What are the New DUI Penalties in Pennsylvania
Newer DUI Penalties in Pennsylvania
According to the Pennsylvania DUI Association, drinking and driving in the state of Pennsylvania remains a top safety issue. Alcohol-related collisions increased in the state from 2016 to 2017 (from 10,256 to 10,346). At the same time, alcohol-related fatalities decreased slightly, from 297 in 2016 to 293 in 2017.
Pennsylvania officials find the increase in alcohol-related fatalities among those under the age of 21 of particular concerns. In 2017, 18 percent of alcohol-related driver fatalities were among those between the ages of 16 and 20. In 2016, that number was 12 percent. In Pennsylvania in 2017, 26 percent of all traffic crash deaths were related to alcohol. The vast majority of drivers arrested and charged with DUI following a traffic crash are male—nearly 74 percent, and about 71 percent of Pennsylvania alcohol-related crashes occur after dark, usually on weekends.
If you are facing DUI charges in Pennsylvania, we can help. Our team of attorneys have the experience, passion, and consideration to protect your future and your freedom during this difficult legal process. Contact us today at (610) 692-8700 or (877) 529-2422. Our Chester County office is located at 304 North High Street, West Chester PA 19380. Our Lancaster Office is located at 313 West Liberty Place, Lancaster PA 17603.
Impaired Driving Enforcement in Pennsylvania
Despite the fact that more than a quarter of all traffic collision deaths involved alcohol in the state, impaired driving enforcement is about more than alcohol impairment. Pennsylvania law enforcement work to identify those motorists who are impaired by prescription drugs, illegal drugs, or a combination of alcohol, prescription drugs, and illegal drugs. According to PennDOT, there were 52,636 arrests made in the state in 2014. Law enforcement says DUI-drug arrests continue to increase, with 20,691 charges for driving under the influence of an impairing drug filed in 2014—a nearly 10 percent increase over 2013.
Pennsylvania DUI Penalties More Severe
Last fall, a new DUI law went into effect in the state of Pennsylvania. Under past laws, those who received repeat DUI charges were still charged with a misdemeanor. The new laws now classify certain DUI offenses as felony crimes, rather than misdemeanors. Under Pennsylvania’s new laws, generally speaking, a fourth or subsequent DUI is now a felony. A second DUI offense will usually fall under a misdemeanor offense with some exceptions. Since felony offenses come with much more severe penalties than misdemeanor offenses, the changes in the law are significant. The changes to the DUI laws are as follows:
- If you kill a person while driving under the influence, you are facing a five-year prison sentence if you have a prior DUI (under the old law, the maximum sentence was three years in prison).
- If you kill a person while driving under the influence and you have two or more prior DUI convictions, you are facing a seven-year prison sentence.
- If you are facing a third DUI conviction and your BAC was 0.16 or higher (and your other two DUI convictions occurred within the past ten years), you will face a third-degree felony punishable by up to seven years in prison.
- If you are facing a fourth DUI conviction (and your other three DUI convictions occurred within the past ten years), you will face a third-degree felony—regardless of your BAC level—which is punishable by up to seven years in prison.
- The new law increases penalties for driving on a suspended license; the maximum penalty under the old law was up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine, for a first or subsequent offense, but under the new law, a second offense results in up to a $1,000 fine and at least 90 days in jail. A third driving with a suspended license offense will result in a $2,500 fine and up to six months in jail.
- Under the new law, any adult who is accompanying a driver with only a learner’s permit must remain sober or be charged with a DUI as a passenger.
Because the new law results in much higher DUI penalties, it is even more important that a Pennsylvania driver facing DUI charges seek guidance from a skilled Pennsylvania drunk driving defense attorney as quickly as possible in order to minimize the impact of a DUI conviction.
The Cost of a DUI in Pennsylvania
The costs associated with impaired driving varies significantly, depending on the factors surrounding the DUI arrest (BAC, arrest location, number of prior offenses), however, it is certain that the minute you are stopped by police for DUI your wallet will begin feeling the effect. Following are the financial costs you can expect to face if you are arrested for DUI in the state of Pennsylvania:
- The traffic fines for a Pennsylvania DUI can range from $300 to $10,000, depending on your specific BAC and how many prior offenses you have.
