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DUI – First Offense

First Offense

DUI defense lawyer

The first time being arrested for a DUI in Pennsylvania can be a confusing and frightening experience. Many people who are arrested for first-offense DUIs have no previous experience with the criminal justice system and find the process to be overwhelming. Trying to navigate court dates while dealing with the stigma that facing DUI charges can bring can be deeply unsettling. When you work with an experienced PA DUI attorney at DiCindio Law, your lawyer can provide you with guidance and help you through the process. Here is some information about the penalties for first DUI offenses.

How DUI Offenses Are Handled In Pennsylvania

Under 38 Pa.CS 3802, DUI offenses are broken down into three categories based on your blood alcohol content. The court also considers any past DUI convictions in determining penalties.

The penalties for DUI offenses are greater for people who have previous DUI convictions and also for those who have higher BACs at the time of their arrests. If you are a first-time offender, you will not have to worry about the increased penalties faced by habitual DUI offenders. However, the maximum penalty you might face will depend on your level of intoxication at the time of your stop based on the amount of alcohol in your breath or blood.

The three categories of DUI offenses for first-time offenders include the following:

  • General impairment DUI – BAC of 0.08% to 0.99%
  • High BAC DUI – BAC of 0.10% to 0.159%
  • Highest BAC DUI – BAC of 0.16% and higher

We’ll take a look at the penalties for each of these offenses for first-time offenders.

General impairment DUI first offense penalties

A general impairment DUI conviction will be an ungraded misdemeanor. 

If you are convicted as a first-time offender, you could face the following penalties:

  • Probation of up to six months
  • Fine of $300
  • Mandatory alcohol highway safety school
  • Substance abuse treatment at the court’s discretion

High BAC DUI first offense penalties

If you are convicted of a high BAC DUI as a first offense, it will be an ungraded misdemeanor. However, it carries enhanced penalties as compared to a first general impairment offense. 

A first high BAC DUI conviction could cause you to face the following penalties:

  • From 48 hours up to 6 months of incarceration
  • Fine of $500 up to $5,000
  • Suspension of your license for 12 months
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • Substance abuse treatment at the court’s discretion

Highest BAC DUI first offense penalties

If you are convicted of a DUI with a BAC of 0.16% or higher, the penalties are even more severe. You can also be convicted of the highest BAC DUI offense if you refused to take a breath or blood test or were charged for driving under the influence of any amount of drugs in your system. 

This type of DUI conviction can expose you to the following penalties for a first offense:

  • From 72 hours up to six months of incarceration
  • Fine of $1,000 up to $5,000
  • 12-month loss of your driving privileges
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • Substance abuse treatment

While these penalties are severe, the penalties for the highest BAC DUI offense as a first-time offender are lower than what they would be for a second or subsequent DUI conviction.

First offense DUI penalties for minors

If you are under the age of 21, the penalties you will face for a first DUI offense will be greater. 

Under the zero-tolerance law, minors ages 18 to 20 who are found to have even a small amount of alcohol in their systems will face the same penalties as an adult charged with a high BAC offense as follows:

  • From 48 hours up to six months of incarceration
  • Fine of $500 up to $5,000
  • 12-month loss of your driving privileges
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • Substance abuse treatment

First-offense DUI penalties for commercial drivers

If you are a commercial driver, you can be charged with a DUI when you have a lower BAC than other drivers. Commercial truck drivers cannot drive with a BAC of 0.04% or higher. For bus drivers, the limit is 0.02%. If you are a commercial driver and are convicted of a first-offense DUI, you can receive the penalties for a high BAC offense even if your BAC is low. Since these penalties also include a 12-month suspension of your license, a first-offense DUI conviction could threaten your livelihood.

Understanding blood alcohol concentration levels

It is difficult to estimate what your BAC might be after you drink. Your BAC will be affected by your body composition, how many drinks you have, how much alcohol they have by volume, how fast you were drinking, and any medication you are taking. If you did not feel intoxicated when you drove, you might wonder if you could challenge the test.

A PA DUI attorney can review the procedures used during the testing and the analysis and analyze the documentation of the machines to identify any problems that might have occurred. In some cases, a machine might not have been calibrated properly or may be out of its certification period. These types of issues can make a BAC result inaccurate. However, even though your BAC might not have placed you above the legal limit, the prosecution can still charge you with a DUI for impaired driving. In this type of case, your lawyer will work to identify other defenses to try to avoid a conviction.

The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program

In some cases, the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition or ARD program is the best way to avoid DUI penalties for a first-time offender. This program is available to people who do not have any previous criminal convictions and is a one-time option. If you have never been convicted of an offense before, you might be eligible for ARD. Through this program, you will have to complete several requirements, including community service, rehabilitation, and treatment that the court orders. Once you complete the program, you can ask the court to expunge your record. ARD can offer a way for you to minimize the impact of a first DUI offense on your career and life.

 

How do I find a DUI attorney near me?

When you are facing DUI charges, choosing an attorney to represent you can seem hard. You should retain a lawyer who is experienced in handling DUI cases. Michael DiCindio at DiCindio Law has past experience working as a prosecutor and offers a unique insight into how to defend against DUI charges. Contact us today to schedule a consultation by calling 610.430.3535.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime in Pennsylvania, contact Mike DiCindio, Esq today at 610.220.4691!

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