First DUI Offense Penalties

Drunk driving arrests can be scary experiences for drivers. Stopping for a casual drink on the way home with co-workers is enough to find a person in such a situation. Understanding Pennsylvania penalties for a first DUI offense can be helpful in navigating an otherwise daunting situation.

Identification Of Intoxication

Many states impose felony charges for DUI offenses, but Pennsylvania does not. Since lowering the level of alcohol required in the blood to determine intoxication in 2003, the state has followed a tiered approach with respect to DUI penalties.

The driver's blood alcohol content (BAC) as well as prior offenses are taken into consideration in the process. In addition, arrests involving minors, commercially licensed drivers or accidents that cause damage or serious bodily injury can also make the charges and penalties harsher for drivers.

There are three levels of intoxication under Pennsylvania law. The first is referred to as general impairment and is the charge for people found to have blood alcohol levels between 0.08 percent and 0.99 percent. The second is called high BAC and is charged when BAC levels are between 0.10 and 0.159 percent. Highest BAC is the charge for those with blood alcohol levels of 0.16 percent or greater.

Pennsylvania focuses heavily on treatment for first offenses rather than taking a harsh punitive approach, although some drivers with first convictions can face costly consequences.

What Are The Penalties For First-Time DUI Convictions?

The Pennsylvania Driving Under the Influence Association outlines the basic penalties for a first offense as follows:

  • For those charged with general impairment, penalties can include a probation period up to six months and a fine up to $300.
  • For those charged with high BAC, penalties can include between two days and six months in jail, fines between $500 and $5,000 and a one-year driver's license suspension.
  • For those charged with highest BAC, penalties can include between three days and six months in jail, fines between $1,000 and $5,000 and a one-year driver's license suspension.

Each of these offenses is classified as an ungraded misdemeanor. Drug and alcohol assessments can also be ordered in these cases.

What Should Defendants Do?

As soon as a DUI arrest is made, defendants should seek private legal counsel. Getting the right defense help can be highly important for people facing drunk driving charges.

We urge you to call us as soon as you arrested for DUI or for any serious traffic offense. Contact us day or night in West Chester at 610-314-7066 — or email us your questions.