Consequences of a DUI/DWI in Pennsylvania

A DUI can mean much more than jail time and heavy fines. What happens to your future after a DUI conviction?

If you have been arrested for a DUI in Pennsylvania, you are probably already aware of the serious penalties you face if you are found guilty; jail time, fines, loss of license, and a misdemeanor on your permanent record.

However, a guilty verdict in a DUI case can often bring about many additional, indirect consequences that can have a long-lasting impact on your life.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance is a very serious offense in Pennsylvania. Prosecutors will generally seek the harshest punishment available to deter drivers from being a repeat offender.

A DUI charge is NOT a conviction.

Seeking the help of an experienced and knowledgeable Pittsburgh DUI attorney can make all the difference. Having an aggressive attorney represent your best interest is invaluable—especially when the consequences have the ability to cause problems far into the future.

There are options available to contest or fight a DUI in court, especially for first time DUI / DWI offenders, like the ARD Program. Know your options so you can understand what you are up against.

A DUI lawyer can help you to fight to retain your license or have your charges reduced or dismissed.

Our number one goal: Your DUI charges reduced or dismissed.

Call Ketchel Law today: 412-456-1221 for a free consultation.

Standard Penalties for a DUI Conviction in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, Blood Alcohol Content, or BAC, is what determines your punishment when being sentenced for a DUI.

The impairment levels are set up in a three tier system:

  • Lowest level: BAC .08—.099;
  • Mid-level: BAC .10—.159, and;
  • Highest level: BAC .16 and higher.

In addition, the court will consider if this is a first offense or you have multiple DUI offenses. The more DUI offenses on your record, the more harsh the punishment. For a first time DUI in PA at the lowest level tier you can expect the punishment to include:

Lowest Level Tier: BAC .08 to .099

  • First Time DUI Offense in PA:
    • Misdemeanor conviction
    • Six months mandatory minimum probation
    • $300 fine
    • Attend Alcohol Highway Safety School
    • Mandatory Treatment

For more information on DUI penalties see The Penalties for a DUI Conviction in PA

Long-Lasting Consequences of a DUI Conviction in PA

The punishment for a DUI is often enough to throw your life into turmoil. However, there are many consequences that people do not consider beyond those issued by the court, such as:

Increased Auto Insurance Premiums

Once you have a DUI on your record, your auto insurance company immediately identifies you as a high risk. As a result, your insurance premiums will be increased significantly—if you can obtain insurance at all.

Your insurance provider may decide to drop you from the policy altogether. This is a very real financial consequence for people who have been found guilty of a DUI.

Alcohol Highway Safety School Attendance

Attending a class related to alcohol safety may not seem like a terribly invasive consequence. However, the class is not offered at your convenience. Therefore, mandatory attendance in the class can become a big problem when it begins to interfere with work, school, or family obligations.

In addition, if you lost your license, you have the additional problem of finding transportation to and from the class.

Losing Your Job/Loss of Employment Opportunities 

For any number of reasons, a DUI can negatively impact your current employment. If you are sentenced to jail time, your employer may decide to terminate your employment and seek a replacement. Perhaps with a loss of license, you will have trouble with transportation to and from work, thus making you consistently late or unable to show up. This is definite grounds for termination at most jobs.

In some cases, a valid drivers license is a requirement for employment. Loss of your license or too many points on your license can also be grounds for termination.

Difficulty Obtaining Employment

Once you are found guilty of a DUI, you will have a misdemeanor on your permanent criminal record. If an employer does a background check, they will see that you have a criminal record. This can be enough to deter them from hiring you when presented with other candidates that have a clean record.

Difficulty Gaining Admission to a University or College

If you are in the process of applying for admission to college and they discover that you have a DUI on your record, they may opt to not give you a spot when competing students have a clean record.

Schools seek top candidates and want students who will represent the school well in the future. A criminal record may be enough to deter them from offering you admittance.

In addition, you may not be eligible for financial aid for college if you have a criminal record, or your interest rate will be higher than someone with a clean record.

School Suspension and/or Loss of school scholarship

Almost all schools have a code of conduct that students are expected to follow. If you are arrested and convicted of a DUI, you may face consequences at school—beyond those handed out by the court. One major consequence can be a loss of any scholarships you may be receiving.

If you receive an Underage DUI in PA, the consequences and penalties you face may be different and more costly in a juvenile court system.

Loss of License (CDL or Professional)

Many professions that are overseen by a licensing board have standards that members are expected to strictly follow. In many cases, loss of your professional license can mean the end of your career. Some of these include attorneys, doctors, nurses, teachers, and accountants.

This is especially true for those whose are charged with DUI on a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). A DUI can certainly end a driver’s career.

Stress on Personal Relationships

Beyond those consequences that affect you financially or professionally, there are those that will ultimately affect you personally. If you face jail time it could affect your loved ones with you being away. Financial trouble puts a strain on the entire family—so loss of employment or payment of heavy fines can cause added stress.

Relying on family members for transportation can be challenging on everyone as well. Many people get caught up in the obvious consequences of a DUI, however, these added relationship stressors can sometimes have a greater impact than all the rest.

Many people only consider the immediate impact a DUI conviction will have. When you take all of these residual consequences into consideration, it becomes clear that this can and will negatively impact your life for some time to come. It is always best to seek the counsel of a professional who can help you protect your future.

An arrest for a DUI is not a conviction.

A DUI defense attorney will be able to present you with your options and work to get your charges dismissed or reduced.

Because the laws are complicated and the penalties can vary, you absolutely must speak with a DUI attorney who understands how the system works— call Justin Ketchel for a free legal consultation.

Our number one goal: Your DUI charges reduced or dismissed.

Call Ketchel Law today: 412-456-1221 for a free consultation.

How a Pittsburgh DUI Lawyer Can Help

At Ketchel Law, our greatest strength lies in critically analyzing and dissecting the details of a police officer’s report looking for weaknesses, neutralizing the police officer’s testimony and questioning the testimony of any experts regarding blood or breath testing.

Sometimes the arresting officer does not have reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle or probable cause to justify your arrest. If this is the case, we can work to suppress the evidence and gain a dismissal of the DUI charge.

When a full dismissal is not possible, we strive to negotiate an alternative to jail time (home detention, alternative housing, or work release) or have the charges reduced.

For first-time DUI offenders, we negotiate for placement in the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. And, when an alternative resolution is not possible, we represent DUI clients at trial.

Our experience and knowledge, along with our strong persuasive skills, allows us to provide you with the best possible defense.

Call the law offices of Justin J. Ketchel at 412-456-1221 for a free legal consultation. We take your case seriously and are committed to providing quality legal advice.

Learn More About DUI Laws in Pennsylvania: