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PRACTICE AREA

Understanding PA DUI Laws

PRACTICE AREA DETAILS

Date

28 Jan 2017

Lawyer

Joshua Ward

Category

DUI/DWI - Driving Under the Influence

ABOUT THIS PRACTICE AREA

See drop-down menus for a visual matrix of PA DUI law

Tier One

General Impairment:

3802(1) with the following:

  • No Blood alcohol content (BAC) available
  • No refusal to undergo chemical testing
  • No injury or damage (accident)

OR

3802(a)(2) BAC 0.08% to less than 0.10%

Penalties:

Ungraded Misdemeanor

Mandatory 6 months probation

Fine – $300.00

Alcohol Highway Safety School (12.5 hrs min)

No License suspension

Full Drug and Alcohol Assessment if indicated by CRN Evaluation

Tier Two:

3802(b) BAC 0.10% to less than 0.16%

3802(a)(1) with damage or injury

3802(e) Minor with BAC 0.02 or greater

3802(f) Commercial vehicle 0.04% or greater

3802(f) School vehicles 0.02% or greater

3802(f) School/Commercial general impairment (no BAC available) (based on observations / admission)

Ungraded Misdemeanor

Jail – 48 hours to 6 months

Fine – $500 to $5,000

Alcohol Highway Safety School

License Suspension 12 months

Full Drug and Alcohol Assessment and recommended treatment

Tier 3:

3802(c) BAC 0.16 or higher

3802(a)(1) with a refusal of chemical testing

3802(d) Controlled Substances (Marijuana, Opiates, Stimulants, Inhalants, etc.)

Penalties:

Ungraded Misdemeanor

Jail – 72 hours to 6 months

Fine – $1,000 to $5,000

Alcohol Highway SAfety School

License Suspension 12 months

Full Drug and Alcohol Assessment and recommended treatment

Tier One:

General Impairment:

3802(1) with the following:

No Blood alcohol content (BAC) available
No refusal to undergo chemical testing
No injury or damage (accident)
OR

3802(a)(2) BAC 0.08% to less than 0.10%

 Penalties:

Ungraded Misdemeanor

Jail – 5 days to 6 months

Fine – $300 to $2,500

Alcohol Highway Safety School

License Suspension 12 months

Ignition Interlock System in Car 12 months

Full Drug and Alcohol Assessment with treatment recommendations

Tier Two:

3802(b) BAC 0.10% to less than 0.16%

3802(a)(1) with damage or injury

3802(e) Minor with BAC 0.02 or greater

3802(f) Commercial vehicle 0.04% or greater

3802(f) School vehicles 0.02% or greater

3802(f) School/Commercial general impairment (no BAC available) (based on observations / admission)

 

Penalties:

Ungraded Misdemeanor

Jail – 30 days to 6 months

Fine – $750 to $5,000

Alcohol Highway Safety School

License Suspension 12 months

Ignition Interlock System in Car 12 months

Full Drug and Alcohol Assessment with treatment recommendations

Tier 3:

3802(c) BAC 0.16 or higher

3802(a)(1) with a refusal of chemical testing

3802(d) Controlled Substances (Marijuana, Opiates, Stimulants, Inhalants, etc.)

 Penalties:

Misdemeanor 1

Jail – 90 days to 5 months

Fine – $1,500 to $10,000

Alcohol Highway Safety School

License Suspension 18 months

Ignition Interlock System in Car 12 months

Full Drug and Alcohol Assessment with treatment recommendations

Tier One

General Impairment:

3802(1) with the following:

  • No Blood alcohol content (BAC) available
  • No refusal to undergo chemical testing
  • No injury or damage (accident)
    OR

3802(a)(2) BAC 0.08% to less than 0.10%

 Penalties:

Misdemeanor 2

Jail – 10 to 2 years

Fine – $500 to $5,000

License suspension 12 months

Ignition interlock 12 months

Full Drug and Alcohol Assessment and treatment recommendations

Tier Two:

3802(b) BAC 0.10% to less than 0.16%

3802(a)(1) with damage or injury

3802(e) Minor with BAC 0.02 or greater

3802(f) Commercial vehicle 0.04% or greater

3802(f) School vehicles 0.02% or greater

3802(f) School/Commercial general impairment (no BAC available) (based on observations / admission)

 

Penalties:

Misdemeanor 1

Jail – 10 to 2 years

Fine – $500 to $5,000

License suspension 12 months

Ignition interlock 12 months

Full Drug and Alcohol Assessment and treatment recommendations

Tier 3:

3802(c) BAC 0.16 or higher

3802(a)(1) with a refusal of chemical testing

3802(d) Controlled Substances (Marijuana, Opiates, Stimulants, Inhalants, etc.)

