St. Patrick’s Day.

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St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday full of parades, parties, corned beef and booze.  Before you decide to get behind the wheel of your car after drinking whiskey and green beer at a St. Patrick’s Day party, here is what you should know if you get pulled over and charged with a DUI.

Drinking and driving over the legal limit is illegal and comes with harsh penalties.  In Pennsylvania, there are three levels associated with the Driving Under the Influence Law, or commonly known as DUI.  The levels are based on a driver’s Blood Alcohol Content level, or BAC, combined with a driver’s prior offense, to determine the penalty imposed.

The lowest tier, known as General Impairment, includes BAC levels from .08 to .099%.  If a driver’s BAC level is within this range, penalties include: up to six (6) months probation, a $300 – $5,000 fine, license suspension for twelve (12) months, court ordered treatment, alcohol highway safety school, five (5) days to six (6) months jail time, ten (10) days to two (2) years prison time, one (1) year ignition interlock, and either an ungraded misdemeanor or a 2nd degree misdemeanor on your record.  The more lenient penalties are imposed on a driver with no prior DUI offenses or one (1) prior DUI offense.  The harsher penalties are imposed on a driver with two (2) or more prior DUI offenses.

The middle tier, known as High BAC, includes BAC levels from .10 to .159%.  If a driver’s BAC level is within this range, penalties include: a $500 to $10,000 fine, license suspension for twelve (12) to eighteen (18) months, forty-eight (48) hours to five (5) year prison time, alcohol highway safety school, court ordered treatment, one (1) year ignition interlock, and either an ungraded misdemeanor or a 1st degree misdemeanor on your record.  The more lenient penalties are imposed on a driver with no prior DUI offenses or one (1) prior DUI offense, while the more harsher penalties are imposed on a driver with two (2) or more DUI offenses and three (3) or more DUI offense.

The highest tier, known as Highest BAC, includes BAC levels of .16% or higher as well as for drivers who refuse breath or chemical testing and drivers under the influence of controlled substances.  If a driver falls into this category, the penalties include: a $1,000 to $10,000 fine, license suspension of twelve (12) to eighteen (18) months, seventy-two (72) hours to five (5) years prison time, alcohol highway safety school, court ordered treatment, one (1) year ignition interlock, and either an ungraded misdemeanor or 1st degree misdemeanor on your record.

Additionally, there is a program called Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) for first time DUI offenders.  Drivers who are accepted into this program, which is dependent upon their criminal history, must follow certain conditions such as community service, alcohol education classes and treatment.  Additionally, drivers will have their licenses suspended from thirty (30) to ninety (90) days. After a driver has completed the program successfully, he or she can request that the Court dismisses the charges and have his or her case expunged.

There are a special group of drivers who have a lower threshold of being charged with a DUI.  A driver under the age of twenty-one (21) years can be charged with a DUI if his or her BAC level is .02% or greater.  A driver of a commercial vehicle can be charged with a DUI if his or her BAC level is .04% or greater. A driver of a school bus can be charged with a DUI if his or her BAC level is .02 or greater.

D’Amico Law, PC is a law firm located in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, servicing clients in Chester County and surrounding counties.  D’Amico Law, PC offers legal services in the areas of DUI law, minor criminal matters, estate planning, personal injury, family law matters, family law mediation, corporate law and estate administration.  For information concerning DUI law or other professional legal services, contact our office at 610-444-4555.