Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Lawyers

What Happens if You Get a 2nd DUI in Pennsylvania?

Being charged with a second DUI can feel frightening and humiliating, and law enforcement and prosecutors are far less likely to show any leniency. A lawyer can help you through this process and hopefully minimize the penalties and consequences.

The potential penalties for a second DUI can be severe and often depend on various factors surrounding your case. The rate of alcohol involved and whether other offenses are implicated are big contributing factors to your possible penalties. If your first DUI was over 10 years ago, it should not count against you as it exceeds the state’s look-back period for DUI charges. Jail time is possible for a second DUI, but an attorney can help you hopefully avoid spending significant time behind bars. Challenging the prior DUI, evidence, and protocols involved in your DUI stop are good places to begin your defense.

Call (215) 372-8667 to schedule a free case review with our DUI defense attorneys at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates.

Potential Penalties for a Second DUI Conviction in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, penalties for DUIs are significantly influenced by the driver’s alleged degree of impairment. The higher a driver’s Bac, the greater their penalties might be. In many cases, a second DIU conviction will be punished more harshly than a first offense. Penalties also apply in cases where a driver allegedly has controlled substances in their system rather than just alcohol.

General Impairment

General impairment may be assessed in two ways. First, it may refer to drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least .08%  but still less than .10%. Second, it may refer to drivers whose BACs were not measured or were less than .08%, but the driver is visibly intoxicated, and law enforcement officials do not believe the driver can operate the vehicle safely. Contrary to popular belief, you do not necessarily have to have a minimum BAC of .08 to be charged with a DUI as long as you are sufficiently intoxicated and unable to drive safely.

Penalties for DUI offenses are contained under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3804. Penalties for a driver charged with a second offense for general impairment might be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor. Such an offense may be penalized with no less than 5 days in jail, a fine of at least $300 but not more than $2,500, and drug and alcohol courses and treatment.

High Rate of Alcohol

A high rate of alcohol may be assessed if a driver has a BAC of at least .10% but still less than .16%. Your BAC must be measured to be this high within 2 hours of when you allegedly had physical control over or operated a vehicle. Unlike general impairment, your BAC must be accurately measured to be charged with a high rate of alcohol.

If you are charged with a second DUI for a high rate of alcohol, you may face penalties, including jail time of at least 30 days and a fine of no less than $750 and not more than $5,000. You might also be ordered to undergo drug and alcohol education and treatment.

Highest Rate of Alcohol and Controlled Substances

DUIs for the highest rate of alcohol may include very harsh penalties, especially for those facing their second DUI. Under the law, to be charged with a highest rate of alcohol DUI, a driver must have a BAC of .16% or higher. Again, this must be a measurable BAC and not based solely on observations made by law enforcement.

Not only are the penalties higher for charges related to the highest rate of alcohol, but they are especially harsh for a second offense. The same penalties apply to those facing DUIs related to controlled substances. You might face at least 90 days in jail in addition to a minimum fine of $1,500. Not only that, but the court could order you to attend drug and alcohol education courses and treatment or counseling.

Other Offenses

Various other charges might surround a second DUI offense. For example, if your first and second DUI offenses involve minor occupants in the vehicle, your second offense might come with increased penalties. You might face an additional fine of at least $2,500 and possible jail time of no less than 1 month.

On top of DUI charges and related offenses, you might face criminal charges for the harm caused if there was an accident and injuries. If an accident involves bodily harm, serious bodily harm, or death, you might face additional jail time and fines.

Can I Be Charged with a Second DUI in Pennsylvania if My First DUI was a Long Time Ago?

For some, their first DUI offense was many years ago, and they wonder if such an old charge could come back to haunt them. The answer to this question depends on how old the first DUI conviction is. In Pennsylvania, prosecutors use a look-back period of 10 years. This means that DUI convictions within the past 10 years are fair game and can be used to upgrade current charges. DUIs older than 10 years are considered too remote.

Many DUI defendants have had their first offenses expunged through the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. In the past, DUIs expunged through ARD were still counted as prior DUIs to assess second, third, or subsequent DUI violations. However, in 2020, in the case of Commonwealth v. Chichkin, the Pennsylvania Superior Court decided that prior DUIs expunged through ARD could not be counted against you.

Essentially, if you have been charged with a second DUI, but the first DUI was expunged through ARD, you should be charged as if your current DUI is your first. Considering how recent this judicial decision is, prosecutors might mistakenly charge defendants according to the old rules. An attorney can help you make sure that remote or expunged DUIs are not used against you.

Call Our Pennsylvania DUI Defense Lawyers for Help Today

Call (215) 372-8667 to schedule a free case evaluation with our DUI defense attorneys at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates.