Drunk Driving / DUI

A DUI arrest in Pennsylvania is more common than one might think, with over 50,000 arrests made in 2011 alone. Since most DUI offenses are misdemeanors, it is easy to assume that being arrested for driving under the influence in Philadelphia or other parts of Pennsylvania is not that pressing or weighty of an issue.

However, the opposite is true. Pennsylvania has extensive, strict DUI laws with different levels of intoxication and consequences. Additionally, reduction of your charges to a wet reckless, or a reckless driving charge with alcohol instead of DUI, is barred by statute. Having an experienced criminal lawyer in Philadelphia at your side from the very beginning of the process could bolster your defense and help increase your chances of a dismissal or not guilty charge.

Philadelphia DUI Defense Lawyer

Joseph D. Lento of Lento Law Firm is an experienced attorney and veteran of first-time and repeat DUI trials. Your first consultation is free, and Joseph Lento works with each case personally, so call (215) 535-5353 today to see if he is the right Philadelphia DUI defense lawyer for you.

Driving Under the Influence, Information Center

Pennsylvania DUI Law – Basic Principles

In Pennsylvania, you can be arrested for DUI for being over the legal limit, for driving while impaired by alcohol but not necessarily over the legal limit, and for driving under the influence of drugs.These laws for DUI in Pennsylvania are defined in 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. §3801-3817. The controlled substances you can be charged with driving under the influence of include

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Meth
  • Ecstasy
  • Inhalants
  • Prescription drugs – Xanax, Codeine, Vicodin, Valium, Ritalin, Adderall

Pennsylvania law also allows for a DUI arrest if you are in actual physical control of the car – generally, if it can be deduced that you were probably driving or were capable of driving the vehicle, you can be charged with DUI. Additionally, Pennsylvania has an implied consent law that state that any person driving on Pennsylvania roads is automatically giving his or her consent to a blood, breath, or urine test for alcohol or drugs. If you refuse, you face consequences like an administrative license suspension.

Levels of Impairment in Pennsylvania by BAC

In addition to having a base legal limit at .08% of blood or breath alcohol content (BAC), Pennsylvania has specific tiers of impairment based on percentages of BAC. As the level of alcohol present increases, so do the penalties.

It is also important to consider that Pennsylvania is a zero tolerance state for underage drivers – and drivers under 21 caught with a BAC of over .02 will be subject to additional penalties. This also applies to commercial drivers and bus drivers, but with a limit of .04. The levels of impairment for DUI in Pennsylvania are:

General Impairment

  • .08% to .099%

High BAC

  • .10% to .159%

Highest BAC

  • .16% and up
  • DUI Drugs
  • Defendant refuses chemical testing

Consequences Per DUI Offense

What consequences someone charged with DUI in Philadelphia faces depends on if the defendant did a BAC test, how impaired he or she was, and whether it is a first or subsequent offense. If property damage, personal injury, or death occur the charges and penalties will be even more severe. The basic DUI penalties if no damage occurs are:

General Impairment

First DUI Offense

  • Up to 6 months of probation
  • Up to $300 fine
  • Mandatory alcohol highway safety school
  • Mandatory alcohol treatment

Second DUI Offense

  • Up to 1 year driver's license suspension
  • Up to 1 year of required ignition interlock device
  • 5 days – 6 months of jail time
  • $300 - $2,500 fine
  • Mandatory alcohol treatment

Third or Subsequent DUI Offense

  • Second-degree misdemeanor
  • Up to 1 year driver's license suspension
  • Up to 1 year of required ignition interlock device
  • 10 days to 2 years of jail time
  • $500 - $5,000 fine
  • Mandatory alcohol treatment

High Alcohol Content Arrests

First High BAC DUI Offense

  • Up to 1 year driver's license suspension
  • $500 - $5,000 fine
  • Mandatory alcohol highway safety school
  • Mandatory alcohol treatment

Second High BAC DUI Offense

  • Automatic 1 year driver's license suspension
  • Up to 1 year of required ignition interlock device
  • 30 days to 6 months of jail time
  • $750 - $5,000 fine
  • Mandatory alcohol highway safety school
  • Mandatory alcohol treatment

Third High BAC DUI Offense

  • First-degree misdemeanor
  • Automatic 18-month license suspension
  • Up to 1 year of required ignition interlock device
  • 90 days – 5 years of jail time
  • $1,500 - $10,000 fine
  • Mandatory alcohol treatment

Fourth High BAC DUI Offense

  • First-degree misdemeanor
  • Automatic 18-month license suspension
  • Up to 1 year of required ignition interlock device
  • 1 to 5 years of jail time
  • $1,500 - $10,000 fine
  • Mandatory alcohol treatment

Consequences for Highest BAC

First Highest BAC DUI Offense

  • Up to 1 year driver's license suspension
  • 72 hours to 6 months of prison
  • $1,000 - $5,000 fine
  • Mandatory alcohol highway safety school
  • Mandatory alcohol treatment

Second Highest BAC DUI Offense

  • First-degree misdemeanor
  • Automatic 18-month license suspension
  • Up to 1 year of required ignition interlock device
  • 90 days – 5 years of prison
  • $1,500 - $10,000 fine
  • Mandatory alcohol highway safety school
  • Mandatory alcohol treatment

Third or Subsequent Highest BAC DUI Offense

  • First-degree misdemeanor
  • Automatic 18-month license suspension
  • Up to 1 year of required ignition interlock device
  • 1 to 5 years of jail time
  • $2,500 - $10,000 fine
  • Mandatory alcohol treatment

Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition

Pennsylvania's accelerated rehabilitative disposition programs are special pre-trial intervention programs offered by the district attorneys of the state to non-violent offenders with either no prior record or a very limited prior record. The purpose is to rehabilitate the offender while eliminating the need for the traditional costly, extensive criminal process. Candidates for the program are screened closely by the DA presiding over where the offense was committed.

Since the program is rehabilitative, the defendant faces reduced penalties and is more likely to be involved in required programs like a driver safety course and community service. What the qualifications for the program are and what each program involves differs by county. However, throughout Pennsylvania, once the program is complete it allows the records to be expunged.

Pennsylvania DUI Resources

Philadelphia Police Department – The home page of Philadelphia P.D.'s website is the gateway to many helpful resources, including district information, safety and prevention links, and officer complaint forms.

Philadelphia Police Department
750 Race Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Non-emergency Phone: 311
 

MADD - Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Pennsylvania - This MADD page has the contact information you need to get in touch with the local MADD branch. The rest of the site has useful resources like drunk driving statistics, state DUI information, and underage drinking information.

Southeast Pennsylvania Alcoholics Anonymous – This is the homepage for the Philadelphia-area Alcoholics Anonymous organization. Here you can find information on alcoholism, the 12 steps program, local meetings, and local events.

Finding the Best DUI Lawyer in Philadelphia

If you have been charged with a drunk or drugged driving offense in Pennsylvania, contact Joseph Lento of Lento Law Firm to begin constructing your defense. Lento has the experience and the will needed to fight for the protection of your rights and your freedom. Call today to schedule your Philadelphia DUI case consultation for free at (215) 535-5353.

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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has nearly a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania and New Jersey attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations – the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, or New Jersey should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.

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