Like other criminal charges, if you are charged with driving under the influence (DUI), you are presumed innocent until proven guilty.  If you are found guilty, state law will determine the penalty.

Quick Pennsylvania DUI Facts:

  1. You can get charged with a DUI if you drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher.
  2. Pennsylvania has a three-tiered DUI system with sentencing based on how high your BAC was at the time of driving.   The three-tiered DUI system is as follows:
    • General impairment: .08 to 0.099% BAC.
    •  High BAC :     0.10 to 0.159%
    • Highest BAC: 0.16% and higher.

If you are found guilty of driving under the influence, Pennsylvania law will determine the punishment.  However, here are a few of the potential penalties you could face:

1. Jail

In all states, the amount of time you could potentially serve in jail will depend on a number of factors, including whether this is your first DUI offense, and your BAC level.  Here are the current minimum jail times in Pennsylvania:

1st offense

2nd offense

3rd offense

BAC .08 – .099: No minimum jail time required

BAC .10 – .159: 2 days jail

BAC .16 and higher: 3 days jail

BAC .08 – .099: 5 days jail

BAC .10 – .159: 30 days jail

BAC .16 and higher: 90 days jail

BAC .08 – .099: 10 days jail

BAC .10 – .159: 90 days jail

BAC .16 and higher: 1 year jail

Having a minor in the car could also increase the likelihood of serving time in jail.

For more information about DUI penalties, read my article about DUI penalties in Pennsylvania.

2. Fines

Jail time is not the only penalty for being found guilty of a DUI.  Courts can also impose very high fines, which can range from $500 to as much as $10,000.

3. Suspended Driver’s License

If you are a DUI offender, it is highly likely that you could have your driver’s license suspended for a substantial period of time.

4. Inability to Find Employment

Because most employers perform criminal background checks on potential candidates, seeing a DUI will be an immediate red flag.  Potential employers may not hire you because they think you lack good judgment, are irresponsible, or that you may struggle with substance abuse.

5. Alternative Penalties

Some states may require offenders to participate in a number of programs, such as:

  • Alcohol prevention programs
  • Treatment for alcohol/substance abuse
  • Assessment for possible alcohol or drug dependency
  • Community service
  • Restitution

DUI offenders may also have to pay to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicles. This device prevents you from operating the vehicle unless your BAC is below a certain level, usually 0.02 percent or 0.04 percent.

6. Should I fight my DUI?

In some instances, there are even more consequences for being convicted of a DUI offense.  For example, the offender’s insurance company could cancel the insurance policy or increase the rates because of the DUI offense.  Furthermore, an individual convicted of a DUI offense may no longer be eligible for certain jobs which involve operating vehicles or machinery, and may even face a potential civil suit from accident victims.

Because the penalties for DUI offenses can be serious and have a life-long impact on the offender, it is important to have an aggressive and experienced criminal defense attorney who understands DUI laws in your corner.

For these reasons and many more, it is critical to have an experienced attorney advocating on your behalf.  Brian Zeiger is an experienced criminal defense attorney who will vigorously defend your rights.  Contact The Zeiger Firm today at (215) 546-0340 for a consultation, and let us help you.



Brian J. Zeiger, Esquire, is an experienced and successful criminal defense and civil rights attorney. He is a seasoned trial lawyer with significant experience before juries and judges. Brian understands civil rights cases, including Taser, Wrongful Death, Excessive Force, Police Brutality, Police Misconduct, Malicious Prosecution, Monell Claims, Sexual Assault, Prisoner’s Rights, Time Credit, Medical Malpractice, and Medical Indifference.