Have You Been Charged With Your First DUI? Here's What You Should Know

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Dec 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

Some states categorize driving under the influence (DUI) as a traffic violation. But states like Pennsylvania crack down on DUI offenders by making it a criminal offense. This means that even the first time you make a mistake, you may be facing harsh repercussions with little leniency. If you've been charged with this crime, it's in your best interest to immediately hire an attorney. Too much is at stake to not have a criminal defense attorney in your corner. But to truly understand the gravity of a DUI conviction, you need information. I'll provide you with everything you need to know about your charges, potential consequences, and legal representation in this article.

Elements That Will Affect Your Sentence

A drug and/or alcohol DUI conviction results in a tough set of criminal penalties, even for the first time. A person could have a clean driving record with no criminal history, and a judge may still feel inclined to impose harsh legal penalties, depending on the circumstances. The severity of your sentence will be based on a number of factors, including:

  • Your age
  • Your level of impairment
  • The amount of property damage, if any
  • The age of the passengers in the car with you at the time of arrest
  • Your status as a commercial driver, if applicable

If you refused to take a chemical test, this is known as a violation of Pennsylvania's implied consent law. This refusal will also be considered by a judge and may lead to additional penalties.

Legal Penalties

All first-time DUIs are a misdemeanor offense. The penalties imposed for this crime are traditionally classified according to your blood alcohol content (BAC) level. They're grouped as follows:

General impairment (0.08% - 0.099%)

  • Sentence: Up to six months of probation
  • Fine: $300
  • License Suspension: None
  • Other: Highway safety school, drug and alcohol treatment if ordered

High BAC (0.10% - 0.159%)

  • Sentence: Up to six months in jail
  • Fine: $500 - $5,000
  • License Suspension: One year
  • Other: Highway safety school, drug and alcohol treatment if ordered

Highest BAC (0.16% and higher)

  • Sentence: Up to six months in jail
  • Fine: $1,000 - $5,000
  • License Suspension: One year
  • Other: Highway safety school, drug and alcohol treatment if ordered

It's important to note that these penalties may be increased if any of the elements mentioned up above come into play in your case.

Effects On Employment and Insurance

Outside of the penalties imposed by the criminal justice system are additional repercussions that you should be aware of. Because a DUI conviction indicates a criminal history, it'll show up in a background check. DUIs have a strong social stigma that may make employers reluctant to hire you.

To your insurance provider, a DUI conviction makes you a high-risk driver. As a result, your auto insurance rates may go up quite a bit. Also, the majority of insurance policies refuse to cover damages arising from the commission of a drunk driving offense.

You Need An Attorney

Even a first-time DUI offense can have a significant impact on your finances, your livelihood, and your opportunities. This is why they should always be taken seriously. With such high stakes, don't hesitate to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you get the best possible outcome.

Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped many of this clients get reduced sentences and dismissed DUI charges due to this skill, expertise, and experience. He can do the same for you. Contact him today.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than 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.

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