DUI FAQs

DUI FAQs in Pennsylvania

I recently received a DUI - will I lose my license?

Whether or not you lose your license following a DUI conviction in Pennsylvania depends on many circumstances, such as your blood alcohol content (BAC), whether this was your first conviction or if you are repeat offender, and whether or not there was an accident involved. If your license is in danger of being suspended because of a possible DUI conviction, the length of the suspension will also depend on the above factors.

Under limited circumstances, it is possible to be convicted of a DUI in Pennsylvania and not lose your license. If this is your first offense and you had a BAC of .099% or lower and you did not have an accident, you will not lose your license.

What is the jail time for a DUI in Pennsylvania?

Again, whether or not you face jail time following a DUI conviction depends on many factors including your BAC and how many prior offenses you have. Jail time for DUI offenses ranges from none at all to almost a year or even more for repeat offenders.

Why do I need a lawyer to help with my DUI?

A DUI is a serious crime. Not only can a conviction result in fines, license suspension, and jail time, it will also remain on your record and affect your ability to find a job and even own a firearm. An attorney will help fight your charges and they can also assist in plea negotiations with reduced penalties or help you get into a diversionary program, such as the ARD program. Additionally, if you are initially rejected from a program such as ARD, an attorney can negotiate with the proper individuals to help you gain entry.

Can I get a "bread and butter" license if I lose my driving privileges following a DUI conviction?

An "occupational limited license" (OLL), or a "bread and butter" license as it is sometimes called, is available to some DUI offenders. If this is your first DUI offense and you have been given a one-year license suspension, you may be eligible for an OLL but only after you have served 60 days of your license suspension. Individuals whose licenses are suspended for 18 months and have no more than one prior offense may be eligible for an OLL with an ignition interlock after serving 12 months of their suspension. Those who participate in the ARD program are not eligible for an OLL. One must request an OLL, they are not automatically granted.

How will it affect my sentencing if I refused to submit to a blood or alcohol test?

Refusing to submit to chemical testing when pulled over for a suspected DUI is not advisable unless you have some compelling reason for doing so. If you refuse to participate in chemical testing, you can lose your license for an additional one year on top of your suspension for the actual DUI charge. Even if you are found not guilty of the DUI offense, you can still lose your license for a year just for refusing the chemical testing.

Additionally, refusing chemical testing does not mean that you cannot be convicted of a DUI offense. There are many other ways of proving the crime other than chemical testing like field sobriety tests.

What is an ignition interlock?

Under Pennsylvania law, an individual convicted of a second or subsequent DUI offense is required to have an ignition interlock system installed on each vehicle they own, operate, and even lease. An ignition interlock is a device that is installed on motor vehicles to prohibit individuals who have been drinking from driving the vehicle. Individuals must blow into the device before starting the vehicle. If the system detects alcohol, the vehicle will be prevented from starting. In addition, at periodic times during operation of the vehicle, the driver will be prompted to blow into the device to ensure they have not been drinking since starting the vehicle. The cost of the system averages $1,000 and the DUI offender bears all costs associated with installation of the system.

What is the ARD program?

ARD stands for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition and is primarily reserved for first-time DUI offenders, as well as those first time offenders charged with theft and simple assault. It is offered in most counties in southwestern Pennsylvania. ARD provides a diversionary program that can keep you out of jail, prevent a one-year license suspension, and avoid a DUI conviction that will show up on your record for years to come. Successful completion of the ARD program generally involves probation, payment of reduced costs and fines, completion of alcohol safety school, and a period of license suspension. Most importantly, your record can be expunged.

Who qualifies for the ARD program?

Several requirements must be met for an individual to qualify for ARD. An applicant must not have a DUI conviction or participation in an ARD program within a 10-year period prior to the current DUI offense. The accused must not have been transporting a child under the age of 14 and if there was an accident, it must not have resulted in serious injury or death to any individual. The district attorney must approve an applicant's entry into the program. It is very important to have an attorney guide you through the ARD process. Many times, applicants who are initially denied admission to the program are admitted after their attorney negotiates entry for them.

What happens if I am admitted but do not complete the ARD program?

Failure to complete the program, such as not paying required fines, failing to attend the required treatment programs or classes, or violating your probation in any way, may cause your ARD privileges to be revoked. If your ARD status is revoked, you will be sent back to stand trial for your charges and you will be exposed to all the statutory fines, penalties, and jail time associated with your charges.