Pennsylvania residents who are taken into custody after a DUI are likely going to be charged with a misdemeanor offense. However, there are some cases in which a DUI could be upgraded to a felony, which comes with enhanced penalties and long-term ramifications. A DUI is sometimes considered a felony based on a driver's blood alcohol content at the time he or she is pulled over.
The legal blood alcohol limit in all states is .08 percent. If a driver's BAC is roughly .16 percent or higher, a DUI charge could be upgraded to a felony as opposed to a misdemeanor. Those who have prior convictions for drunk or impaired driving or who caused bodily harm while impaired may also see an enhanced charge. However, prosecutors generally have to show that a drunk driver was at fault for causing those injuries.
Drivers who are operating a motor vehicle with a revoked or suspended license can face additional penalties for driving while drunk or impaired. Finally, if there is a child in the vehicle, an impaired driver could face a variety of charges such as endangering the welfare of a child. In some states, special charges could apply depending on how old the child is, and drivers could be subject to felony charges should they be found to be driving drunk with a minor in the car.
Those who are charged with a DUI could face a variety of penalties if convicted. For instance, it could be possible to spend time in jail or prison, pay a fine or spend time on probation. A driver may also have his or her license taken away temporarily or permanently. An attorney may review the case and create defenses that may enable a driver to avoid some or all penalties.