A conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) will have severe personal and financial consequences for you. For instance, Pennsylvania DUI penalties may include mandatory incarceration in a county or state prison, significant mandatory fines and court costs, and suspension of your driving privileges.
In addition, a DUI arrest and conviction will often result in the loss of your employment. It can also cause long-term damage to your future personal and professional opportunities. With your future on the line, hiring an experienced DUI defense lawyer is critical.
How is Your DUI Penalty Determined in Pennsylvania?
In the majority of cases, the district attorney will base your DUI penalty on two factors, including:
- The amount of alcohol or the presence of drugs in your system
- Whether you have one or more DUI convictions within the last 10 years
However, a prosecutor will seek a more severe punishment if your DUI case involves:
- A car accident resulting in bodily injury
- A vehicle collision resulting in serious bodily injury
- A vehicle accident that caused the death of another person
How Many Beers is the Legal Limit
PA DUI Mandatory Minimum
Most DUI offenses carry a mandatory minimum sentence of incarceration upon conviction. The mandatory minimum sentence is the minimum amount of time an individual convicted of DUI will be required to spend in a county jail or state prison before becoming eligible for release on parole.
A judge must impose mandatory minimum sentences for DUI offenses regardless of mitigating factors. However, the court has the discretion to sentence a person above the legal minimum in any DUI case.
Are There Alternatives to Jail for a PA DUI?
Yes. Many DUI sentencing alternatives are available to allow you to avoid jail for a Pennsylvania DUI case.
Examples include the following:
- House Arrest
- DUI Restrictive Probation
- Home Detention
Also, most programs will enable you to work, receive counseling and treatment and maintain contact with your family. I can review your case and determine your eligibility for the DUI sentencing alternative programs.
Hire an Aggressive Bucks County DUI Lawyer
Arrested for a DUI in Bucks County, Montgomery County, Delaware County, Chester County, or the surrounding Pennsylvania Counties? Are you searching for an affordable DUI lawyer near me?
Also, I am a 24-hour DUI attorney offering DUI legal services at a reasonable rate. Most importantly, I have extensive knowledge of all PA DUI defenses. In addition, I understand the signs that a DUI case is weak. Therefore, in many situations, I can help you beat the case.
Contact me at (215) 752-5282 for a free initial consultation, or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response. Appointments are available after business hours and on weekends.
PA DUI Sentencing Chart
Review the following PA DUI grading chart to determine what penalties you may face for your dui charges in PA.
Download a PDF Version of the 2022 PA DUI Sentencing Chart
How are my PA DUI Sentencing Guidelines Calculated?
The prosecutor will base the driving under the influence penalty on the severity of the current DUI (1st, 2nd, or 3rd tier) and the number of DUI convictions you have had within the past 10 years.
The district attorney determines the 10-year lookback period for determining your DUI sentence. They do this by calculating whether you have any previous DUI convictions within the last 10 years from the date of your arrest for the current case.
In addition, DUI convictions after the date of arrest but before your guilty plea in the present case are also considered a prior offense for sentencing purposes. As an example:
- Date of arrest for the most recent DUI: August 10, 2022
- Date of 2nd DUI conviction: March 27, 2018
- Date of 1st DUI conviction: January 10, 2016
In the above example, the current DUI offense would be considered a third offense. Under Pennsylvania DUI law, the convictions for the first and second DUI offenses occur within 10 years of the arrest for the current DUI offense.
After calculating the DUI offense number, you can use the above PA DUI penalties chart to determine the penalties, including jail time, length of license suspension, and mandatory fines.
Does a Prior ARD for DUI Count as a Prior Conviction?
Yes. That means that if you have a prior ARD for DUI on your record within the last 10 years, you will face enhanced penalties as a repeat offender. Also, the sentencing enhancement for a prior ARD for DUI will apply even if a judge granted an ARD was expungement of your record.
Unfortunately, most county prosecutors will retain a record of your acceptance into ARD for driving under the influence even after the court orders expungement. In addition, your DUI-ARD will remain on your Pennsylvania driving record for 10 years after you complete the diversion program.
New PA DUI Laws 2023
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf recently signed a new Pennsylvania DUI law enhancing DUI penalties for offenders facing third and subsequent DUI charges. Notably, the new law increases jail sentences for drivers with multiple DUI convictions.
PA DUI Law Changes
In addition, the law prevents DUI judges from imposing concurrent penalties on DUI cases unless the charges merge. Also, the new law prohibits the judge from imposing concurrent sentences on unrelated criminal cases. Learn more about the new law in the blog post: New PA Law is Aimed at Repeat DUI Drivers.
I understand the new DUI law changes and how they may affect your case in 2023. Contact me to discuss strategies to avoid the DUI law changes. I punishments under the new law.
