In most areas of the country, there are two forms of drunk driving charges. One is the General Impairment driving while impaired (DUI) charge which is typically anything of .08 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or higher. The second charge is typically an Aggravated DUI, the conditions of which vary per state. Some states have automatic aggravating factors such as a high BAC or the presence of a child in the car or an accident involving injuries.
In Pennsylvania, there are actually three levels of DUI, two of which could be considered to have aggravating factors. Understanding a DUI charge and its potential consequences is never easy, and in Pennsylvania it can be more difficult than in other states.
If you were arrested for drunk driving, call to schedule an initial consultation with a Pennsylvania DUI lawyer.
Understanding Aggravating Factors in a DUI Charge
There are several factors which can aggravate, or increase, a DUI charge in Pennsylvania. The prosecution may decide to include a number of these factors in the charges, thereby increasing the potential consequences. The task for a DUI defense attorney is to take away these aggravating factors one at a time, until there are few if any remaining.
Aggravating factors include:
- Blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If a BAC level is .10 percent or higher, the DUI offense can be charged as a High BAC or Highest BAC if the level is .16 percent BAC or higher. A DUI defense attorney may seek to challenge the chemical test or the traffic stop to challenge the BAC results.
- Second or subsequent conviction. A previous DUI conviction will increase the potential consequences. For example, a General Impairment DUI first offense could result in x time in jail whereas a General Impairment DUI third offence could result in x jail time. A DUI defense attorney could seek to have an earlier DUI downgraded, dismissed or expunged.
- Accident with injuries. If the DUI is associated with an accident involving serious injuries, the charges can be enhanced.
- Young person in the vehicle. If a person who is 14-years-old or younger is in the car at the time of the DUI arrest, the potential consequences can be increased.
Pennsylvania offers a program called Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) which is available under certain conditions. The advantage of the ARD program is that a conviction can be expunged if a person went through ARD, and it is very difficult to have a conviction expunged without completion of ARD. A person is eligible for ARD if:
- It is the first offense within 10 years
- There were no deaths or serious injuries, other than the alleged offender
- There were no passengers under the age of 14 in the accused’s car at the time of the offense
Although Aggravated DUI is not a specific charge in Pennsylvania, there are aggravating factors which can lead to enhanced drunk driving charges. When any of these aggravating factors are present, the assistance of an experienced DUI attorney is highly recommended.
Take the First Step
If you have been charged with a High BAC DUI or a Highest BAC DUI, you are facing serious consequences. For example, a Highest BAC level DUI (.16 percent BAC or higher) that is a first offense within 10 years can result in:
- A fine of $1,000-$5,000
- A full drug and alcohol assessment with treatment if ordered
- Alcohol Highway Safety School
- Driver’s license suspension of 12 months
- Jail time of 72 hours to six months
- Ungraded misdemeanor charges
If you are facing a DUI with aggravating factors, it may be important that your first step is to consult with and obtain an experienced DUI lawyer.
Contact us to meet with a Pennsylvania attorney who can wage a vigorous DUI defense.