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  • By: Kevin Leckerman, Esq.
  • Published: April 1, 2011
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Once a person is arrested for a DUI charge in Pennsylvania, there are numerous factors that will control the level of punishment.

Penalty Determination

In 2004, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania enacted a new system that divides DUI penalties into three separate levels. Each level is based primarily on the person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of driving. Prior drunk driving offenses also play a role deciding into which level the person is placed. The three levels are:

  • Level 1 – General Impairment. People that have a BAC of .08% up to .099% usually fall into the first level. It is important to note that if the person’s actions caused damage to a person or to property, they will be placed into the second level.
  • Level 2 – High Level. For people whose BAC measures between 0.10% and 0.159%, those people are considered to have a High BAC and are placed into Level 2. In addition, people who have a commercial driver’s license and test with a BAC of .04% or higher, as well as minors who test at .02 or more, are placed into Level 2
  • Level 3 – Highest Level. People in this level usually have a BAC of .16% or more. A presence of illegal drugs in the person’s blood and those who refused to submit to chemical testing will also be placed into this level.
  • All BAC tests must be conducted within two hours of the person operating a vehicle.

Penalties According To Level

Each level carries a different degree of punishment for those convicted of a DUI charge.

  • Level 1 – No Prior DUI offenses – For people who have not been convicted of a DUI offense within the previous 10 years, there is a fine of $300 and a probation period up to six months that must be served. In addition, the offender must attend alcohol highway safety school and possibly alcohol abuse treatment, if the judge deems it necessary.
  • Level 1 – Prior DUI offense – With a prior offense, the defendant must serve at least five days in jail for the second offense. The jail time can last up to six months. The fine can range from $300 to a maximum of $2,500 and the driver’s license will be suspended for 12 months.
  • Level 2 – No Prior DUI Offenses – People who test with a High BAC will lose driving privileges for 12 months. It is possible to receive a restricted license after the first 60 days of the suspension. In addition, the fine ranges from $500 to $5,000. Jail time is a minimum of 48 hours up to 6 months. The person must also successfully complete a DUI driving school.
  • Level 2 – Second DUI offense – License will be suspended for 12 months with no chance for a restricted license. The amount of time spent in jail is a minimum of 30 days and can be as much as 6 months. The fine will be from $750 to $5,000. The person will also be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on all vehicles owned for 12 months once driving privileges are reinstated. The defendant must complete DUI driving school.
  • Level 3 – No Prior DUI offenses – Twelve months suspension of driver’s license. A minimum time in jail is 72 hours and the maximum is 6 months. The fines escalate to between $1,000 and $5,000. Like previous levels, the defendant must complete the DUI driving school.
  • Level 3 – Second DUI offense – For the highest level of offenses the driver’s license of the defendant will be suspended for 18 months and the person will remain in jail for at least 90 days. Jail time may last as long as 5 years and the fine will be at least $1,500. Successful completion of DUI driving school and the use of the interlock device are required.
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