Level of intoxication considered in sentencing Pennsylvania DUI cases

Schools throughout Pennsylvania are providing students an opportunity to drive in the Allegheny County Alcohol Highway Safety Program's DUI Safety SIMulator. The virtual experience allows students to practice operating a vehicle in a simulated world. During the simulation, the "driver" can also experience how the use of alcohol impacts his or her driving abilities. The level of impairment can be controlled, allowing students to experience the types of difficulties drivers may face after consuming a small or even large amount of alcohol.

The different levels of impairment are important in Pennsylvania, since the state uses various tiers of impairment when sentencing drivers convicted for driving under the influence, or DUI.

Tiers of impairment in Pennsylvania

There are three tiers of impairment:

  • General impairment. This tier is defined as those who have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 to 0.099 percent. If there are no prior DUIs on record, the individual could face up to six months of probation, a $300 fine and alcohol safety school. If a prior DUI is on record, the penalties increase in severity. The individual could face a 12 month license suspension, up to six months imprisonment and up to a $2,500 fine.
  • High BAC. This level is defined as those with a BAC of 0.10 to 0.159 percent. Sentences can include a 12 month license suspension, 48 hours to six months imprisonment and a $500 to $5,000 monetary fine. If a prior DUI is on record, the penalties can increase to include a mandatory ignition interlock device installation for one year.
  • Highest BAC. This tier includes those with a BAC of 0.16 percent and higher. Criminal penalties include 72 hours to six months imprisonment and a $1,000 to $5,000 monetary fine. If a previous DUI is on record these penalties increase to include up to $10,000 fine and up to five years in prison.

The criminal penalties associated with the charges can continue to increase in severity if repeat DUI charges are on record.

Defenses available to DUI charges in Pennsylvania

It is clear that authorities in Pennsylvania take DUI charges very seriously. As a result, those charged with a DUI should take the charges seriously before they become a conviction with steep penalties.

Enforcement officers are required to follow the law when stopping a driver suspected of driving under the influence. If these laws are not followed, any evidence gathered during the stop may not be allowed in court. This could lead to a dismissal or reduction of charges. In some cases, an individual may be eligible to participate in the accelerated rehabilitative disposition (ARD) program. If this program is completed the charge is dismissed.

These are just a few options available to those charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania. Contact an experienced Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney to discuss your case and review your legal options.