Pennsylvanians who are arrested and charged with driving under the influence will undoubtedly be fearful and concerned as to what the future holds. Not only can there be a variety of penalties including incarceration and fines, but there can also be a driver’s license suspension. People may not know that the state law has different levels of charges based on the amount of alcohol in the driver’s system. This can be a vital factor in the case.
People are often caught off guard when they discover that Pennsylvania has what is called a “high rate of alcohol” in a DUI case. Those who are facing charges due to a high rate of alcohol in the system will face worse consequences than those arrested for general impairment. Knowing the difference can be key to a defense.
Drivers who have consumed enough alcohol that they are incapable of operating their vehicle safely are not legally allowed to drive. This determination can hinge on the blood-alcohol concentration. If the driver registers a minimum of 0.08 percent, but has less than 0.10 percent in the system within two hours after having driven or been in control of a vehicle, this will result in a DUI charge under the general impairment law. The charge will be for a high rate of alcohol if the driver has a BAC if there is a minimum of 0.10 percent BAC, but less than 0.16 percent within two hours after having driven or being in control of the vehicle.
For a first-offense general impairment DUI, the driver will face six months of probation, a fine of $300, need to go to alcohol highway safety school and undergo treatment if it is so ordered. For a first-offense high BAC, the driver will face a 12-month suspension of driving privileges, prison for 48 hours to six months, a fine of $500 to $5,000, the need to go to alcohol safety school and to have treatment if it is ordered. There are harsher penalties in each category if the driver had previous DUI convictions.
A key part of a successful DUI defense is a full grasp of the charges and the potential penalties that accompany a conviction. Knowing the difference between general impairment and high rate DUI can be key. When charged with DUI at any level, it may be imperative to have legal assistance from the start. Perhaps the investigation violated the person’s rights or the evidence was tainted. The driver might not have been under the influence at all. It may be that the charges can be reduced or an outright acquittal is possible. Before anything else it can be beneficial to have legal help immediately.