DUI Drugs First Offense
In Pennsylvania, there has been an increase in drug-related driving under the influence cases due to the legalization of medical marijuana, the widespread use of prescription medication, and the illegal drug epidemic. A person charged with a first-offense controlled substance DUI will face the following penalties:
- Mandatory 72 hours in jail
- 6-month maximum sentence
- $1,000 mandatory fine
- 12-month license suspension
- Additional 12-month ignition interlock requirement
- You are ARD eligible if there are no disqualifying factors (Ex: accident with injury, prior record, not a legal driver)
- If the District Attorney approves you for ARD:
- No jail time
- 60-day license suspension
- Mandatory ARD program costs, community service, and DUI classes
- Charges are dismissed and expunged when the ARD program is completed
3rd DUI in PA
Have the police filed charges against you for a 3rd driving under the influence case in the last 10 years? Unfortunately, you will face anywhere from a minimum of 10 days in jail or 1 year or more in a Pennsylvania state prison. Also, the maximum sentence for a 3rd offense highest tier drunk driving charge is 7 years.
In addition, recent changes in the Pennsylvania DUI law require that judges impose consecutive sentences in all DUI cases unless the charges merge. For example, a 3rd offense controlled substance DUI and driving under suspension DUI-related case will result in a minimum sentence of at least 15 months in prison.
3rd DUI Defense Options
First, I will try to get some or all of the charges dismissed or withdrawn at the preliminary hearing. In addition, I will fight your case in court if the police violated your constitutional rights through an illegal stop, search, or arrest.
Furthermore, I will review the evidence in your case to determine whether you have an impaired driving defence for trial. If no legal defense exists, we can consider applying for intermediate punishment programs that allow you to avoid jail.
These programs include house arrest, DUI restrictive probation, Drug Court, Behavioral Health Court, or Veteran’s Court.
ARD for PA DUI
The ARD program is typically available to first-time offenders facing DUI charges. Individuals admitted into the ARD program are placed on probation and required to complete certain court-ordered conditions.
Those requirements include completing a Court Reporting Network (CRN) evaluation, driver safety classes, community service, and payment of court costs. Individuals who complete the ARD program are eligible for criminal record expungement through:
- Automatic expungement by the district attorney once you finish the ARD probation
- You file a Petition for Expungement when the ARD is complete
As an experienced Pennsylvania ARD lawyer, I will help you apply for and get approved for the ARD program.
What Will Disqualify Me from ARD for my DUI?
In most cases, the ARD program is not available to individuals charged with DUI under the following circumstances:
- A vehicle crash occurred, resulting in serious injury or death to another
- A child under the age of 14 was in your vehicle at the time of the arrest
- You did not have a valid license, registration, or insurance when arrested
- You left the scene of the accident
- You fled from the police
The ARD program is generally available to first-time offenders facing DUI charges. Individuals admitted into the ARD program are placed on probation and required to complete certain court-ordered conditions.
Those requirements include completing a Court Reporting Network (CRN) evaluation, driver safety classes, community service, and payment of court costs. In addition, individuals who complete the ARD program are eligible for criminal record expungement through:
- Automatic expungement
- The filing of a Petition for Expungement
The ARD Application Process for Pennsylvania DUI Cases
I understand the specific requirements for the ARD program in Bucks County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County, Chester County, Lehigh County, Delaware County, and Berks County. Successful completion of the ARD program will result in the court’s dismissal of the DUI charges.
Individuals who successfully complete the ARD program are eligible to petition the court for expungement of the records of their DUI case. Furthermore, I can assist you with the application and pre-admission procedures to ensure that you are in the best position to be accepted into the ARD program.
How Long Will my License be Suspended Under ARD?
DUI with a Minor Passenger
The Pennsylvania Vehicle Code creates a separate crime for committing a DUI offense when a minor (under the age of 18) is a passenger in the vehicle. The penalties for DUI with a minor passenger include:
- Mandatory minimum $1,000 fine
- Mandatory 100 hours of community service
- 1st-degree misdemeanor
- 30-day mandatory minimum jail sentence
- Mandatory one month in jail
- Mandatory minimum $2,500 fine
- Up to 5 years maximum jail sentence
- 3rd-degree felony
- Mandatory 6 months in jail
- Up to 7 years maximum jail sentence
Ignition Interlock License for Pennsylvania ARD Suspensions
Individuals facing a 30, 60, or 90-day ARD license suspension will be automatically eligible to apply for an ignition interlock license. If PennDot approves your ignition interlock license application, you will avoid the suspension of your driving privileges mandated under the ARD law.
