If you're facing an arrest for Driving Under the influence (DUI or DWI) in Pennsylvania, you probably know the penalties can be serious. You can end up paying steep fines, serve time in jail, and have your driver's license suspended even with a first Pennsylvania DUI conviction. But what if you're sure you weren't drunk, only buzzed? Do you have to plead guilty? What are your options?
It's important to understand what qualifies as a DUI in Pennsylvania and to seek the guidance of an experienced DUI lawyer to guide you through this. You are innocent until proven guilty, and a skilled lawyer can help you to the best possible outcome.
What Qualifies as a DUI in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, the law allows DUI charges in two situations:
1. You are “rendered incapable of safely driving, operating or being in actual physical control of the movement of the vehicle;” or
2. Your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is .08% or higher.
While whether your BAC is .08% or higher is a somewhat objective standard measured by a blood or breath test, whether you can safely operate a vehicle is a subjective standard. So, in some cases, police may charge you with DUI in Pennsylvania even if you believe you are only buzzed or if your BAC is under .08%. However, because the state must prove its cases against you beyond a reasonable doubt if your BAC is below .08%, the prosecutor's job becomes more difficult. A skilled DWI attorney can help.
In Pennsylvania, the law categorizes DUIs according to the level of your BAC at the time of your arrest. The legal limit is .08%, and a BAC between .08% and .09% qualifies as “general impairment.” However, a BAC between .10% and .159% is a “high BAC,” and a BAC of .16% or higher qualifies as a “highest BAC.” Penalties for a first DUI conviction increase with your BAC:
- General Impairment: A conviction for general impairment can result in probation for up to six months and a fine of up to $300.
- High BAC: A conviction for high BAC can result in 48 hours to six months in jail, fines of $500 to $5,000, and a suspended license for 12 months.
- Highest BAC: A conviction for a highest BAC can result in 72 hours to six months in jail, fines of $1,000 to $5,000, and a 12-month license suspension.
Penalties increase for second, third, and fourth DUI convictions. However, you do have options. In some cases, you may be eligible for accelerated rehabilitative disposition or other alternative remedies. A skilled DUI defense attorney can explain your options and negotiate with the prosecutor on your behalf.
Hire an Experienced Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you're facing DWI charges in Pennsylvania, you need a skilled defense attorney to guide you through the criminal justice system, especially if your BAC was below the legal limit. Attorney John D'Intino, Jr. has aggressively defended Pennsylvanians for years, and he can help you too. Call the D'Intino Law Firm at 267-491-9111, or contact them online to set up your consultation.