While Pennsylvania law does not specifically charge an arrestee with an aggravated DUI, there are specific circumstances which can result in enhanced charges. Keep in mind, Pennsylvania has three levels of DUI charges, each of them a misdemeanor and all with specific fines, potential jail time, loss of driving privileges and the potential for forcing a driver to use an ignition interlock device when their right to drive is restored. In addition, Pennsylvania has a 10 year look-back period on all drunk driving convictions. Some of the situations that can result in enhanced punishment due to being considered an “aggravated” DUI include:
- Children in the vehicle – If a driver has children under the age of 14 in their vehicle angd they are charged with drunk driving, they may face an enhanced charge. For example, if the driver would face a charge under General Impairment (.08 to .099% BAC) the charges may be enhanced to the same charges a driver who was charged under High BAC would face.
- Accident with injuries – Drivers who are involved in a collision and are charged with drunk driving as a result could be charged with an aggravated DUI particularly if someone other than the driver was injured as a result of the accident. Pennsylvania law would nearly always result in charges under the High BAC penalties regardless of how low your BAC is at the time of the accident.
- Driving with a revoked license – Some drivers may lose their license for up to one year after a first drunk driving charge. If they are stopped for drunk driving while they are operating on a suspended revoked license, they may be charged with an aggravated DUI as well as more serious penalties.
- Traveling at high speeds – Those who are charged with a DUI and also traveling faster than the speed limit or faster than is safe for road conditions could face enhanced charges resulting in steeper fines and increased insurance costs.
- Multiple DUI convictions – At the discretion of the prosecutor, drivers who have been arrested for a subsequent DUI could potentially face charges under the “higher” level even if their BAC falls under the lower charges.
- Refusing breathalyzer tests – Under Pennsylvania law, you could face enhanced charges if you have refused a breathalyzer test. Pennsylvania drivers agree to “implied consent” when they get their driver’s license.
- Certain drivers – Drivers who are under the age of 21, commercial truck drivers and school bus operators will nearly always face aggravated DUI charges under Pennsylvania laws. These driver also face lower blood-alcohol levels; drivers under 21 must have a BAC lower than .02, truck drivers BAC cannot be higher than .04 and school bus drivers must not have a BAC over .02.
Fighting Aggravated DUI Charges
Drivers who are facing any charges of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs should contact a criminal defense attorney who understands the laws in Pennsylvania. While you may have a BAC that exceeds the legal limits, oftentimes, we can fight your charges by demonstrating these tests can be inaccurate. Just because you are charged with a DUI does not mean you will be convicted.
The Ten-Year Look Back Period
Pennsylvania laws allow prosecutors, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and your insurance company to review the prior ten year period when assessing charges for DUI, deciding on license suspensions and when setting your insurance rates. While the DOT will expunge your driving record after 10 years, you may still have a criminal charge if you have been previously convicted. In some cases, Pennsylvania’s Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program can help you have your criminal record expunged after ten years. However, if your arrest and subsequent conviction had aggravating conditions like injury, a child in the car or a second DUI arrest, this may not be an option.
The penalties for a DUI in Pennsylvania are very serious even when there are no aggravating conditions. Any driver who is stopped and charged with drunk driving should contact a criminal defense attorney who understands the laws as they apply to drunk driving. Working with the right attorney, it may be possible to have the charges reduced or dismissed depending on the severity of the charge.