Many states have two different types of drunk driving charges, including driving under the influence offense that typically may be charged when your blood alcohol concentration is 0.08% or higher. The other type of DUI charge in those states is an aggravated DUI. What constitutes an aggravated DUI varies from state to state. Some states have aggravating factors that automatically enhance the penalties for a DUI, including having a minor in the car, having an accident with injuries, or having a high BAC.
Pennsylvania does not have a specific aggravated DUI offense. However, it does have three DUI levels. Two of these levels carry enhanced penalties and include factors that may be considered to be aggravating. If you have been charged with a DUI, contact DiCindio Law to get help.
Aggravating factors in a Pennsylvania DUI charge
A driving under the influence charge already has serious consequences. In some cases, however, the circumstances may result in you being charged with a higher-level DUI that carries enhanced penalties beyond the normal sentence for a regular DUI conviction. Having specific aggravating factors present in your case may result in your charge being raised to a higher level.
Pennsylvania’s DUI law has three different levels of DUI offenses. A DUI or general impairment is charged when someone has a BAC of 0.08% or higher up to 0.099%. If a person’s blood alcohol concentration is 0.10% up to 0.159%, he or she may be charged with a high BAC DUI. Finally, if someone has a BAC of 0.16% or higher, he or she may be charged with the highest BAC DUI offense.
The high BAC and highest BAC DUI offenses carry more severe penalties than the general impairment DUI offense. In addition to your BAC, there are other factors that could result in enhanced penalties. The prosecutor can decide to include these types of factors in your charges to increase the consequences that you might face. Here are a few examples of factors that could lead to you facing more serious penalties for a DUI offense.
High or highest blood alcohol concentration
All states have a legal limit for the amount of alcohol in your blood while you are driving. In most of the states, the limit is set at 0.08%. In Pennsylvania, the limit is set at 0.08%. Under the law, there is a presumption that you have committed a DUI offense when you are caught driving with a BAC of 0.08% or higher.
When you submit to a test and are shown to have a BAC of 0.10% or higher, you may be charged with one of the two higher level DUI offenses. If your blood alcohol concentration is between 0.10% and 0.159%, you may be charged with a high BAC DUI. If it is 0.160% or higher, you may be charged with the highest BAC DUI offense. These higher-level offenses carry the potential for longer periods of incarceration, higher fines, and other additional penalties. In the case of a high or highest DUI offense, an experienced DUI defense attorney may challenge the traffic stop or the way in which the testing was conducted.
Multiple DUI convictions
If you have one or more prior DUI convictions, your sentence for a subsequent DUI conviction may be enhanced. This includes when your prior DUI conviction happened in a different state. Repeat DUI offenders are punished more harshly to try to deter them from driving drunk after they have had their first conviction.
In Pennsylvania, having a prior DUI will increase the consequences that you might face. There is a lookback period of 10 years, which means that if you have had a prior DUI conviction during the last 10 years, you may face enhanced penalties. For example, the minimum jail time for a first general impairment DUI conviction in Pennsylvania is no jail time. For a second general impairment DUI conviction, the minimum jail time is five days up to 6 months. For a third general impairment DUI conviction within 10 years, the minimum jail time is 10 days up to two years.
Causing an injury accident
If you cause an accident that seriously injures someone else while you were driving under the influence, you can face enhanced charges and can be charged with aggravated assault while driving under the influence under 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3735.1. This offense is a second-degree felony that carries a potential penalty of up to 10 years in prison in addition to other serious penalties.
When minors are in the vehicle
Having children in your car at the time that you are arrested for a DUI offense can result in enhanced penalties. Pennsylvania enhances the penalties for a DUI conviction if you have a child who is 14 years old or young in your car at the time of your arrest.
What to do
If you are facing a DUI charge and have one or more aggravating factors present, it is important for you to meet with a criminal defense lawyer who is experienced in defending against DUI charges of all levels. An attorney at DiCindio Law may be able to identify ways to defend against the charges against you. Having experienced legal representation may help you to secure a lesser sentence, to obtain a lesser charge, or to win the dismissal of the charges against you in some circumstances. An attorney may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor who is assigned to your case in an effort to secure the most favorable outcome possible in your case. To learn more about the rights that you have, schedule a consultation with a criminal defense lawyer at DiCindio Law by filling out our online contact form.