Robert Andrews, Kim Riester
Pittsburgh Criminal Defense Attorneys

DUI

Driving Under the Influence

DUI Generally

The Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Law (75 Pa.C.S.A. 3802 et. seq.) creates a tiered approach toward DUI enforcement and treatment, and includes the grading of the offense, the penalties, and the terms of license suspension.  The combination of an individual's Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level, and prior offenses, determines the grading of the offense, the penalties, and the terms of license suspension.  The law focuses on treatment for first-time DUI offenders, rather than strictly punishment and suspension.  However, all DUI's are treated seriously and the vast majority require some time period of suspension.

The current law has three tiers of BAC, with the seriousness of the offense and related penalties increasing with the level of alcohol concentration:

  • General Impairment, .08% to .099%
  • High Rate, .10% to .159%
  • Highest Rate, over .160%  

Under the DUI law, minors, commercial drivers, school vehicle or bus drivers, and offenders involved in an accident that injures someone or causes property damage may be subject to the highest BAC penalties even if their BAC is not in the highest category. Offenders who refuse breath or chemical testing may be subject to the highest BAC penalties.

Further, any combination of drugs (prescription or otherwise) found in a person's blood can also subject them to the penalties associated with the highest rate.

The following are the statutory penalties for those convicted of a DUI:

General Impairment penalties (Undetermined BAC, .08 to .099% BAC)

No prior DUI offenses

  • ungraded misdemeanor
  • up to 6 months incarceration
  • $300 fine
  • alcohol highway safety school
  • treatment when ordered

1 prior DUI offense

  • ungraded misdemeanor
  • 12 month license suspension
  • 5 days to 6 months incarceration
  • $300 to $2,500 fine
  • alcohol highway safety school
  • treatment when ordered
  • 1 year ignition interlock

2 or more prior DUI offenses

  • 2nd degree misdemeanor
  • 12 month license suspension
  • 10 days to 2 years incarceration
  • $500 to $5,000 fine
  • treatment when ordered
  • 1 year ignition interlock

High BAC penalties (.10 to .159% BAC)

No prior DUI offenses

  • ungraded misdemeanor
  • 12 month license suspension
  • 48 hours to 6 months incarceration
  • $500 to $5,000 fine
  • alcohol highway safety school
  • treatment when ordered

1 prior DUI offense

  • ungraded misdemeanor
  • 12 month suspension
  • 30 days to 6 months incarceration
  • $750 to $5,000 fine
  • alcohol highway safety school
  • treatment when ordered
  • 1 year ignition interlock

2 or more prior DUI offenses

  • 1st degree misdemeanor
  • 18 month license suspension
  • 90 days to 5 years incarceration
  • $1,500 to $10,000 fine
  • treatment when ordered
  • 1 year ignition interlock

3 or more prior DUI offenses

  • 1st degree misdemeanor
  • 18 month license suspension
  • 1 to 5 years incarceration
  • $1,500 to $10,000 fine
  • treatment when ordered
  • 1 year ignition interlock

Highest BAC penalties (.16% and higher) or Controlled Substance

No prior DUI offenses

  • ungraded misdemeanor
  • 12 month license suspension
  • 72 hours to 6 months incarceration
  • $1,000 to $5,000 fine
  • alcohol highway safety school
  • treatment when ordered

1 prior DUI offense

  • 1st degree misdemeanor
  • 18 month license suspension
  • 90 days to 5 years incarceration
  • $1,500 to $10,00 fine
  • alcohol highway safety school
  • treatment when ordered
  • 1 year ignition interlock

2 or more prior DUI offenses

  • 1st degree misdemeanor
  • 18 month license suspension
  • 1 to 5 years incarceration
  • $2,500 to $10,000
  • treatment when ordered
  • 1 year ignition interlock

 


ARD

The law allows for eligible individuals the opportunity to be admitted to the ARD Program.  ARD stands for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition.  As previously mentioned, the DUI law focuses on rehabilitation when appropriate.  If accepted into the ARD program, individuals can avoid a conviction and will likely experience a shorter license suspension.

Additionally, succesfull completion of the ARD program allows a person to petition the court to have their record "expunged" or wiped clean.  Depending on the County, this expungement may happen automatically or you may have to take additional steps to ensure its completion.  


DUI Court / Treatment Court

For repeat offenders, DUI's can become very serious very quickly.  A third offense highest tier carries with it a mandatory period of incarceration of not less than 1 year nor more than 5 years.  "Mandatory" means that the judge has no ability to sentence an individual to anything less than that period of incarceration.

Many counties offer a DUI Court or Treatment Court program that allows an individual to avoid the lengthy period of mandatory incarceration if they voluntarily enter into a court-supervised treatment program.  These programs are very often extremely rigorous.  However, their goal is to fully rehabilitate the individual so that they never drink and drive again.  Many of these programs require years of electronic home monitoring and frequent court appearances for timely review of the person's progress.