If you’ve recently been arrested for a first-time DUI offense in Pennsylvania, you may be feeling scared, confused, and unsure about the future. While penalties for a first-time offense are not as significant as those for subsequent offenses, they could still significantly affect your life.
A Pennsylvania DUI defense attorney can create a defense strategy to achieve the best possible case result on your behalf.
Under Pennsylvania law, an individual cannot “drive, operate, or be in actual physical control” of a vehicle after consuming alcohol or controlled substances that render a person incapable of driving or operating a vehicle safely.
When a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they can be charged with a DUI, or “driving under the influence.” A first-offense DUI refers to a person’s first DUI within the last 10 years in Pennsylvania or any other state.
Once a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is at least .08%, this is considered impairment. BAC can be measured in several ways, including the use of a breathalyzer or blood samples.
Pennsylvania is an implied consent state. This means that by operating a vehicle within the state, you have given implied consent to have your breath or blood tested for alcohol or drugs. Unfortunately, this also means that refusing to test can result in additional penalties.
Many DUI charges are misdemeanors — less serious offenses. However, certain details could bring about a felony DUI charge. For example, if the offender caused an accident that resulted in serious bodily harm or death, the charge could be a felony.
Penalties for a first-offense DUI in Pennsylvania are usually not as severe, but it depends on the situation.
Consequences for a first-offense DUI are based on the circumstances. Factors to consider include a person’s BAC and age, among others. Penalties for first-offense DUI could include jail time, fines, probation, and license suspension.
For general impairment, meaning a driver’s BAC was between .08% and .099%, the penalties include:
For high rate DUI, meaning the driver’s BAC was at least .10% but less than .16%, the penalties are increased. They include:
The penalties for high rate DUI also automatically apply to individuals who are under the legal drinking age of 21, are operating a commercial vehicle, or caused an accident resulting in property damage or injury.
The penalties for the highest rate of DUI — a BAC above .16% — are the most severe. Penalties for a first offense include:
Offenders could also face these penalties if they refuse breathalyzer testing or have controlled substances in their system.
If an offender is convicted, before sentencing they’ll need to complete an alcohol and drug evaluation. Then, the offender will likely need to abide by the evaluator’s recommendations. Offenders convicted of a first or second offense are usually required to complete an alcohol highway safety class as well.
Community service is up to the judge. Judges can order up to 150 hours of community service, depending on the situation.
When an offender’s license is suspended after a DUI conviction, they must have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in their vehicle. The device is usually required for at least one year. However, first-time offenders may apply for an ignition interlock limited license (IILL) during the suspension period.
Along with the legal penalties a first-time DUI offender faces, there are other types of consequences for an individual convicted of a DUI.
It’s important to understand that a DUI conviction almost always stays on your criminal record for life. The only way around this is to expunge it, meaning it is erased from your record, or to seal your record, so it remains on your record but it is confidential and inaccessible to most everyone.
Because your DUI conviction remains on your record, this could affect your life in several ways.
First, a DUI conviction could impact employment. Many employers run background checks on potential employees, revealing plenty of information. Unfortunately, many employers try to avoid hiring individuals with DUI convictions, especially if the job entails operating a vehicle.
After a DUI conviction, auto insurance rates can increase considerably. On average, a DUI conviction could increase insurance in Pennsylvania by 74%, depending on the severity of the charges and the insurance company. After a DUI, insurance companies view a driver as more of a risk, so they increase rates to compensate or drop their coverage altogether.
When a person causes an accident due to impairment, they may also face civil liability. Causing injury or death to a person could lead to a lawsuit, which could result in serious financial repercussions.
Finally, a DUI conviction could have an impact on personal relationships. Family and friends can view a person differently after a DUI. Also, when an offender isn’t allowed to drive because of a suspended license, it can be challenging to make plans and go places.
Whether it’s a first-time offense or a subsequent offense, a DUI conviction can have a substantial effect on a person’s life.
If you’re facing charges for a first time DUI, do not wait to consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney in Pennsylvania. A lawyer can have a significant positive impact on your case and help you achieve the best possible outcome.
A skilled DUI defense attorney has the knowledge and resources necessary to craft a viable defense on your behalf and fight diligently for a favorable case result. Defense lawyers are passionate about helping clients with their legal troubles, and they’ll stop at nothing to protect your rights.
The legal team at McCormick & Vilushis LLC has years of experience representing DUI clients. We’re ready to assist you and fight for your future.
Contact our firm today to schedule your consultation.
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