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Pennsylvania has a tiered approach to DUI enforcement

Most Pennsylvania drivers know that in 2003, legislation lowered the legal limit for blood alcohol content from 0.10 percent to 0.08 percent, which is in line with other states. The reduction in BAC level came with other changes in the penalties a drunk driver faces.

Convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol are now managed under a tiered approach, which is more lenient for someone convicted of a first offense since it leans more toward treatment than punishment. However, not all first offenders qualify.

Special cases

There are three levels of DUI in Pennsylvania: General Impairment, High BAC and Highest BAC. A driver whose BAC level is between 0.08 percent and 0.099 percent will fall into the first category, which is the best-case scenario. However, commercial drivers, school bus drivers and minors may be subject to the High BAC penalties, along with those who injure someone or cause property damage in a drunk driving accident, even if evidence does not find that their BAC is in the “high” category.

The High BAC tier

High BAC penalties are for drivers with BAC levels of 0.10 percent to 0.159 percent, and for the special cases mentioned. This is classed as an upgraded misdemeanor and comes with a 12-month license suspension, a fine of up to $5,000, prison time of from 48 hours to six months, attendance at alcohol highway safety school and treatment, if necessary.

The Highest BAC tier

The courts require treatment at the highest tier, which includes those with a BAC level of 0.16 percent or higher, or drivers who are under the influence of a controlled substance. At this level, fines go up, prison time goes up and punishment also comes with a 12-month license suspension.

A serious offense

A DUI conviction is serious. It can affect a person's daily life, educational opportunities and career. An experienced attorney will say that the best course of action is never to drink and drive. Someone who receives a DUI charge, however, may seek the help of an advocate who endeavors to keep him or her out of the two highest BAC tiers and obtain the best possible outcome.

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Haller & Imbarlina, P.C.
20120 Route 19, Suite 208
Gigliotti Plaza
Cranberry Township, PA 16066

Phone: 724-935-0820
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Haller & Imbarlina, P.C.