Dealing with a first offense DUI charge can be a very stressful experience filled with a range of emotions and uncertainties.

If you’ve been accused of driving under the influence for the first time in Pennsylvania then you likely have many questions:

  • Will my license be suspended?
  • Am I going to go to jail?
  • Were my rights violated during the arrest?
  • Can I fight the charges?

These are all legitimate questions after a DUI arrest that deserve to be answered by someone who is well-versed in PA’s drunk driving laws.

Fortunately, you have come to the right place.

Drunk Driving Charges In Pennsylvania

The laws that deal with intoxicated driving in Pennsylvania can be quite confusing.

Many people are aware of the fact that it is illegal to operate a vehicle in Pennsylvania with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more.

However, PA’s drunk driving laws are more complicated than that and not many people know that there are actually three different types of DUIs in Pennsylvania.

Understanding the difference between each type of DUI is important because the type of DUI that you are being charged with will affect the penalties that you face.

What Are The Consequences Of A First Offense DUI Conviction?

There are two main factors that affect the penalties associated with a DUI conviction in Pennsylvania:

  1. Any prior DUI offenses that the driver has had (within the past 10 years)
  2. The driver’s level of intoxication (measured in BAC)

If this is the first time that you’ve been arrested for DUI then you will be facing charges associated with a first time offense.

However, this does not mean that the charges against you are not going to be serious.

In fact, the consequences of a first offense DUI could be more severe than the consequences associated with a second or third offense DUI, depending on your alleged level of intoxication when you were driving.

The Penalties You Face Depend On Your Alleged BAC Level

Pennsylvania uses a three-tiered system when it comes to DUI charges. Each tier is based on a driver’s level of alleged intoxication:

  1. General Impairment DUI (.08% – .099% BAC)
  2. High Impairment DUI (.10% – .159% BAC)
  3. Highest Impairment DUI (.16% or higher BAC  / Controlled Substance)

We discuss the standard penalties and fines associated with each of these different types of DUIs below.

First Offense General Impairment DUI

A general impairment DUI is the first tier of DUI in Pennsylvania and is relevant for drivers who are arrested for intoxicated driving with an alleged BAC between .08% and .099%.

If you were arrested for general impairment DUI then you will face certain fines and penalties including, but not limited to:

  • 6 months of probation
  • $300 fine
  • $50 surcharge
  • Mandatory highway alcohol safety school
  • Drug or alcohol treatment (if ordered by court)
  • Community service (if ordered by court)
First Offense DUI With High BAC

An individual who is arrested for intoxicated driving with a BAC between .10% – .1599% will be charged with a “DUI With High BAC” and will face the associated penalties.

Additionally, minors (under the age of 21) who are arrested for an underage DUI with a BAC of .02% will be charged for DUI with high BAC.

The standard penalties associated with a first offense DUI with a high BAC include, but are not limited to:

  • 1 year of license suspension
  • 2 days to 6 months in prison
  • 1 year with ignition interlock device (IID)
  • $500 to $5,000 fine
  • $50 surcharge
  • Mandatory highway alcohol safety school
  • Drug or alcohol treatment (if ordered by court)
  • Community service (if ordered by court)
First Offense DUI With Highest BAC / Controlled Substance

The third tier of DUI in Pennsylvania is known as a “DUI With Highest BAC” and is relevant for individuals who are arrested for intoxicated driving with a BAC of .16% or more, as well as for those who are arrested for driving under the influence of a controlled substance.

Those arrested on charges of DUI with the highest BAC face a range of court-ordered penalties including, but not limited to:

  • 1 year license suspension
  • 3 days to 6 months in prison
  • 1 year with ignition interlock device (IID)
  • $1,000 to $5,000 fine
  • $50 surcharge
  • Mandatory highway alcohol safety school
  • Drug or alcohol treatment (if ordered by court)
  • Community service (if ordered by court)

I Was Arrested For DUI. What Can I Do Now?

As you can see, the charges that you face after a first offense DUI arrest can be very serious.

But remember that a DUI arrest does NOT necessarily mean a conviction.

The consequences of your DUI arrest could end up being significantly better or worse than those listed above, depending on the attorney that you choose to represent you.

How A DUI Lawyer Can Help

Our DUI attorneys in Pennsylvania are dedicated to minimizing the negative consequences of your DUI arrest by challenging your arrest or negotiating a plea bargain.

Many people mistakenly believe that nothing can be done after a DUI arrest except for plead guilty and accept the full consequences of the charges.

But this is not always the case and there are often many other legal options which can result in a positive outcome for you.

Get Legal Help Today

Contact our Pennsylvania DUI defense attorneys today to begin exploring your legal options. We offer free consultations and are here to answer all of your questions.