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DUI Sentencing Alternatives in Pennsylvania

DUI Sentencing AlternativesDUI Sentencing Alternatives: Sentencing Standards

The state of Pennsylvania takes drunk driving very seriously and has a set of very aggressive DUI laws to prove it. Pennsylvania has adopted a three-tier DUI penalty system that punishes drivers with mandatory sentences based on the amount of alcohol in their system at the time of arrest and the number of prior DUI convictions they have had in the last 10 years.

The Three Tiers Of Alcohol Levels In Pennsylvania Are:

  • General impairment DUI (.08 to .099% BAC)
  • High BAC DUI (.10 to .159% BAC)
  • Highest BAC DUI (.16% and higher BAC)-(Also driving under Drug Influence or for refusing Alcohol Testing)

DUI Sentencing Alternatives: First Time DUI Offenders

If you are convicted first offense you could potentially face imprisonment up to 3 days. You could also receive a drivers license suspension of 1 year.

However, you may be qualified for the ARD Program (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition). If you are eligible and admitted into this DUI sentencing alternatives program, you will not have to serve any jail time. Your drivers license suspension will be for 30 days or 60 days (90 days for a minor), but NOT for 1 year. Consult with an attorney to see if you qualify for the ARD program or other DUI sentencing alternatives.


Blood Alcohol Levels (B.A.C.) License Suspension Fines Jail
B.A.C. 0.08%-0.099% None for True First Offense $300 6 mos. probation
B.A.C. 0.1%-0.159% 12 month suspension $500 48 hours
B.A.C. 0.16% and above 12 month suspension $1000 72 hours

Do You Need a Lawyer for a First Offense?

Get the best of both worlds and schedule an ARD Review with Joyce & Bittner for a fraction of the cost of representation in court.

DUI Sentencing Alternatives: Second DUI Offense

A second DUI in 10 years can result in significant and UNEXPECTED penalties. Most people don’t realize that a conviction for a second drunk driving offense carries a jail sentence of at least 30 to 90 days, depending on your Blood-Alcohol result. Keep in mind that is the LEAST amount of time you can be sentenced to. It could be more! A second DUI conviction also carries a drivers license suspension minimum of a 1 year, and it could be up to 18 months.

Finally, a second conviction also carries a fine of up to $5000.00. If you are charged with a second DUI offense you have some serious legal problems that can effect you and your driving privileges for years to come.

Blood Alcohol Levels (B.A.C.) License Suspension Fines Jail
B.A.C. 0.08%-0.099% 12 month suspension $300 5 days
B.A.C. 0.1%-0.159% 12 months $1500 30 days
B.A.C. 0.16% and above 18 month suspension $5000 90 days

Do You Need a Lawyer for a Second Offense?

You need representation by a law firm that has the knowledge and experience in this matter. If you are facing jail time and fines, give yourself a chance to reduce them. You need to contact Joyce & Bittner for a FREE Evaluation of your case.

DUI Sentencing Alternatives: Third and Subsequent DUI Offenses

A third or subsequent DUI conviction in 10 years carries a jail term of at LEAST 90 days and could result in a 1 year mandatory minimum sentence in a state prison.

A third DUI conviction in 5 years results in your driving privilege being Revoked for 5 years. It also carries a fine of up to $10,000.00.

Do You Need a Lawyer for a Third or Subsequent Offense?

Any criminal offense that could result in a prison sentence of at least 1 year is seriously risky, extremely complicated and requires skilled and experience representation. Representation needs to begin immediately after the arrest and well in advance of the preliminary hearing in order to provide the best chance at DUI sentencing alternatives to jail time.

DUI Sentencing Alternatives: ARD and Other Alternatives

In some cases, DUI offenders may be able to secure one of the DUI sentencing alternatives to what otherwise may be a period of incarceration in jail under Pennsylvania’s DUI laws. The availability of these DUI sentencing alternatives will be dependent on a number of factors, including the number of previous DUI convictions, the circumstances of the arrest, the prosecutor bringing the charges and the judge hearing the case. While it can be easier to secure an alternative sentence for first time offenders, sometimes they also may be available to those receiving a subsequent DUI conviction.

Some of the DUI sentencing alternatives available in Pennsylvania include:

  • Accelerated rehabilitative disposition (ARD): ARD is a pretrial diversion that is generally only available to first time, non-violent offenders. Thus, it is an option often available in first DUI prosecutions. The prosecutor has the discretion on whether or not an individual will be referred for participation in ARD. If chosen to participate, then the offender’s prosecution is deferred while he or she participates in the program. The program may include several different requirements, including alcohol treatment, community service and safe driving classes. For ARD in DUI cases of the high and highest BAC levels, there is a required period of drivers license suspension of 30 or 60 days respectively. Successful completion of the program results in a dismissal of the criminal charges. He or she also may be able to have the DUI arrest expunged from their criminal record by virtue of completing the program and having the charges dismissed.
  • House arrest and electronic monitoring: those who are not eligible for ARD may be able to complete their jail time at home. In some cases, DUI offenders may be sentenced to house arrest as an alternative to jail. To make sure that those on house arrest remain at home when they are supposed to be, they usually are required to wear an electronic monitoring device on their ankles. This device communicates with a receiver connected to a telephone line in the offender’s home. The county probation office programs the device with the range of times that the offender is required to remain in the home. If the offender leaves the home during these times, the probation office will be notified by the device calling in an alert. Some Pennsylvania counties have a waiting list to get an electronic monitoring device. For example, in Allegheny County, there is a waiting list that can stretch into months. Some other counties, however, do not have waiting lists.
  • Triple R-I program: the Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive Program is a way of those who have been sentenced to a year or more in jail to reduce the amount of time they have to remain incarcerated. The program only is open to non-violent offenders who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Additionally, there has to be sufficient evidence that their addiction was a prime motivating factor in the commission of the crime. Offenders in the Triple R-I program must participate in prison treatment programs and maintain good behavior. Those who successfully complete the program can be paroled before the expiration of the original minimum sentence under a formula determined by the RRRI law. Prisoners otherwise can only apply for parole at the expiration of their minimum sentence.

Other DUI sentencing alternatives include:

  • Probation (for some first offenders)
  • Community service
  • Living at a half-way house
  • Enrollment in an in-patient alcohol and substance abuse treatment program

If you have been arrested for your first, second or greater DUI offense, it is important to have an experienced DUI defense attorney help you defend against the charges. Depending on the circumstances of your case,DUI sentencing alternatives to jail time may be available. These options can help you minimize the impact of a DUI conviction on your daily life. For more information, contact an experienced DUI lawyer today.

To learn more about our DUI defense and DUI sentencing alternatives,

call 412-281-9919 or 1-800-299-5530 right now.

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