Philadelphia DUI Lawyer

Most drivers know that driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal. However, many drivers are not familiar with what the law says about driving under the influence (DUI) charges. State law defines DUI and the circumstances when a driver may face this charge. The law also specifies what penalties a driver convicted of DUI could face.

The severity of a DUI conviction depends on the circumstances of the case. Drivers with prior DUI convictions could face even harsher penalties. Penalties for a DUI conviction vary, and can include fines, driver’s license suspension, or even a jail sentence. If you are facing a charge for impaired driving, you should contact a skilled criminal attorney who can help you build your defense. A Philadelphia DUI lawyer can help you collect relevant evidence and witnesses before beginning trial.

Defining Driving Under the Influence

Pennsylvania state law defines three levels of DUI based on how impaired the accused driver is. A driver’s legal impairment is measured based on their blood alcohol content (BAC). The BAC level determines the severity of the DUI charge.

DUI charges in Pennsylvania are categorized as general impairment (.08 to .099% BAC), High BAC (.10 to .159% BAC), and Highest BAC (.16% and higher). Pennsylvania State Code defines the penalties a driver could face upon conviction for each of these three charges. Penalties increases for subsequent convictions.

Penalties for a First Offense

The most common type of DUI Philadelphia DUI lawyers have seen is the General Impairment DUI. A first-time General Impairment DUI is an upgraded misdemeanor. Drivers with a BAC between .08% and .099% could face this charge. Drivers convicted of a General Impairment DUI could face the following legal penalties for a first-time conviction:

  • $300 fine
  • Maximum of six months’ probation
  • Mandatory alcohol highway awareness education

In these cases, a judge can also order further alcohol rehabilitation treatment based on the circumstances of the case.

Subsequent DUI Offenses

Drivers convicted of multiple DUI convictions face harsher punishment. Philadelphia DUI lawyers have seen this kind of tiered punishment range from increased fines to increased jail sentences. Drivers convicted of a second General Impairment DUI could face the following penalties:

  • Up to six months in jail
  • Increased fines up to $2,500
  • 12-month driver’s license suspension
  • Mandatory alcohol highway awareness education
  • Mandatory alcohol rehabilitation treatment
  • 1-year ignition interlock (a device connected to a car’s ignition that prevents the car from starting until a driver registers his or her BAC through a breathing device)

For the more serious High BAC (.10 to .159% BAC) and Highest BAC (.16% and higher) charges, convicted drivers could face increased fines, longer license suspensions, and long prison sentences.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

State DUI laws not only apply to drivers under the influence of alcohol, but also drivers impaired by controlled substances. Motorists whose ability to drive safely is impaired by drugs could face DUI charges.

In these cases, it does not matter whether the controlled substance was illegal. Even drivers who are impaired by legally prescribed medications could face DUI. The penalties for a first-time conviction can include a 12-month driver’s license suspension and up to six months in prison.

Someone could also be made to pay fines between $1,000-$5,000. Philadelphia DUI lawyers have seen individuals get sentenced with a mandatory alcohol highway awareness education or substance abuse treatment.