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Three categories of DUI penalties

Most drivers are, or should be, aware of the so-called legal limit. Under Pennsylvania law, and the law of every other state, it is illegal for drivers over age 21 to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. Police who detain a driver can administer a BAC test. Drivers consent to these tests in advance, when they receive a driver's license. Any driver found to have a BAC of 0.08% BAC is said to have committed DUI per se. However, there is a lot more to the way Pennsylvania DUI law treats BAC.

Pennsylvania law recognizes three levels of DUI: General Impairment, High BAC and Highest BAC. General impairment refers to a BAC of 0.08%-0.99%. High BAC covers 0.10%-0.159%, and Highest BAC covers 0.16% or higher. Each category represents a different tier of penalties, with progressively higher penalties in each category, especially when the defendant has prior offenses.

For example, a person found guilty of General Impairment DUI with no prior offenses will face up to 6 months of probation, a $300 fine, and be ordered to attend alcohol highway safety school, among other penalties. A person found guilty of High BAC with no prior offenses will face a 12 month licenses suspension, 48 hours to 6 months in jail, a fine of from $500 to $5,000 and alcohol highway safety school, among other penalties.

Certain categories of drivers can face the advanced penalties even if their BAC was not in one of the higher levels. These include minors, commercial drivers and drivers who were involved in an accident that caused injury or property damage.

Everyone accused of drunk driving has the right to a defense. A defense attorney can help the accused to understand their options and the strategies that can best help them protect their freedoms.

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