ARD program participants can either serve the statutorily required driver’s license suspension (referred to as a hard suspension) or apply for the ignition interlock driver’s license.
Ignition Interlock License Procedure for ARD Cases
Individuals facing a 30, 60, or 90-day driver’s license suspension due to admission into ARD for DUI are eligible to apply for an ignition interlock limited license. Approval for the ignition interlock license would enable a driver to maintain their driving privileges during the duration of the ARD-related DUI suspension.
After ARD admission, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDot) will mail a “notification of suspension letter” to the driver indicating the suspension start and end date and instructions for turning over the driver’s license to PennDot.
PA Ignition Interlock Device Installation Requirements
Individuals placed on the ARD program for DUI will receive a restoration requirement letter from PennDot 30 days prior to their eligibility for the PA Ignition Interlock License. Ignition interlock license applicants must provide the restoration requirement letter to an approved Pennsylvania ignition interlock vendor and have an interlock device installed on their vehicle prior to submitting the ignition interlock license petition to PennDot.
Procedures for Mailing the PA Ignition Interlock License Petition
A person applying for an ignition interlock license must forward the following:
- A completed Ignition Interlock Limited License Petition (DL-9108)
- Proof of vehicle insurance
- A check or money order for required PennDot fees by certified mail on or after the date of the driver’s license suspension
PennDot will deny the ignition interlock license request if the petition has a postmark before the date of the driver’s suspension.
PA DUI Sentencing Options
Many sentencing alternatives are available to someone with a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or subsequent DUI offense. Nearly all these sentencing options allow eligible individuals to avoid jail time and maintain their employment and driving privileges.
Most programs allow participants to continue any necessary drug and alcohol treatment for successful rehabilitation. I am familiar with the application and admission process for all DUI sentencing alternative programs.
Finally, I can determine your eligibility for DUI sentencing alternative programs in Bucks County, Montgomery County, and the surrounding counties.
House Arrest for DUI
Home detention programs (also called DUI restrictive probation) provide an alternative to incarceration for individuals facing 1st or 2nd offense DUI charges. Unfortunately, house arrest or home detention placement is unavailable for individuals who must serve their sentence in the state prison system.
House arrest programs are more desirable because they allow you to continue working and complete any necessary drug and alcohol treatment. Therefore, I can determine your eligibility for home detention for your DUI case in Bucks County, Montgomery County, and the surrounding Pennsylvania counties.
Bucks County Restrictive Probation for DUI
The Bucks County DUI Restrictive Probation Program (formerly known as Bucks County House Arrest) began in 2021. Applicants must submit a written application and undergo a home inspection as part of the evaluation process.
The sentencing judge must approve an individual’s placement in DUI home detention even if they pass the restrictive probation screening process. View the Bucks County Restrictive Probation process flowchart from beginning to end.
Individuals approved for the house arrest program must follow specific program rules and are required to wear an ankle bracelet that uses a radio frequency to communicate with a monitoring system. In addition, Bucks County Probation officers will receive an alert if the device is tampered with or removed.
Bucks County GPS Monitoring for Home Detention
The probation department equips the ankle bracelets with Global Positioning System (GPS) software to alert authorities if the wearer travels outside a permitted area. Individuals placed on the Bucks County DUI Restrictive Probation Program can travel to work and attend school. DUI Restrictive Probation participants can also travel to necessary medical appointments and drug and alcohol counseling sessions.
I can help you receive approval for home detention for your Bucks County DUI case.
The Recidivism Risk Reduction Initiative Program for DUI Cases
The Recidivism Risk Reduction Initiative (RRRI) program may be an alternative for individuals facing sentencing for a 3rd or subsequent DUI offense. RRRI is an option for individuals who are not eligible for:
- A county jail sentence
- The county work release program
- The county house arrest program
- The county restrictive probation program
- Other county intermediate punishment programs
Benefits of the RRRI Program
The RRRI program is available to eligible offenders who receive a state prison sentence and are in the custody of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. Also, individuals with a past or present offense involving a crime of violence, a sex crime, or a crime involving a weapon are not eligible for the RRRI program.
Participants in the RRRI program must complete a specified number of rehabilitative programs and maintain proper conduct while in the custody of the DOC. Finally, individuals who meet the RRRI program requirements are eligible for presumptive early parole on their DUI sentence. Therefore, I can determine if you qualify for the RRRI program for your DUI case.
DUI Lawyer Montgomery County PA
Have the police charged you with driving under the influence in Montgomery County, Bucks County, Chester County, or nearby Pennsylvania Counties? As a PA DUI lawyer, I offer aggressive DUI defense at a reasonable rate. Phone lines are open 24 hours a day at (215) 752-5282. Call today for a free initial DUI consultation, or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response.