First Offense DUIs in Chester County, Pennsylvania

First Offense DUIs in Chester County, Pennsylvania

Being arrested and charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania for the first time can be scary. If you are facing a DUI charge as a first offense, you might have serious concerns about what might happen to you. You may not have any previous experience dealing with the criminal justice system and feel overwhelmed. When you retain an experienced DUI lawyer in Chester County at DiCindio Law, your attorney can guide you through the criminal court process and defend you against your charges. Below is some general information about what you might expect when you are charged with a first-offense DUI.

How Pennsylvania handles first DUI offenses

There are several ways you can be charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802. You can be charged with a DUI if you drive, operate, or have actual physical control of a vehicle when you have ingested a sufficient quantity of alcohol to render you physically incapable of safely driving. Pennsylvania also has a per se DUI offense in § 3802(a)(2). Under this subsection, you can be charged with a DUI per se if your BAC tests at 0.08% or higher within two hours of driving, operating, or having actual physical control of a vehicle.

Courts give different penalties for DUI offenses based on the person’s BAC level as shown by chemical tests of blood, breath, or urine within two hours of arrest. CDL drivers, bus drivers, and minors will face higher penalties even when their BACs are lower than the state’s per se limit.

The three DUI levels for first offenses in Pennsylvania include the following:

The penalties increase as the BAC increases.

First offense general impairment DUI penalties

Under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3804, the penalties for a first general impairment DUI conviction include the following:

  • Ungraded misdemeanor
  • Six months of probation
  • $300 fine
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • Alcohol assessment and comply with any treatment that might be ordered

First high BAC DUI penalties

A high BAC DUI has more severe penalties than a general impairment DUI. If you are convicted of this offense, you will face the following penalties:

  • Ungraded misdemeanor
  • Minimum of 48 hours in jail up to a maximum of six months
  • Fine ranging from $500 to $5,000
  • 12-month suspension of your license
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • Substance abuse assessment and comply with treatment if ordered

First highest BAC DUI penalties

The highest BAC DUI carries the most severe DUI penalties of the misdemeanor offenses. If you are convicted of a first highest BAC DUI, you will face the following penalties:

  • Ungraded misdemeanor
  • Jail from a minimum of 72 hours up to a maximum of six months
  • Fine from $1,000 up to $5,000
  • 12-month suspension of your driver’s license
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • Substance abuse assessment and comply with any treatment that is ordered

If you refuse a chemical test of your breath, blood, or urine, you will also face the penalties for the highest BAC DUI. People whose chemical tests reveal that they have any amount of illegal drugs or prescription drugs for which they do not have a valid prescription will also face the penalties for the highest BAC DUI offense.

Penalties for minors for first-offense DUIs

If you are younger than age 21, you will face stiffer penalties for a first DUI. Pennsylvania has a zero-tolerance DUI law for minors, which means you can be convicted of a DUI if you have a small amount of alcohol in your system. If you are convicted, you will face the penalties that adults who have a high BAC receive as previously listed.

Penalties for commercial drivers for first-offense DUIs

Commercial drivers who drive trucks can be charged with a DUI when they have BACs of 0.04%. Bus drivers have an even lower limit of 0.02%, which is equal to drinking around one beer. Commercial drivers who are convicted of first-offense DUIs will face the penalties for a high BAC DUI even when their BACs are lower than the range for general impairment DUI offense. Since this means that you will also lose your license for 12 months, a conviction could threaten your career.

Penalties for a first DUI with a minor under 18 in the vehicle

If you had a minor in your vehicle under the age of 18 at the time of your DUI arrest, you will face more serious penalties. The penalties for first DUI offense with a minor in your vehicle include the following:

  • First-degree misdemeanor
  • Fine from $1,000 to $5,000
  • 18-month suspension of your driver’s license
  • 100 hours of community service
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • Other penalties, depending on your BAC

The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program

Pennsylvania offers the ARD program to certain DUI offenders. In some cases, participating in ARD is a good way to avoid DUI penalties as a first offender. To qualify for ARD, you must not have prior criminal convictions. If you are accepted, you will be required to complete community service, rehabilitation, and any treatment that the court might order. Once you successfully complete the program, you can petition the court to have your record expunged. This can help to reduce the impact a first DUI offense might have on your life.

Get help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer

First offense DUIs in Chester County are treated seriously. When you work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer at DiCindio Law, your attorney might identify defenses to raise against the charges against you. Contact DiCindio Law today by calling 610.430.3535 to schedule a case evaluation.