Frequently Asked DUI Questions

Why do I need a lawyer for my DUI case?
I only had a few drinks when I got pulled over, and I didn't feel drunk. How can I be charged with drunk driving?
How many drinks does it take to reach the legal limit?
I wasn't drinking and I was still charged with a DUI, how?
Can I refuse the breathalyzer test?
What are the different levels of DUI?
Can I choose which chemical test I can take?
When a police officer asks me to follow a penlight what does he look for?
What are the penalties for a DUI?

Why do I need a lawyer for my DUI case?

Asking a friend for legal advice or looking up information on the internet is not a substitute for having a lawyer with years of experience. You need an attorney who knows the law and can protect your rights. Don't leave anything up to chance, it's not worth it. If you're skeptical, feel free to visit us for a free DUI consultation.

I only had a few drinks when I got pulled over, and I didn't feel drunk. How can I be charged with drunk driving?

In Pennsylvania, you can be charged with a DUI if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is above .08. You may be above this legal limit even if you do not feel drunk.

How many drinks does it take to reach the legal limit?

Determining the number of drinks it will take for any individual to reach the .08 BAC limit depends on a number of factors. There are charts and calculators that can be used as a reference, however these do not take into account all variables in the BAC equation. It is safe to say that each drink you consume brings you that much closer to becoming a legally impaired driver.

I wasn't drinking and I was still charged with a DUI, how?

You do not need to be drinking to be charged with a DUI. If you are under the influence of any drugs you can also be charged with a DUI.

Can I refuse the breathalyzer test?

Pennsylvania is what is known as an implied consent state. By having a PA drivers license you are allowing yourself to be tested if an officer suspects you of a DUI. While you can refuse a breathalyzer, you will then need to get a chemical test to determine your BAC. In addition, offenders who refuse breath or chemical testing may be subject to the highest BAC penalties.

What are the different levels of DUI?

There are three different levels of DUI depending on your BAC:

  • General Impairment (.08 to .099% BAC)
  • High BAC (.10 to .159% BAC)
  • Highest BAC (.16% and higher)

Can I choose which chemical test I can take?

NEED ANSWER HERE, PAUL :-) 

When a police officer asks me to follow a penlight what does he look for?

This test is called the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test. Nystagmus is the medical term that describes a particular eye oscillation. The steadiness of the eyes while following the pen and the degree at which the eyes begin to move erratically indicate the level of alcohol in the blood of the suspect. The police officer attempts to determine if the angle of the eyes are less than 45 degrees. An angle of less than 45 generally indicates a blood-alcohol level of .05% or greater.

The horizontal gaze nystagmus test is still fairly new and has not been accepted for use in many states. Many medical professionals do not consider this test to be credible. It is also possible that some police officers performing this test are not qualified to administer the test. The untrained officer may not be able to negotiate the proper angle and hence misjudge nystagmus.

What are the penalties for a DUI?

Please see our DUI Penalties Page or the PA DMV Website for more details regarding this question.

Pennsylvania DUI Penalties

General Impairment Penalties (Undetermined BAC, .08 to .099% BAC) : 1 Prior Offense
General Impairment Penalties (Undetermined BAC, .08 to .099% BAC) : 2 or More Prior Offenses
General Impairment Penalties (Undetermined BAC, .08 to .099% BAC) : No Prior Offenses
High BAC Penalties (.10 to .159% BAC) : 1 Prior Offense
High BAC Penalties (.10 to .159% BAC) : 2 or More Prior Offenses
High BAC Penalties (.10 to .159% BAC) : 3 or More Prior Offenses
High BAC Penalties (.10 to .159% BAC) : No Prior Offenses
Highest BAC penalties (.16% and higher) or Controlled Substance : 1 Prior Offense
Highest BAC penalties (.16% and higher) or Controlled Substance : 2 or More Prior Offenses
Highest BAC penalties (.16% and higher) or Controlled Substance : No Prior Offenses

General Impairment Penalties (Undetermined BAC, .08 to .099% BAC) : 1 Prior Offense

  • Ungraded misdemeanor
  • Twelve-month license suspension
  • Five days to six months in prison
  • $300-$2,500 fine
  • Alcohol Highway Safety School
  • Treatment when ordered
  • One year ignition interlock

General Impairment Penalties (Undetermined BAC, .08 to .099% BAC) : 2 or More Prior Offenses

  • Second-degree misdemeanor
  • Twelve-month license suspension
  • Ten days to two years prison
  • $500-$5,000 fine
  • Treatment when ordered
  • One year ignition interlock

General Impairment Penalties (Undetermined BAC, .08 to .099% BAC) : No Prior Offenses

  • Ungraded misdemeanor
  • Up to six months probation
  • $300 fine
  • Alcohol Highway Safety School
  • Treatment when ordered

High BAC Penalties (.10 to .159% BAC) : 1 Prior Offense

  • Ungraded misdemeanor
  • Twelve-month license suspension
  • Thirty days to six months in prison
  • $750-$5,000 fine
  • Alcohol Highway Safety School
  • Treatment when ordered
  • One year ignition interlock

High BAC Penalties (.10 to .159% BAC) : 2 or More Prior Offenses

  • First-degree misdemeanor
  • Eighteen-month license suspension
  • Ninety days to five years in prison
  • $1,500-$10,000 fine
  • Treatment when ordered
  • One year ignition interlock

High BAC Penalties (.10 to .159% BAC) : 3 or More Prior Offenses

  • First-degree misdemeanor
  • Eighteen-month license suspension
  • One to five years in prison
  • $1,500-$10,000 fine
  • Treatment when ordered
  • One year ignition interlock

High BAC Penalties (.10 to .159% BAC) : No Prior Offenses

  • Ungraded misdemeanor
  • Twelve-month license suspension
  • Forty-eight hours to six months in prison
  • $500-$5,000 fine
  • Alcohol Highway Safety School
  • Treatment when ordered

Highest BAC penalties (.16% and higher) or Controlled Substance : 1 Prior Offense

  • First-degree misdemeanor
  • Eighteen-month license suspension
  • Ninety days to five years in prison
  • $1,500-$10,000 fine
  • Alcohol Highway Safety School
  • Treatment when ordered
  • One year ignition interlock

Highest BAC penalties (.16% and higher) or Controlled Substance : 2 or More Prior Offenses

  • First-degree misdemeanor
  • Eighteen-month license suspension
  • One to five years prison
  • $2,500-$10,000 fine
  • Treatment when ordered
  • One year ignition interlock

Highest BAC penalties (.16% and higher) or Controlled Substance : No Prior Offenses

  • Ungraded misdemeanor
  • Twelve-month license suspension
  • Seventy-two hours to six months in prison
  • $1,000-$5,000 fine
  • Alcohol Highway Safety School
  • Treatment when ordered