Pennsylvania’s Three-Tiered DUI Charge System

Like every state, Pennsylvania prohibits the operation of motorized vehicles by drivers who are under the influence of alcohol. Harsh punishments await those who fail to abide by the relevant laws and put others at risk with their irresponsible behavior. As those who seek additional information online will see, there are a number of possible DUI charges in Pennsylvania, and they are not always chosen appropriately.

Drivers Can be Charged With DUI in at Least Three Ways

A driver who has one too many drinks at dinner could well pose a serious danger to others on the roads. On the other hand, someone who indulges to the point of complete incoherence would almost certainly be even more of a threat.

Pennsylvania’s lawmakers have sought to acknowledge such realities while still firmly prohibiting impaired driving in general. As a result, there are a number of DUI charges that can be leveled against drivers, with each corresponding to a certain class of offenses:

  • General impairment. Most adults should be metabolically capable of savoring an alcoholic beverage and then driving some time thereafter without falling afoul of Pennsylvania’s laws. Go anywhere beyond that fuzzy line, though, and impairment will almost certainly become an issue. Charges of DUI that correspond to a general state of impairment can result in serious punishments but are most often classified as misdemeanors.
  • Significant impairment. When a driver’s blood alcohol is such that mere tipsiness has been left far behind, DUI charges will normally be upgraded to the level of a third-degree felony. Drivers who are significantly impaired by alcohol in their systems can be dozens of times more likely than sober ones to become involved in accidents.
  • Aggravated impairment. At the far end of the scale, drivers who have consumed so much alcohol that they are in danger of lapsing into unconsciousness become subject to the most serious charges and severe punishments.

Getting in Touch With an Attorney Can Make a Real Difference

Although there are three distinct, progressively more serious levels of DUI charges in Pennsylvania, the lines between them are not as well defined as they might seem. A lawyer will always be well positioned to ensure that a client does not face unjustified DUI charges.