A Constant Problem
If you listen to the news after a weekend, chances are you will hear a good deal of reports of DUI and DWI charges. People who go out for a night and have a few drinks with friends may not realize that they are too inebriated to drive. They may swerve, speed, or even, unfortunately, get into an accident. If the police are able to pull a car over and find proof of alcohol use by the driver, the driver may be charged with DUI or DWI.
What Is A DUI?
DUI means driving under the influence. If you are driving your car and your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is found to be over 0.08 you are considered to be under the influence. It may also be used when a driver is under the influence of drugs. This is the lesser of the two and comes with less severe punishments. These can include:
The punishment for a DUI depends heavily on the background of the driver. If the driver has already been charged with a DUI in the past, the severity of the punishment will increase proportionally. For example, if you have had two or more prior DUIs, you could be sent to prison for up to two years, have your license suspended for 12 months, and it could be charged as a second degree misdemeanor. If this is your first DUI, it is still treated very seriously. You may have to pay a fine, you may be placed on probation, or you may need to attend alcohol highway safety school. Because this is such a serious, dangerous crime, the punishments reflect that, in an attempt to discourage such an event from happening again.
How Does It Work In Pennsylvania?
In 2003, Pennsylvania officially lowered the DUI threshold from a BAC of 0.10 to 0.08. The state uses a three-tier system to label the DUIs and follows the idea of prior charges leading to more intense punishments, as noted above. Additionally, if the BAC of the driver is between 0.10 and 0.16, a higher level of penalties is reached. In that case, depending on prior incidents, the driver could spend up to five years in prison, and have their licenses suspended for up to 18 months. If the BAC is over 0.16, the penalties increase even more, as this is the highest rate DUI in Pennsylvania. This is also invoked when a driver is found to have controlled substances in the car with them.
As in most states, the level of the punishment will vary per driver, dependent on the factors above. To find what the BAC is, if the driver has been lawfully arrested for a DUI, they are required to submit to a breathalyzer or blood test to check the level of the alcohol. From there, the rest of the charges are determined.
If you have been stopped for driving under the influence, or charged with a DUI or DWI, you will need help from an experienced attorney. These laws are strict and you will need help to navigate your way through. Contact our Bucks County criminal attorneys at Kardos, Rickles & Hand. We can help you through your case.