Like other states, Pennsylvania has different levels of penalties for drunk driving that depend on different circumstances. Specifically, the law of Pennsylvania considers prior drunk driving offenses and the level of a person’s blood alcohol content at the time of their arrest.

Basically, the state categorizes DUIs into one of three groups:

BAC Over Legal Limit

The lowest level of drunk driving offense applies when a person has no other DUIs and has a blood alcohol content of less than .10% yet over the legal limit of .08%. With respect to criminal penalties, the accused will face up to six months on probation and will have to go to a special class.

Anyone who has a prior conviction will face a one-year license suspension as well as jail time. In addition to the license suspension, a person will also be required to drive with an ignition interlock device for up to a year.

High BAC

For those who test at a higher blood alcohol content, at least .10%, even the first offense will result in a one-year license suspension. Fines can range from $500 to $5,000, and a person will receive at least 48 hours in jail but can go as high as six months in jail. Again, the court may also require special classes and alcohol treatment.

Someone with prior convictions will receive at least 30 days in jail and may receive up to 5 years in prison depending on how many prior DUI convictions the person has. A mandatory one-year driving term with an ignition interlock device will also apply; for those who have at least two prior DUIs, the license suspension will be 18 months.

Highest BAC

Those with at least a .16% BAC face even more severe penalties for their first DUI. The minimum jail sentence for the first offense in this bracket is 72 hours or three days. Likewise, the minimum fine is $1,000 instead of $500.

An 18-month license suspension will apply if a person accused of this offense has a prior DUI. The minimum jail sentence in these circumstances is 90 days.

The particularly scary thing about the Highest BAC bracket is that driving with any amount of a controlled substance in one’s system automatically puts the accused in the highest bracket. Someone charged with any level of DUI should take the matter seriously. In addition to criminal penalties, several collateral consequences may apply.

Those who allegedly blew over .10% BAC or who are accused of driving under the influence of drugs face particularly tough penalties and should consider their legal options.