What a DUI in Pennsylvania means for your future

Drunk Driving
By Goodwin Como, P.C.

Compared to other states, Pennsylvania is pretty strict when it comes to drunk driving. If you get arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), here’s what you should know:

Immediate consequences

The court considers two factors in assessing the penalty for a DUI offense: your number of prior DUI offenses and your level of DUI. The DUI level is based on your blood alcohol content at the time of your arrest:

  • Level 1: General impairment (.08 to .099 percent)
  • Level 2: High blood alcohol content (.10 to .159 percent)
  • Level 3: Highest blood alcohol content (.16 percent and above)

Your level of intoxication—considered together with your number of prior DUI offenses—determines your DUI penalty. For instance, if you’re arrested at level 1, and it’s your first offense, the state considers this offense an ungraded misdemeanor—the least serious type of misdemeanor. You could expect a $300 fine and up to six months of probation. If, however, you’re arrested at level 3, and you have a previous DUI offense, this would be a much more serious offense: a first-degree misdemeanor. You could face as much as five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Future consequences

Having a DUI on your record can also have implications for you further down the line. For instance, you could face higher car insurance premiums. Some auto insurance providers may also be unwilling to give you coverage.

It’s also important to note that Pennsylvania considers drunk driving to be a crime—not a traffic violation, as in some states. This means that a DUI will end up on your permanent criminal record—which can hurt your chances of getting a job or securing a loan.

If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence, consulting with an experienced DUI attorney can be extremely valuable in fighting the charges and avoiding conviction.