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Pennsylvania Driving Under the Influence Lawyer

Get help from an experienced DUI defense lawyer today

People make mistakes. Many people don’t realize just how dangerous even one drink can be. Some people have alcohol or drug dependency issues that need to be addressed. Often, the police are the ones who make the mistakes – because they don’t have legal grounds to stop you or they fail to conduct their investigation properly.

At the Law Office of Jason R. Carpenter, our Central PA DUI defense lawyers have the experience and resources to help you get justice if you are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. There are often defenses to the charges. You may be eligible for ARD, an alternate way to handle your charges. It may be possible to negotiate a plea reduction to a less offense such as reckless driving or speeding.

Generally, the police need to have grounds to stop you. Unless the police are conducting an authorized checkpoint stop, the police need some evidence to suggest you were driving under the influence – such as that you were swerving, speeding, or not staying in your lane. Once the police stop you, they normally ask drivers to submit to two types of tests:

Field sobriety tests.

The standard tests are:

  • The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test
  • The Walk and Turn Test
  • The One-Leg Stand Test

Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) tests

These tests measure the percentage of blood alcohol in your bloodstream. In most cases, the police will use a breathalyzer machine. In some cases, such as if you need to be hospitalized, they may use a blood test.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles, you can be charged with a DUI based on the following levels of your BAC:

  • Standard BAC level - .08 to .099 BAC. Drivers within this range are considered to have a general impairment level. The penalties are the least severe for this level.
  • High BAC level - .10 to .159 BAC.
  • Highest BAC level - .16 and higher
  • Commercial BAC level - .04 and higher

A urine test is often used to test for drugs.

What are the DUI penalties for the various BAC levels?

According to the Pennsylvania DMV, the penalties for DUI are as follows. When considering any prior offenses, the lookback period is normally 10 years. This means if you had a DUI conviction before 2010, then that DUI shouldn’t count against you if you are charged in 2021 or later.

Standard BAC level (.08-.099)

First offense. This offense is a misdemeanor.

  • You can be sentenced to up to 6 months of probation
  • The fine is $300.
  • You’ll need to attend an alcohol traffic safety program
  • You may be ordered to undergo additional treatment

Second offense. This is a misdemeanor.

  • Sentence. 5 days to 6 months
  • Fine. $300 to $2,500
  • License suspension. 12 months
  • Alcohol safety school and treatment (if ordered)
  • Ignition interlock device. When your license is restored, you’ll need to install and use this device which checks your BAC before you drive and while you drive – for up to 1 year.

The penalties increase for subsequent offenses.

High BAC. (.10 - .159)

First offense. This offense is a misdemeanor.

  • Sentence. 48 hours to 6 months.
  • Fines. $500 to $5,000.
  • Loss of license. 12 months
  • Alcohol safety program and treatment (if ordered)

A prior DUI offense. This is a misdemeanor.

  • Sentence. 30 days to 6 months.
  • Fine. $750 to $5,000
  • License Suspension. 12 months.
  • Alcohol safety school and treatment (if ordered)
  • Ignition interlock device. Up to 1 year.

The penalties increase if you have 2 or more prior DUI convictions.

Highest BAC. (.16 or more). This DUI crime is a misdemeanor.

Sentence. 72 hours to 6 months

  • Fine. $1,000 - $5,000.
  • License suspension. 12 months.
  • Alcohol traffic safety and treatment (if ordered)

Second offense. This is a 1st-degree misdemeanor.

  • Sentence. 90 days to 5 years.
  • Fine. $1,500 to $10,000.
  • License Suspension
  • Alcohol safety program and treatment (when ordered)
  • IID usage. 1 year

The penalties are more severe if this is your 3rd (or more) DUI offense.

Can you be accepted into an ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition) program for a DUI?

Generally, you can be accepted – if this is your first offense and you don’t have any prior DUIs. You will likely be disqualified if someone was hurt or killed or a child was in the car.

If your BAC is .10 or more (but less than .16) – your license will be suspended for 30 days. If your BAC is .16 or more, your license will be suspended for 60 days.

If you are accepted into a county ARD program, you will need to avoid any further criminal charges during the term of the program. You’ll also need to complete any conditions such as the completion of an alcohol or drug treatment program. If you complete the program, the government will not prosecute the DUI charges against you.

Are there any exceptions if my license is suspended?

Your license may be suspended if you have a DUI (depending on your BAC level and whether you have any prior convictions). Your license can also be suspended if you refused to submit to a field sobriety or a breath/blood test

Pennsylvania, according to the DMV, does provide for an IID exemption based on financial hardship – but only for 2nd and other vehicles. You’ll still need the IID on one vehicle. An IID exemption may be permitted during employment. Some limitations apply such as you can’t use the employment exemption if you drive a school bus or a vehicle larger than a passenger vehicle.

You may also be eligible for an occupational limited license after you serve your license suspension for 60 days.

What defenses are used in DUI cases?

Our skilled employment lawyers often assert that:

  • The police did not have grounds to stop you.
  • The police did not explain the tests to you and did not administer the tests properly
  • The breath machine used to evaluate your BAC did not comply with state or county validation checks such as inspections for accuracy.
  • Other defenses may apply depending on what happened.

If you’ve been arrested for a DUI, contact an experienced Pennsylvania DUI lawyer now

At the Law Office of Jason R. Carpenter, our skilled DUI defense lawyers seek to suppress evidence that was illegally obtained or that is invalid. We contest the police officer’s version of events. We explore alternatives such as ARD programs and plea negotiations. We’re ready to try your case in court when necessary. To speak with an experienced DUI lawyer, call us at: (717) 537-0928 or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment.

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