In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, law enforcement can charge you with driving under the influence (DUI) for operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Law enforcement categorizes most DUI convictions as misdemeanor criminal offenses. However, certain aggravating factors can upgrade a DUI to a felony. For more information on when a DUI is a felony in Pennsylvania, please read on, then contact an experienced Allegheny County DUI lawyer as soon as possible. The following circumstances might lead to a felony DUI charge in Pennsylvania:
First, second and third DUIs are generally misdemeanors in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. However, the current offense will be a second-degree felony if the driver has three or more prior DUI convictions within the past ten years.
Naturally, the jail time, fines and other penalties will depend on the specific circumstances of the offense. Nonetheless, as a second-degree felony, defendants face the following penalties upon conviction:
- Between five and 10 years in prison
- A fine of up to $25,000
A third DUI becomes a third-degree felony if:
- The offender refused a chemical test in violation of the state’s implied consent laws
- The offense involved a blood alcohol concentration of 0.16 percent or higher
- The offense involved at least one passenger under the age of eighteen, or
- The offender was under the influence of a controlled substance
As a third-degree felony, defendants face the following penalties upon conviction:
- Between three-and-a-half and seven years in prison
- A fine of up to $15,000
In Pennsylvania, DUIs involving serious injuries to another person constitute second-degree felonies. Convictions carry up to ten years in prison and a maximum of $25,000 in fines. Causing the death of another person while driving under the influence constitutes “homicide-by-vehicle,” a second-degree felony. Convicted motorists face between five to ten years in prison and a maximum of $25,000 in fines.
Regardless of the degree of a felony conviction, felons will discover that it is much more difficult to find a job, join the military, find a place to live and enter certain professions.
Felonies carry repercussions that extend beyond the criminal justice system. Even after you have served your time in jail and paid any fines, you will have limitations on your freedoms for years to come. If you have sustained a conviction for a felony, you may have restrictions on:
- Running for public office
- Voting, while serving time in prison
- Serving on a jury
- Obtaining college financial aid
- Getting government benefits
- The ability to purchase and/or possess firearms
Given the stakes you face, you should speak with George A. Heym, Esq. today.
If you are facing a DUI charge, contact The Law Offices of George Heym to schedule your free initial consultation.