Motorists in Pennsylvania who get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol in quantities sufficient to impair their ability to operate a motor vehicle safely face arrest and a charge of driving while under the influence. The state bases its penalties for DUI on the amount of alcohol a motorist has in their system and whether or not they have prior drunk driving convictions. Breath tests are usually used to establish blood alcohol concentrations.
General impairment penalties apply when motorists have a BAC of between 0.08% and 0.099%. The charge is an upgraded misdemeanor, and drivers with no prior DUI arrests spend up to six months on probation. They also pay a $300 fine and must attend motor vehicle safety classes. A prior DUI conviction increases the fine for general impairment to as much as $2,500 and adds a custodial sentence of between five days and six months. Repeat offenders must also install ignition interlock devices in their vehicles, and they lose their driving privileges for a year. Multiple prior DUI convictions can lead to a fine of up to $5,000 and a prison sentence of up to two years.
Higher BAC results
Driving with a BAC of between 0.10 and 0.159 can result in a prison sentence of up to six months for drivers with clean records or a single prior DUI conviction and up to five years for motorists with two or more prior convictions. Drivers with a BAC of 0.16 or higher face up to five years in prison even if they have only one prior DUI conviction. This higher BAC also leads to increased fines of up to $10,000.
Challenging BAC evidence
Establishing a driver’s BAC is not always straightforward. The devices police departments use to conduct breath tests are unreliable if they are not maintained properly, and even if they are regularly recalibrated, several medical conditions can skew the results. This is why experienced criminal defense attorneys may study medical records and police maintenance logs carefully when representing individuals charged with DUI.