When it comes to DUI defense, Pennsylvania law separates a person’s intoxication into three (3) tiers: “general impairment,” “high rate” and “highest rate.” These tiers are often referred to as the first tier, second or middle tier and third tier. In which tier a person falls determines the sentence they will face.
A person charged under “general impairment” when their BAC is greater than .08 but less than .10. They are charged under the “high rate” when their BAC is .10 to .159 and they fall under the “highest rate” when their BAC is .16 or greater. A person’s BAC rate is important in every case since the level determines, upon conviction, the sentence that will be imposed.
A first time offender is generally impaired and who is generally impaired can receive a sentence no greater than probation not to exceed 6 months, a $300 fine, must attend DUI classes and receive drug and alcohol treatment. They will not have their license suspended.
On the other hand, a first time offender convicted under the highest rate is subject to a sentence of 72 hours in jail followed by six months of parole, a 1 year driver’s license suspension, a minimum of a $1,000 fine which could go as high as $5,000, and be required to attend DUI classes and drug and alcohol treatment.
Most first time offenders can avail themselves to the “Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition” (ARD) program which allows a person to reduce their consequences of a DUI , including avoiding jail time, and a shorter license suspension.
Perhaps most important, a person who successfully completes the ARD program can have their attorney file a motion for expungement of their arrest record. Since most companies perform criminal background checks prior to hiring, a clean record can be the difference in getting hired.
While the vast majority of first time DUI offenders learn their lesson after the first offense, for those that are charged with a second offense it must be understood that the penalties are much greater.
For instance, the sentence for a person convicted for a second offense within 10 years whose BAC is in the first tier will be could be sentenced to five days to six months in county jail, 12 month driver’s license suspension, a fine of anywhere from $300 to $2,500, DUI classes, drug and alcohol treatment if ordered, the person will be required to have the guardian interlock system installed on all their vehicles for 1 year after his or her driver’s license is restored.
A second DUI conviction in 10 years where the BAC is in the third tier is much greater. They will be incarcerated anywhere from 90 days to five years; the fine will be between $1,500 to $10,000, the license suspension will be 18 months, and they will have to take DUI classes, undergo drug and alcohol treatment and install the guardian interlock device on all vehicles.
Before you go to court or enter a plea for DUI, you need some who understands criminal law to look at your case. Were there mistakes? Were the tests properly administered? Were your rights violated? These questions need to be answered before you go into the courtroom. I have the experience and training to help you answer those questions.