Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs: it’s one of the most irresponsible actions you can take as a motorist. Not only can it lead to losing your driver’s license, steep fines, or even serious jail time—it can also lead to the loss of life.
But you don’t need us to tell you any of that. In fact, you may be reading this because you or someone close to you has been arrested for driving under the influence, or DUI.
If that’s the case, keep reading: Penglase & Benson is a personal injury, family law and criminal law firm serving Bucks County and Montgomery Country, where we’ve been doing business for many years. And unfortunately, we’ve handled our fair share of DUI cases in that time. As a result, our lawyers are proud to offer an especially compassionate level of service that should ultimately soothe many of your concerns, no matter how complicated or frightening your situation.
Your First DUI Arrest
In Pennsylvania, the penalties for a first DUI depend in part on the BAC, or blood alcohol content, in your system at the time of arrest. Here’s how it all breaks down:
- If you’re a first-time DUI offender with a BAC range of 0.08% to 0.099%, you’ll face no mandatory minimum driver’s license suspension. That doesn’t necessarily mean that your license won’t be suspended; it simply means that the judge overseeing your case won’t be required by law to suspend it for specific amount of time. (Keep reading to learn how many drinks it takes to reach the 0.08 BAC level.)
- If you’re a first-time DUI offender with a BAC range of 0.10% to 0.159%, you’ll likely find yourself in deeper waters—specifically a license suspension of up to one year.
- Even for first-time offenders, if you blow a BAC range of 0.16% or above, you may even have to go two months without the privilege of a hardship/occupational license, which most offenders are allowed throughout the entire length of their suspension. Depending on your employment situation, that could make getting to work a challenge.
How Can I Track My BAC Level?
Without a breathalyzer, there’s no completely accurate way to track your BAC while you’re drinking. There are, however, a number of breathalyzers available on the commercial market—some are even designed to attach to your keychain—so if you’re especially concerned, consider picking one up.
Most people will stay within the legal limit if they stick to just one drink every hour. Once you’ve reached a 0.08% BAC, you’re considered legally impaired, and are not allowed to drive.
There are a number of factors that can influence your BAC. Your gender, your body size, and the amount of food you’ve eaten that day are the obvious ones, but your emotional state and any medications you’re taking can affect your BAC as well. So can your personal level of metabolism, and your overall tolerance to alcohol. That’s why the one-drink-per-hour rule can’t always be relied on. If you’re ever in doubt about your BAC level, take a cab or get a ride from a friend.
Criminal Penalties for a First Time DUI Arrest in Pennsylvania
There are also various criminal penalties you may have to submit to in Pennsylvania, even as first-time DUI offender.
- If your BAC is within the 0.08% to 0.009% range during your first offense, you’re very unlikely to see the inside of a jail. There’s a much better chance, however, that you’ll have earned yourself six month of probation and a minimum of $300 in fines.
- If your BAC measures between 0.10% to 0.159% during your first offense, and you may wind up in jail for at least a few days. The mandatory incarceration period is two days, and the maximum is six months. You’ll also face fines of anywhere from $500 to a whopping $5,000.
- If your BAC range is 0.16% or higher, you could spend more time in jail (anywhere from three days to six months), and you’ll face a minimum fine of $1,000.
In short, drinking and driving is a potentially pricey gamble. And we haven’t even touched on the various other fees you’ll likely face as a result. There are court fees, legal fees, substance abuse classes that may be mandatory, and increased auto insurance costs.
Having a DUI on your record can create quite a mess for your life, financially and otherwise. The legal publishing company Nolo estimates that “the average cost for a non-injury, non-property damage DUI is between $5,000 and $12,000″ when all the associated costs are factored in. Read more of our blog to learn more about the potential costs of a DUI in PA.
Are you beginning to understand why you need to have an aggressive, experienced Bucks County or Montgomery County drunk driving or DUI defense attorney on your side?
At Penglase & Benson, our DUI attorneys understand the stress and anxiety you may be facing after a DUI arrest. You’ll likely have many questions regarding your situation. By retaining one of our experienced DUI attorneys, you’re arming yourself with the knowledge you need to move forward toward the best outcome possible.
To speak with our Doylestown DUI attorneys, call our firm at 215-348-4416. We are conveniently located next to the Bucks County Courthouse. You can find parking in a nearby garage or on the street. We are easily accessible by train, bus and via Route 611 and Route 313. You can also reach us by completing an online contact form.