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My BAC was higher than .08 -- is that a drunk driving felony?

Allegations of driving under the influence are no small matter, particularly when they involve serious accusations. In Pennsylvania, drunk driving charges are filed as one of three levels. Drivers may be charged with General Impairment, High BAC or Highest BAC. Each has its own requirements for charges, and punishments vary between each.

Drivers charged with General Impairment have a blood/alcohol content between .08 and .099 percent at the time of their arrest. Those with no prior offenses can expect to pay a fine of $300, serve six months of probation, attend highway safety school and potentially undergo alcohol-related treatment. Prior offenses will change the possible consequences. One prior offense could land someone behind jail for up to six months, while two may lead to two years of prison.

High BAC charges stem from BAC results of .10 to .159 percent. These drivers may lose their driving privileges for a year, which can make maintaining employment difficult. Fines are also much steeper for High BACs, and individuals could be on the hook for up to $5,000 in fines. Those who have at least two prior offenses may have to pay $10,000 and spend as long as five years behind bars.

Extremely high BACs that register at or above .16 lead to Highest BAC charges. Drivers without any DUIs on their records can still have to spend six months in jail and fork over as much as $5,000 in fines. A single prior offense may result in loss of driving privileges for 18 months.

A common thread between the three different types of drunk driving charges is the focus on treatment. A charge at any level with any number of prior offenses can always result in a judge ordering alcohol-related treatment alongside other punishments. In some cases, Pennsylvania drivers may be successful in tailoring the focus toward treatment rather than punitive measures, which can help defendants lessen the impact on their futures.

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Erie, PA 16501

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