Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania uses a three-tiered definition for Driving Under the Influence (DUI), based on the drivers Blood Alcohol Content (BAC):

General impairment: 0.08% to 0.099%
High BAC: 0.10% to 0.159%
Highest BAC: 0.16% and up OR a controlled substance

The punishment you face will be determined based upon the tier in which your BAC was at the time of your arrest. At a minimum, you will be facing probation, fines, mandatory alcohol highway safety school, driver’s license suspension, and alcohol and drug treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

What is the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program?
Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, best known as ARD, is an alternative to lengthy court proceedings. It is available to most first-time DUI offenders. The District Attorney’s Office determines eligibility for the program.

What is blood alcohol content?
Blood Alcohol Content or more commonly known as “ BAC” is the measurement of how much alcohol is in a person’s body. It is determined by the weight of the alcohol in a certain volume of blood.

What can have an effect on your blood alcohol level?
The number of drinks, how fast you drink, your gender, your weight, and the amount of food in your stomach all factor in to have an effect on your BAC.

Will I lose my license?
It depends on whether or not this is your first DUI charge. Some first offenders can avoid a loss of license. An additional factor to be considered is your BAC at the time of arrest. For High Rate and Highest Rate Offenses, there will be a license suspension.

Will I go to jail?
Multiple factors need to be considered for this question to be answered. Some things that influence whether or not you are sentenced to jail are: dui history, criminal record history, rate of impairment, whether or not there was property damage, whether or not there were victims who were injured, and other crimes charged in conjunction with the DUI.

I refused to comply with the chemical testing at the hospital/ medical facility, will my license be suspended?
Most likely yes, not complying with the requirement of chemical testing is taken very seriously by PENNDOT. For refusing to take the chemical test, there is a mandatory 12 month license suspension. There are a limited number of defenses for refusing to comply with the chemical testing requirement.

What is ignition interlock?
A device that is placed on a vehicle, which is approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PENNDOT), that prevents a vehicle from being started or operated unless the operator first provides a breath sample indicating that the operator has an alcohol level of less than 0.025%.

What is Occupational Limited License?
An Occupational Limited License (OLL) is a limited driver’s license issued to a driver whose Pennsylvania driving privilege has been suspended. If your driving privilege has been revoked, disqualified, cancelled or recalled, you are not eligible for an OLL. If you have never been licensed by Pennsylvania or any other state, and you are not a resident of PA, you are also ineligible to apply. An OLL authorizes driving a designated non-commercial motor vehicle, under certain conditions, only when it is necessary for the driver’s occupation, work, trade, medical treatment or study.

How do I apply for an Occupational Limited License (OLL)?
You must complete an Occupational License Petition (form DL-15) then mail it with a check or money order, proof of insurance and the required Restoration Fee to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PENNDOT).

I was charged with 1543 Driving while operating privilege is suspended or revoked. Will I go to jail?
When charged with a violation of 1543(a) Driving while operating privilege is suspended or revoked, jail time can most likely be avoided. It largely depends on whether or not this is your first violation. In addition to possible jail time for a 1543(a) conviction, there will be a minimum fine of $200.

Those charged with 1543(b) have a tougher hill to climb. For the first violation of 1543(b), there is a 60 to 90 day mandatory jail sentence. You will need a skilled advocate to defend you against this charge.

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