I just got my first DUI – what can happen to me?

Being charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania can have a significant impact on your life, even if it is the first time you have been charged. Even with a first offense, you could be facing jail time, fines, a loss of your driving privileges and mandatory classes designed to keep you from committing the offense again.

Over the legal limit

It is likely you were charged with a DUI because your blood alcohol content was at or over .08. Prior to 2003, if your BAC was over .10 you would be charged with a DUI, but the levels were lowered in order to prevent drunk driving accidents. Your BAC may have been determined using a Breathalyzer or a blood test. In Pennsylvania, you give implied consent to submit to a BAC test if you are suspected of drunk driving. If you refuse, your license will be suspended.

Tiered approach to enforcement

Pennsylvania also uses a tiered approach to the enforcement of DUI arrests. If your BAC was lower than 0.99 but higher than .08, your first offense will be treated as an ungraded misdemeanor. You could face up to six months’ probation and a $300 fine for your first offense. You may also be required to attend alcohol safety school or treatment if the court deems it necessary. If your BAC was below .159 but over .10, it is still considered an ungraded misdemeanor. However, your license will be suspended for 12 months, you could spend 48 hours to six months in prison, your fine could be between $500 and $5,000 for your first offense. You may also be required to attend alcohol safety courses as well as treatment.

Highest penalties

Even if you have never been arrested for DUI before, if your BAC is higher than .16, the penalties are severe. It is still an ungraded misdemeanor, and you may still have to attend alcohol safety school or submit to treatment. However, the fines are between $1,000 and $5,000 and you could spend as little as 72 hours in prison or up to six months. Your license will be suspended for six months. There is no question that if you are charged with a DUI with a high BAC, you need to talk to an attorney who has experience in DUI cases.

Getting a DUI can have a negative impact on many aspects of your life and, if you are arrested with a high BAC, you could face high fines and prison time. Hiring an attorney regardless of your BAC is critical in order to protect your rights under the law.