If any driver is found to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, they will automatically face DUI charges. However, the penalties faced will depend on the circumstances. For example, a first offense DUI will be treated much differently than in a situation where a driver is highly intoxicated and causes a crash in which a person dies.
When facing DUI charges in Pennsylvania, it is important that you understand the different types of charges that are possible and the situations in which they can be applied.
First offense DUI
If you have been found to be over the legal driving limit for the first time and there was no aggravating condition present, it is likely that you will face less severe consequences. However, this does not mean that the consequences you will be subject to will not impact your life. You will likely lose your right to drive for a significant amount of time, and you may even face jail time. Many people convicted of a first offense DUI call into question the accuracy of their Breathalyzer test.
The driver may be charged with an aggravated DUI if another condition was present that made them especially negligent. This could be an instance in which the driver was under the influence of alcohol and there were minors in the car, or when the driver had multiple previous convictions. Alternatively, a person could be charged with an aggravated DUI if they had an extremely high BAC; usually, at least double the legal limit of 0.08%. An aggravated DUI tends to lead to larger fines and longer prison times.
DUI manslaughter and murder
If a crash was caused by drunk driving and this led to the death of another driver, the drunk driver will likely be charged with a DUI manslaughter or a DUI murder charge. These are the most serious of all DUI charges and can lead to many years in prison. A DUI manslaughter charge means that the driver engaged in extreme negligence that led to the death of another, while a DUI murder charge results in behavior that showed extreme indifference to human life.
It is important that you fully understand Pennsylvania DUI laws if you are facing charges. This will help you to defend yourself effectively.