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The Possible Penalties of Being Charged With DUI/DWI


In 2018, Pennsylvania lawmakers wrapped up their legislative session by passing hundreds of new laws on a variety of topics: one of them includes new, tougher penalties on repeat DUI offenders. It also includes the state’s first felony for breaking DUI laws. It’s important to know what possible penalties you can expect whether you’re a first time or repeat offender, and how Ernie Preate, Jr., Former Pennsylvania Attorney General and Lackawanna County District Attorney can help defend you against those charges.

What are the penalties for a general impairment DUI in Pennsylvania?

General impairment means you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% to .099%. This is what you can expect if you’re found to have a BAC between these limits:

  • First offense: There is no recommended jail time for first offenders, but you will be fined $300. Your license won’t be suspended either, but if you refuse to take a breath test, you may get an Interlock Ignition Device (IID) which will prevent your car from starting if you’ve been drinking alcohol.
  • Second offense: Expect 5-6 days of jail time with fines ranging between $300-$2,500. Your license will be suspended for a year and you’ll be required to have an IID during your period of license suspension.
  • Third offense: You could see anywhere between 10 days and two years of jail time with fines ranging upwards of $5,000. Your license will also be suspended for a year with a required IID during that time.

There are two more levels of DUI: High BAC (.10%-.159%) and Highest BAC (.16% and higher). Convictions on those levels include longer jail time, higher fines, treatment when ordered, and alcohol highway safety school. Now, under the new laws passed in the state, people with a third or fourth conviction of driving with the highest BAC can face felony charges. The new law also imposes a minimum of 5 to 7 years of jail time if you are convicted of homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence.

What happens if I’m underage and charged with DUI?

Pennsylvania has a zero tolerance law for underage drivers convicted of a DUI. That means offenders will have their license suspended for a year, go to jail anywhere from two days to six months and face fines anywhere between $300 and $10,000 based on BAC and number of offenses.

Can I refuse to take a chemical/breathalyzer test?  

Refusing to take a test in Pennsylvania can be costly. That’s because the state has an “implied consent” law, meaning you are required to take a blood, breath or chemical test if you are arrested for driving under the influence. If you take the test and are convicted, it’s possible you may have to reimburse police for the cost of the test. Sometimes the cost of denying a test is worse than a DUI conviction. Refusing to take the test could mean losing your license for a year, and a $500 license reinstatement fee. Second or third offenses have a penalty of 18-month license suspensions and upwards of $2,000 in reinstatement fees. You will also have additional fines, must attend a driving safety school, and possibly community service.

I was pulled over for drunk driving. What should I do next?

Contact DUI attorney Ernest D. Preate, Jr. Esquire immediately at 570-209-9865, or go online to set up a consultation at the Scranton, Pennsylvania offices. We understand that mistakes are made, and we are committed to helping you through your emotional, financial and legal needs by vigorously challenging evidence for the results you desire.


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Ernest D. Preate, Jr. Esquire

204 Wyoming Avenue
2nd Floor, Suite C
Scranton, Pennsylvania 18503
Phone: 570-209-9865
Fax: 570-558-5973

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