Penalties:

Misdemeanor 1

Jail – 1 to 5 years

Fine – $2,500 to $10,000

License suspension 18 months

Ignition interlock 12 months

Full Drug and Alcohol Assessment and treatment recommendations

ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition)

A DUI offense may eligible for ARD under the following circumstances:
  • It is a first offense.
  • It is a Second offense within 10 years of the last offense.
  • No person, other than the offender, was killed or seriously injured.
  • There was no passenger in the offender’s vehicle under the age of 14 at the time of the offense.

Mandatory license suspension guidelines are as follows:

  • No suspension if BAC isunder 0.10% and offender is not a minor.
  • A suspension of 30 days if BAC 0.10% to 0.15999%.
  • A suspension of 60 days if BAC 0.16% or greater, BAC unknown because refusal of testing, DUI involving Drugs, or DUI resulting in an accident with bodily injury or injury or damage to a vehicle or property.
  • A suspension of 90 days if the offender is a minor.

Mandatory Conditions of ARD for a DUI offense:

  • Alcohol Highway Safety School (12.5 hours min).
  • Probation supervision for a minimum of 6 months up to a maximum of 12 months.
  • Full Drug and Alcohol Assessment, if BAC  0.16% or greater or if the CRN profile report indicates a need for further evaluation for D&A counseling or treatment.
  • Mandatory license suspension as indicated above.
  • Restitution to any person who suffered a financial loss.
  • Payment of any other fee, surcharge or cost required by law including fees for Alcohol Highway Safety School, evaluation and treatment.
  • Any other condition established by the court.

Understanding PA DUI Law

PA DUI law is a three-tiered statutory scheme, which punishes drivers with higher blood alcohol levels more severely than drivers with relatively lower blood alcohol levels (“BAC”). Section 3804 sets forth the penalties for individuals who violate Section 3802 (a) first tier, (b) second tier, and (c) third tier. The penalties are gradually more severe for a higher tier of impairment. Specifically, 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3802 sets forth the three tiers of impairment in the following manner:

Tier One Offenses

Section 3802(a)(1), subtitled “[g]eneral impairment,” prohibits an individual from driving a vehicle “after imbibing a sufficient amount of alcohol such that the individual is rendered incapable of safely driving … the vehicle”. Under this section, a conviction can be based on failure of a field sobriety test and the officer’s testimony regarding your apparent intoxication. Individuals are often charged under this section when the BAC test results are unavailable or inadmissible as evidence (suppressed).

 

Section 3802(a)(2) is what we call a per se offense, meaning that it requires proof of a specific BAC. An individual can be charged under tier one with a blood or breath BAC of at least 0.08% but less than 0.10%. For more information on the legality and admissibility of blood and breath tests see our related blog article Pennsylvania applies Birchfield v. North Dakota.

 

Penalties for 1st offense: 6 months of probation. $300 fine. Mandatory alcohol highway safety school (12.5 hours minimum). Alcohol and drug treatment.

2nd offense: Drivers license suspended for 1 year. 5 days to 6 months in prison. Fine ranging $300 to $2,500. Mandatory alcohol highway safety school. Alcohol and drug treatment. Ignition Interlock system for 1 year.

 

3rd offense: 2nd degree misdemeanor charge. Driver’s license suspended for 1 year. Prison from 10 days to 2 years. Fine ranging $500 to $5,000. Alcohol and drug treatment. Ignition Interlock system for 1 year.

Tier Two Offenses

Section 3802(b), subtitled “[h]igh rate of alcohol,” prohibits an individual from driving a vehicle with a BAC of at least 0.10% but less than 0.16%.

 

1st offense: License suspended for 1 year. 48 hours to 6 months in prison. Fine ranging $500 to $5,000. Mandatory alcohol highway safety school. Alcohol and drug treatment.

