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Overview of DUI law

One  of  the  main  crimes  under  the  Vehicle  Code  is Driving Under the
 of  Alcohol  or Controlled Substance (DUI). 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3802.
In  2003,  Pennsylvania  lowered  its threshold blood alcohol concentration
(BAC)  from  0.10%  to  0.08%.   See  former  75  Pa.C.S.A. § 3731(a)(4)(i)
(relating   to  driving  under  the  influence  of  alcohol  or  controlled
substance).   The  current  DUI  law provides that a person "may not drive,
operate or be in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle after
imbibing  a  sufficient  amount  of  alcohol  such  that  the individual is
rendered incapable of safely driving, operating or being in actual physical
control  of  the  movement  of  the  vehicle."   75  Pa.C.S.A.  §  3802(a).
Pennsylvania   adopted  a  three-tiered  approach  to  alcohol-related  DUI
offenses  based  upon  the alcohol concentration in an offender's breath or
blood.   The  BAC  levels do not relate to the time of driving, but instead
relate  to  the  BAC level at the time of testing, which must be within two
hours of driving.
Pennsylvania's three-tiered approach is as follows: (1) General impairment:
0.08%  to 0.099%; (2) High BAC: 0.10% to 0.159%; and (3) Highest BAC: 0.16%
and  up.   75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3802(a)(b)(c). Further, this DUI law provides the
following BAC levels for: (1) commercial drivers, a BAC of .04%; (2) school
bus drivers, a BAC of .02%; and (3) minors, a BAC of .02%.  The lowest tier
"general impaired" also includes circumstances where the offender's alcohol
concentration  is  not  known  but  the  offender  has imbibed a sufficient
quantity  of  alcohol  so  as  to be rendered incapable of safe driving. An
individual  who  has  either  a  controlled  substance  in his blood or who
refuses  to  provide  a  blood or breath sample faces the same penalty as a
third tier "highest BAC."  75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3804(c).
Penalties  range  from  probation,  house  arrest  and incarceration.  In
addition,  a  person convicted of DUI might be required to attend a highway
safety  school program, and pay fines and court costs.  The severity of the
penalties  increases  with  the  higher the BAC level, and with the overall
number of total DUIs convictions for that individual.  For example, a first
offense  general  impairment  DUI  carries the possibility of six months of
probation  with  a $300 fine; whereas a fourth or subsequent DUI conviction
can  result  in  a term of imprisonment of one year and possibly up to five
years of incarceration and a fine ranging from $1,500 up to $10,000.  Being
convicted of DUI can also affect an individual's life in a variety of ways,
such  as: loss of employment, the inability to be employed for certain jobs
in the future, higher insurance rates,  license suspension, and having that
conviction on your driving records for years, or possibly-forever.

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