Under Pennsylvania law, an arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) exposes you to potentially harsh penalties. The punishment increases for certain aggravating factors, such as prior DUI offenses, excess intoxication or a DUI-related accident.
The attorneys of Bentley, Kopecki, Smith, P.C., are well-versed in Pennsylvania DUI grading and sentencing laws. But rather than simply pleading you guilty, we use our knowledge to fight a conviction, reduce the charges or minimize the criminal penalties and collateral impact. With three office locations, our skilled defense lawyers represent anyone facing DUI charges in Berks County or Lebanon County. We represent many first-time offenders who have never had any encounters with the criminal justice system, as well as repeat offenders who are facing mandatory jail time and other severe consequences.
Pennsylvania’s Three-Tier DUI Grading System
Charges of driving under the influence (DUI) fall under three categories of increasing severity:
- Tier 1 — BAC (blood alcohol content) of .08 percent or greater (per se DUI) or other evidence of being “incapable of driving safely.” These offenses do not automatically carry jail time or license suspension (on a first offense), but are subject to mandatory probation, fines, community service, safety school, and a drug and alcohol assessment. Subsequent offenses trigger mandatory jail, loss of license and ignition interlock.
- Tier 2 — BAC of .10 to .15 percent; accident resulting in damage or injury; or DUI involving a minor driver (under age 21), a driver of a commercial vehicle or driver of a school vehicle. A first offense carries mandatory jail time, license suspension of 12 months, major fines and other penalties listed above. Subsequent offenses carry serious jail or prison time and other enhanced penalties.
- Tier 3 — BAC of .16 or higher, driving under the influence of controlled substances (recreational drugs or prescription narcotics), or DUI with an implied consent violation (breath test refusal). The penalties rise dramatically for repeat offenses, including a possible prison term. While the statutory range of penalties is similar to Tier 2, these offenses are more likely to be punished at the higher end of the sentencing grid.
Many people do not take a first-offense DUI seriously, considering it a traffic violation. However, jail is always a real possibility in any DUI case, and a conviction can also impact your family life, your finances and your future educational or employment opportunities. On a second or subsequent offense within 10 years of the first, the punishment includes mandatory minimum jail time. Because of the immediate and long-term consequences, it is critical to contact an attorney as early as possible, even for a first-time DUI.
Committed To Minimizing DUI Penalties
We are not here to quickly dispose of your case; we are here to help you deal with the allegations and prevent or mitigate life-altering consequences. Our attorneys are prepared to defend you before a jury when necessary, but we are also knowledgeable about programs such as accelerated rehabilitative disposition (ARD) and other sentencing alternatives that may help avoid a trial and the harshest DUI penalties.
The facts are different in every DUI case, and the available programs differ from county to county. Our attorneys have a good rapport with the local prosecutors and judges, and we know how to position you for the most favorable outcome, in negotiations or in court.
Call our defense attorneys at 610-685-8000 or (toll free) 888-320-7928, or contact us online to schedule your free 30-minute initial consultation. We can discuss your case at our office in Reading or Lebanon, or we can come to you at the jail.