 

2nd offense: Automatic driver’s license suspension for 1 year. 30 days to 6 months in prison. Fine ranging $750 to $5,000. Mandatory alcohol highway safety school. Alcohol and drug treatment. Ignition Interlock system for 1 year.

 

3rd offense: 1st degree misdemeanor charge. Automatic license suspension of 18 months. 90 days to 5 years in prison. Fine ranging $1,500 to $10,000. Alcohol and drug treatment. Ignition Interlock system for 1 year.

Tier Three Offenses

Section 3802(c), subtitled “[h]ighest rate of alcohol,” prohibits an individual from driving a vehicle with a BAC that is 0.16% or higher. Or, an individual who is impaired by a controlled substance (drugs) or a noxious substance (inhalants) under Sections 3803(c) or (d) is considered a third and highest tier offense. It does not matter the concentration of the drug or inhalant–no matter how little is found in the blood, highest level of impairment is assumed.

 

1st offense: License suspended for 1 year. 72 hours to 6 months in prison. Fine ranging $1,000 to $5,000. Mandatory alcohol highway safety school. Alcohol and drug treatment.

 

2nd offense: 1st degree misdemeanor charge. Automatic suspension of 18 months. 90 days to 5 years in prison. Fine ranging $1,500 to $10,000. Mandatory alcohol highway safety school. Alcohol and drug treatment. Ignition Interlock system for 1 year.

 

3rd offense (and subsequent offenses): 1st degree misdemeanor charge. Automatic suspension of 18 months. 1 to 5 years in prison. Fine ranging $2,500 to $10,000. Alcohol and drug treatment. Ignition Interlock system for 1 year.

What Happens if I Refuse a Blood or Breath Test Under PA DUI Law?

Individuals who refuse chemical testing are technically ineligible for ARD under PA DUI Law.

 

Section 3804 also sets forth the punishment for individuals who refuse a blood or breath test and who are then convicted of DUI, general impairment: the section punishes individuals who refuse the test (and are convicted of Section 3801(a)(1), DUI, general impairment) at the same level as those who are convicted of Section 3802(c), which is DUI, highest rate of alcohol.

 

Law Enforcement will have you sign a DL-26 Form upon refusal of testing, and deliver it to PennDot. The Department will then institute a civil case to suspend your license for one year for the refusal. For more information on Pennsylvania’s Implied Consent Law, testing and refusal, see our blog article on Birchfield and the Implied Consent Law.

 

Curiously, there are no increased criminal penalties for refusal when the charge is related to drugs or noxious substances. However, regardless of conviction or plea, PennDot will impose a mandatory 1 year civil suspension for the refusal. This is a civil case and not part of the criminal case.

Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition (ARD)

An individual is also ineligible for ARD if they had a prior first DUI offense within 10 years of the new offense.  Time is calculated from the end of the last sentence to the date of the new arrest.

 

An individual is also ineligible if someone other than the driver is seriously injured or killed.

 

An individual is ineligible if they were arrested with a passenger under age 14.

 

First time offenders that meet the above criteria may qualify for the ARD program. If your attorney makes an application and you are accepted into the program you will be required to attend 12.5 hours at the Alcohol Highway Safety School as well as enroll in drug and/or alcohol treatment. Mandatory Intermediate Punishment (probation) for 6 months. You will have to pay fines, court costs, and cost for treatment from $300 up to $5,000. Monies paid are typically no more than $900 exclusive of attorney fees.  Depending on the tier of the offense the following will also apply:

 

First Tier: no license suspension.

Second Tier: 30 days license suspension.

Third Tier: 60 day license suspension. This includes a charge with a refusal of chemical testing or a DUI resulting in accident with non-serious bodily injury or damage to property.

 

*90 day license suspension if the driver is a minor.  For more information on when to accept an ARD Plea, see our web page ARD Program for DUI.

Call to Speak With One of our Experienced Attorneys Today Regarding PA DUI Law. 412-545-3015.

Pennsylvania DUI law is very complex and has many exceptions.  Please do not attempt to defend yourself.  Contact an experienced defense attorney.  None of the above information should be taken as complete legal advice.

 

Questions?  Get in Touch With A PA DUI Attorney Today!

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Our Address

The Law Firm of Fenters Ward 201
South Highland Ave. Suite 201
Pittsburgh, PA 15206

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