What Exactly Constitutes a DUI in PA?

The state of Pennsylvania has extremely rigorous laws regarding Driving Under the Influence (DUI), with those who are convicted facing a minimum jail stay and required license suspension. However, the state is different from most others in the way that it categorizes DUI offenses, and it is important for those accused of a DUI violation to understand that difference, as well as what happens if you are a repeat offender.

One of the biggest differences between the state of Pennsylvania and most other states is that the majority of the DUI charges that a person can be accused of are misdemeanors. While other states treat repeat offenses of DUI laws as felonies, in Pennsylvania DUI violations do not rise to the felony classification until a crash has occurred that either harms or kills others.

Specifically, the three categories of DUI misdemeanor depend upon the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC). The categories are as follows:

  • BAC between .08 and .099 – General impairment
  • BAC between .10 and .159 – High Impairment
  • BAC over .16 – Highest level of impairment

When a driver is charged with a first or second DUI offense, it is generally considered an ungraded misdemeanor, while anybody convicted three or more times are charged as first or second-degree misdemeanors depending upon the level of BAC. If a previous offense occurred more than ten years earlier, it will not count against the driver.

The most serious DUI charges in the state of Pennsylvania are reserved for those in which people were injured or died. These are considered felony offenses, no matter whether the victim was a passenger in your own vehicle or was riding in someone else’s car. The three DUI felonies are:

  • Felony DUI with Injury – This charge is applicable when a driver is found to have a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit and causes injury to another. The injury does not need to be severe for the charge to apply. Drivers convicted of Felony DUI with injury face up to six months in jail and increased fines.
  • Aggravated Assault While Under the Influence – This charge is applicable when a driver is found to have a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit and causes serious injuries, such as those that could lead to death, permanent disfigurement or long-term impairment. Drivers convicted of Aggravated Assault While Under the Influence face significant jail time and fines.
  • Homicide While Under the Influence – This charge is the most serious DUI-related charge and applies when a driver whose blood alcohol concentration is above the legal limit and is responsible for causing a death. This is a second-degree felony that carries significant time in prison and fines.

If you feel you were unfairly convicted of a DUI in Pennsylvania, contact our experienced legal team today!