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Spotlight Issue: Mandatory DUI Sentences

by | Oct 16, 2014 | Uncategorized |

So you’ve been charged with a DUI in Berks County and you aren’t eligible for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program (see our prior posting about the DUI ARD program in Berks County). Now what? Our attorneys will meet with you to evaluate the best course of action for your case. Our attorneys will also be able to advise you on the length of sentence that you may be facing. DUI’s carry mandatory minimum sentences. These mandatory minimum sentences are usually based on how many prior DUI’s you have been convicted of in the past ten years and what your blood alcohol content (BAC) was at the time that you were driving. However, this isn’t always the case. Other factors affecting your sentence include, but are not limited to, whether you had drugs in your system when your blood was drawn, whether there were children in the car at the time you were stopped by the police and whether you were involved in a motor vehicle accident. Below are the mandatory minimum sentences for each DUI tier.

(Tier 1) .08 – .10 BAC OR any amount of alcohol which renders a person incapable of safely driving
1st Offense: 6 months probation
2nd Offense: 5 days incarceration
3rd or Subsequent Offense: 10 days incarceration

(Tier 2) .10 – .16 BAC OR involved in an accident OR driving a commercial vehicle with a BAC .04 or above OR driving a school vehicle with BAC .02 or above OR driver is a minor with BAC .02 or above
1st Offense: 48 hours incarceration
2nd Offense: 30 days incarceration
3rd Offense: 90 days incarceration
4th of Subsequent Offense: 1 year incarceration

(Tier 3) .16 BAC and above OR any type of drug in blood OR refusal to submit to blood draw
1st Offense: 72 hours incarceration
2nd Offense: 90 days incarceration
3rd or Subsequent Offense: 1 year incarceration

Are there ways to avoid mandatory minimum DUI jail sentences? Yes. A judge can give you credit towards your mandatory minimum sentence for any time that you’ve spent in an inpatient drug and alcohol treatment program. If you’re facing a second offense DUI, you may be eligible for the Berks County Second Time Offender’s Program (STOP). If you’re facing a third offense DUI, you may be eligible for the Berks County DUI Treatment Court program. Both STOP and DUI Treatment Court allow defendants to replace some of their jail sentence with house arrest or time spent in a halfway house. Our DUI defense attorneys can advise you on whether you are eligible for these programs. The application process for both STOP and DUI Treatment Court is very important and a mistake during the process can bar you from participating in the program. Regardless of whether you’re facing your first DUI or your third, it’s important that you are represented by a knowledgeable DUI attorney to help you get the best sentence possible. Contact us today at (610) 372-5128.

There are also mandatory minimum sentences if you’re caught driving with a DUI suspended license. In Pennsylvania this is commonly called a 1543(b) charge. Your license is considered DUI suspended if the suspension was the result of DUI ARD or a DUI conviction. This is not to be confused with a 1543(a) charge which involves driving with a non-DUI suspended license and usually involves just paying a fine. You can be charged with a 1543(b) violation even if you don’t have a valid license. You will have a DUI suspended license until you have completed your sentence requirements, paid all restoration fees to Penn Dot and Penn Dot has issued you a valid license or has physically returned your license to you. 1543(b) mandatory sentences are based on whether you are driving with a BAC above .02%, have any controlled substance in your blood or refuse to submit to a blood draw and whether you have previously been convicted of 1543(b) violations. Below are the the mandatory minimum sentences for 1543(b) convictions.

BAC below .02% and no controlled substance in blood
1st Offense: 60-90 days incarceration
2nd Offense: 60-90 days incarceration
3rd or Subsequent Offense: 60-90 days incarceration
*You can expect the sentence to increase for each subsequent conviction

BAC above .02% OR controlled substance OR refuse to submit to blood draw
1st Offense: 90 days incarceration
2nd Offense: Not less than 6 months incarceration
3rd or Subsequent Offense: Not less than 2 years incarceration

Are there ways to avoid mandatory minimum sentences for 1543(b) violations? Yes. You may be eligible to participate in the Berks County Driving under Suspension Intermediate Punishment Program (DUS IPP). DUS IPP allows a defendant to serve a house arrest sentence in place of a portion of his or her jail sentence. Our DUI attorneys can advise you as to whether or not you are eligible for the DUS IP program and help you through the application process. Contact our office today at (610) 372-5128.



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