students with this type of conviction, and if you receive scholarship money, you can potentially lose it. In short, it’s imperative to seek legal assistance immediately if you have been charged with driving under the influence.  Give us a call at Sebald, Hackwelder, & Knox; with a combined 25 years of experience and an 8.1 Avvo rating, we have the skills you need to beat your charge: (814) 833-1987.