Important to Know: Penalties Up for Multiple DUI Convictions
As you see the lights and sirens behind you, you can’t imagine your bad luck. It’s only been a few months since you finally reinstated your driver’s license after it was suspended for driving under the influence. Meanwhile, an old sports saying runs through your mind. “Three strikes you’re out.” If you’re convicted of driving while intoxicated, you’re sure it won’t ultimately be pretty. In fact, you’re a bit worried about the penalties for multiple DUI convictions.
The date of your arrest is critical in determining how the court may punish you for driving under the influence. And, if you’re facing charges from the first of 2019 on – the penalties just got steeper.
Unlike some jurisdictions, Pennsylvania actually differentiates between different levels of intoxication as described in 75 PA Cons Stat § 3802:
- Sufficient Amount of Alcohol: The blood alcohol content (BAC) is between .08% and .10%. Meanwhile, the reading must be taken within two hours after the driver got behind the wheel.
- High Rate of Alcohol: BAC is over .10% but less than .16% under the same conditions stated above.
- Highest Rate of Alcohol: Blood alcohol reading taken within two hours of individual driving, operating or taking charge of the motor vehicle. BAC is over .16%
Notably, the three classifications are critical when determining DUI sentencing standards. In fact, they are also relevant in the new 2019 new DUI laws in Pennsylvania.
New DUI Laws in Pennsylvania
The legislature passed amendments to old DUI laws at the end of 2018, which became effective a couple of weeks. Here are the changes that are important to know;
- Grading: Old laws assign steeper penalties for those convicted of driving under the influence. Previously, the law didn’t differentiate as far as the number of multiple offenses. Drivers with multiple charges all faced convictions for multiple DUI incidents.
Under new laws, additional grading criteria call for those found guilty of three prior offenses to face penalties for committing a third-degree felony.
- DUI-involved Homicide: Previously convicted of DUI? If your subsequent offense involved someone’s death, you faced three years in jail. That number changes to five years in 2019. Meanwhile, the third finding of guilt could mean you wind up behind bars for up to seven years.
- Sentencing: in 2019, sentencing guideline for DUI convictions change substantially. In the past, Pennsylvania was one of the few states that did not consider driving under the influence as a felony offense. Now, a three-time convicted offender whose blood alcohol exceeds .16% faces felony penalties.
In the meantime, the laws also became stricter for individuals who still get behind the wheel – even though their licenses are suspended for DUI charges.
DUI convictions come with serious penalties and are often defensible. At Mazzoni Valvano Szewczyk & Karam, our office knows how driving while under the influence charges can impact you. Give us a call to schedule an appointment to see how we can assist you.