According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the police made over 44,000 arrests across the state for DUIs in 2021. Driving under the influence poses severe repercussions that can significantly affect your life.
Pennsylvania imposes strict rules and penalties to discourage impaired driving. If the police arrested you for a DUI, it is important to understand what could cause the charges to escalate to a felony.
What constitutes a DUI
If you drive in Pennsylvania with a Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.08% or higher, you will likely face DUI charges. The gravity of the charges and penalties increases depending on your BAC level and any previous DUI convictions. If you have a BAC below 0.10% and no prior DUI convictions, you’ll usually face a misdemeanor charge.
How a DUI becomes a felony
In Pennsylvania, a DUI becomes a felony under specific circumstances. If you have three DUI convictions within a 10-year period, the fourth and subsequent offenses become third-degree felonies. Furthermore, if your impaired driving results in serious bodily injury or death, the charge becomes a felony, regardless of prior offenses.
Consequences of receiving a felony DUI
A felony DUI charge carries severe consequences. A felony conviction can mean you must pay anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000 in fines, go to jail for up to five years and install an ignition interlock device in your car for up to a year. A conviction can also affect many other aspects of your life. You may lose your driving privileges, have trouble securing employment or face housing application restrictions.
Facing such serious charges can be stressful. However, understanding Pennsylvania law can help ease some stress and can help you build an adequate defense.