Guide / Legal / Three Levels of DUI Penalties in Pennsylvania

Three Levels of DUI Penalties in Pennsylvania

Updated on February 16, 2022 | by Austin

DUI Penalties in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania revamped its DUI laws back in 2004. The revised laws increased penalties for the defendants with higher blood alcohol content (BAC) than those with lower ones. In addition, they lowered the fines for first-time offenders, and the penalties for repeat offenders were increased. 

As of recent, there are three tiers of DUI based on blood alcohol content:

  • general impairment
  • high rate
  • highest rate

There are times when people confuse the high rate and the highest rate, so to clarify things, the high rate is considered the medium rate, and the highest is considered a high rate. So let’s go and take a deep dive into each of the tiers below and their mandatory minimum sentence.

Aside from DUI having a mandatory minimum offense, DUI is also considered a stacking offense. This means that the penalties will increase every time a person is convicted of a subsequent DUI. 

The look-back provision for determining prior DUI convictions is ten years. This period runs from your last conviction date to the new offense date. So, for example, if you were placed on ARD (accelerated rehabilitative disposition) on June 1, 2009, and arrested for a second DUI on May 1, 2019, it will still count as a second offense for mandatory minimum purposes. 

General Impairment

A general impairment DUI is only charged when a driver’s blood alcohol content is between .08 and .10. If a driver declines to take a chemical test, the DUI will be charged as “general impairment”. However, it will carry the same penalty as the highest rate of DUI.

To establish consistency among DUI convictions, here’s a list of the mandatory minimum sentence for first-time offenders under general impairment

  • probation should not exceed six months
  • pay a $300 fine
  • attend DUI classes
  • if ordered by the Court, they may require you to go for a drug and alcohol treatment

In addition, there is no mandatory jail time, and you will not lose your driver’s license if you are a first-time offender.

The mandatory minimum sentence for second offense DUI will usually depend on your BAC, and here are the details of the mandatory minimum sentence:

  • five to six months in county jail
  • one year driver’s license suspension
  • penalty between $300 to $2,500
  • DUI classes
  • when the Court may require you to attend drug and alcohol treatment
  • a guardian interlock must be installed on all vehicles after the driver’s license is restored

Usually, a second offense under general impairment is quite rare because people who receive a second DUI are those drivers with high alcohol tolerance. 

High Rate or Medium Rate

A high rate or medium rate DUI is charged when a driver’s blood alcohol content is between .10 and .159. Here’s a list of the mandatory minimum sentence for those who fall under high or medium rate

  • 48 hours in jail
  • six months of parole
  • one year driver’s license suspension
  • pay a $500 fine, but this will depend on the discretion of the Court, and it may go as high as $5,000
  • attend DUI classes
  • the Court may also require you to go for a drug and alcohol treatment

For second-time offenders, the mandatory minimum sentence under the middle tier DUI are as follows:

  • 30 days to 6 months stay in county jail
  • one year driver’s license suspension
  • penalty between $750 to $5,000
  • DUI classes
  • when the Court may require you to attend drug and alcohol treatment
  • a guardian interlock must also be installed on all vehicles after the driver’s license is restored

Highest Rate or High Rate

The highest DUI rate is charged when the driver’s BAC is over .160, and here’s a list of the mandatory minimum sentence for those who fall under this category

  • 72 hours in jail
  • six months of parole
  • one year driver’s license suspension
  • pay a $100 fine, but this can also go as high as $5,000

In addition, all drug DUIs are charged at the highest rate even when a driver is found to have trace amounts of cannabinoids in his blood. 

The mandatory minimum sentence for second-time offenders under the highest tier DUI, as well as those with any illegal drug combination or even chemical test refusal, are as follows:

  • ninety days to five years incarceration
  • eighteen months driver’s license suspension
  • penalty between $1,500 to $10,000
  • DUI classes
  • the Court will surely require you to attend drug and alcohol treatment
  • a guardian interlock must also be installed on all vehicles after the driver’s license is restored

As for third-time offenders’ penalties are higher in price and more prolonged in time. 

Final thoughts

If you are indicted with a DUI, it is critical to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. If you ever find yourself in a DUI case in Harrisburg, PA you might ask yourself, How can I find the best DUI in Harrisburg PA

You have two immediate options, you can get the public defender’s office in the county where the offense occurred, or you may contact one through referrals, or you can search online. 

You may also like to read: What are the Penalties of Aggravated Assault in Texas?

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