- You can expect to pay a flat fee of $50 for having your vehicle towed, plus mileage.
- Once your vehicle is towed to an impound lot, you will rack up fees of $75-$175 per day.
- If you hire an attorney for your DUI charges—and you definitely should—you can expect to pay from $2,000-$8,000, depending on the circumstances of your DUI charges.
- If you qualify for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD), you will pay from $100-$1,800.
- Court-mandated alcohol treatment and alcohol education will cost you from $100 to $1,000.
- Getting your driver’s license back once you have had it suspended will cost you $25 for a non-commercial license and $75 for a commercial license.
- Your insurance premiums will increase—in some cases, to the point that insurance becomes unaffordable—as much as $1,000 per year.
In addition to financial issues associated with your Pennsylvania DUI arrest, you will likely face many social ramifications as well. You will be required to appear in court, serve community service requirements, or spend time behind bars—all of which can wreak havoc with your job, possibly even causing you to lose your job. Without a job, you may find it impossible to meet your regular monthly obligations, therefore you could lose your home or worse.
Zero Tolerance for Underage DUI in Pennsylvania
Those who are under the age of 21 and are convicted of driving with any level of alcohol in their bloodstream will face extremely serious consequences under Pennsylvania’s underage DUI laws. A driver under the age of 21 who is convicted of DUI with a 0.02 percent BAC or greater could have his or her license suspended for 12-18 months, could spend from 48 hours to six months in jail, and could face fines from $500 to $5,000. Further, a vehicle does not actually have to be involved for an individual under the age of 21 to lose his or her driving privileges.
It is against the law in the state of Pennsylvania to consume alcohol, possess alcohol, transport alcohol, lie about his or her age to obtain alcohol, or carry a false ID. If convicted of any of these offenses, the individual could face a minimum fine of up to $500 (plus court costs) a license suspension of 90 days for a first offense, a license suspension of one year for a second offense, and a two-year license suspension for a third or subsequent offense.
Ignition Interlock System
In the state of Pennsylvania, any person convicted of a second or subsequent DUI offense must have an ignition interlock system installed on his or her vehicle for one year. An ignition interlock device requires a driver to blow into the device prior to starting the vehicle. If there is no alcohol detected, the vehicle will start as normal. If alcohol is detected, the vehicle will not start. The driver also has to blow into the device periodically as he or she drives. This is to prevent drivers from drinking after they have started the vehicle. If the device detects alcohol while the driver is driving, it will tell the driver to pull over as soon as he or she can safely do so. If the driver does not pull over, the vehicle’s lights will flash, and the horn will honk. It is estimated that ignition interlock devices prevented more than 48,457 impaired drivers from driving just last year.
Pennsylvania—Getting Tough on DUI
While the state of Pennsylvania has never been a state to take it easy on those who drink and drive, the new laws have made it even tougher for individuals who are charged with DUI. If you are facing DUI charges in the state, you may be facing some very severe consequences. These consequences can last for a very long time—even a lifetime. Being without a driver’s license can make it extremely difficult to get to and from work, to and from school, and can prevent you from running the most basic errands: grocery shopping, going to church, visiting friends, banking, going out to eat, going to see a movie and even going on a trip or vacation.
Our Pennsylvania DUI Lawyers Are There When You Need Us
At Ciccarelli Law Offices, our Pennsylvania DUI attorneys are here to help you following your DUI charges. We understand you are facing many serious penalties, and that you may be feeling very anxious about your future. We also understand that if you are unable to drive, you may also be unable to work, therefore, we will fight hard to retain your driving privileges.
We serve clients throughout Pennsylvania from our main office located in Chester County PA at 304 North High Street, West Chester PA and have offices in Lancaster, Philadelphia and suburban Philadelphia including Delaware County and Montgomery County. Contact us by Phone (610) 692-8700, text, or chat. We have successfully defended citizens throughout Pennsylvania who have been arrested and accused of DUI. We have tried cases in the Chester County courts as well as in Exton, Kennett Square, Coatesville, Malvern, Chesterbrook, Phoenixville, Oxford, Honey Brook, Parkesburg, West Chester, Chester Springs, Chadds Ford, Landenberg, Paoli, and Philadelphia.