Have you been arrested for DUI in Pennsylvania for the first time? If so, there’s a good chance that your final sentence will not include jail time. However, certain circumstances might change that. These include your level of intoxication, your criminal history, and if there was a minor in the car.
Getting Help with Your First DUI Arrest
Worrying about whether or not you’ll be sentenced to jail after your first DUI arrest presumes that you will be convicted. You still have the option to plead not guilty, plead to lesser charges, or join the ARD program.
Even if you are convicted for a first-time DUI offense, jail time is not one of the listed penalties for DUI in Pennsylvania. You would also need a high blood alcohol content (BAC) level, a minor in the car, or some other outside circumstance for automatic jail time.
None of this is to suggest that you’ll get off easy the first time. Individuals facing DUI charges pay extensive fines, cover the costs of a mandatory probation period, and risk getting fired from their job. They have a personal interest in attempting to fight their charges. Charges can be reduced or dropped. One can even request leniency in exchange for cooperation with the prosecution.
If you’ve been arrested for driving while intoxicated, talk to a Pennsylvania DUI lawyer to learn about your legal rights and available options. Steven E. Kellis has handled hundreds of DUI cases like yours. He has the experience to help you secure the best possible outcome.
Call (267) 314-6693 or contact us online to schedule a free, no-obligation case review with an experienced Pennsylvania DUI attorney today.
Penalties for First-Time DUI in PA
Pennsylvania has multiple tiers of DUI offense that correspond to your BAC as shown on test results either before or after your arrest.
- General impairment: .08 to .099% BAC, or Undetermined BAC
- High BAC: .10% to .159% BAC
- Highest BAC or Controlled Substance DUI: .16% and higher, or the presence of illegal drugs that impair safe driving
If you were arrested with less than a .10% BAC and there are no other offenses associated with your DUI arrest, then the maximum penalties you will face are as follows:
- Mandatory six months’ probation
- $300 fine
- Alcohol highway safety school
- Possible drug and alcohol treatment program
However, a high BAC penalty (.10% to .159% BAC) carries a minimum of 48 hours in jail and up to six months in prison. The highest BAC penalty (.16% and higher) carries between 72 hours and six months in prison – all for your first offense.
You can still go to jail or face other penalties even if you do not have a .10% BAC or higher. Additional penalties may apply if you:
- Are a minor (under 18)
- Were operating a commercial vehicle or school bus
- Drove under the influence of other drugs, such as marijuana, methamphetamine, or opioids
- Caused an accident that resulted in bodily injury or death
You will face increased fines and community service if you are arrested for DUI while carrying a minor in your vehicle, but not possible jail time. However, if this is your second related offense with a minor occupant, you may be sentenced to prison for one to six months.
The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program
The ARD program is an option for many first-time DUI defendants. It is a program offered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to help individuals without a criminal history.
By participating in the ARD program, you are agreeing to the terms and conditions in exchange for the prosecution halting all activity on your case. In a sense, completing ARD means your case never went to trial. You can also petition to have your arrest and charges removed (expunged) from your criminal record.
Participation in ARD will include monitoring, substance abuse classes, and possible community service. If you violate the terms at any time, prosecution of your case is likely to immediately restart, putting you in the same position as before.
Entering ARD can sound like a nice alternative to facing a DUI trial, but individuals should first weigh all of their options. You can only participate in ARD once. If you can have the charges dropped or obtain a “not guilty” verdict instead, you should.
An experienced DUI lawyer in Pennsylvania can discuss your options, including ARD, and help you choose the one that’s in your best interest.
Avoiding Jail Time for a 1st-Time DUI Isn’t Always Easy, But It Is Possible
Pennsylvania laws may seem lenient, but that doesn’t mean anyone should walk into their case blind. They should know what the prosecution has in store for them, what legal options are at their disposal, and what choices might have the best possible outcome.To learn more and make better decisions in handling a first-time DUI, speak to an experienced Pennsylvania DUI lawyer. Book a free, no-obligation case evaluation by calling (267) 314-6693 or contacting us online now.