If you’ve recently been arrested for your first DUI, your life may be about to change. If you are found guilty of DUI, those changes could come in the form of fines of hundreds and even thousands of dollars, a suspended license (meaning you won’t be able to drive) and possibly even time behind bars. The whole idea of being charged with a crime and what might happen next can be confusing and scary. So over the next few paragraphs, we’ll explain, in plain language, what those consequences might be.
A first offense in Adams County is still a very big deal. DUI cases are aggressively prosecuted here and all across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the fact that this is your first offense does not guarantee that the state will go easy on you. In fact, if you are convicted, your life really will never be the same. Because a DUI conviction goes on your so-called “permanent record.” That means that if anyone, for any reason, wants to know if you have a criminal record – whether it’s someone at that great new company you’re trying to get a job from, or the bank you want to get a home loan from, or even the nosy neighbor who doesn’t like you – they can find out that you have a DUI.
Meaning that a DUI conviction is forever.
Of course, the punishments will start pretty much right away. The immediate consequences you face will be based the results of the breath or blood test the police gave you to determine your B.A.C., which stands for Blood Alcohol Concentration. The number from the test represents exactly how much alcohol was in your bloodstream when you were arrested. A higher number means a higher amount of alcohol, and that means higher penalties. People who refuse a blood or breath test are always charged in the “Highest Impairment” category and, if they are convicted, are subject to the highest penalties allowed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
General Impairment is the lowest category, for people whose B.A.C. measures from.08 to .099%. There also cannot be any property damage or injury involved, and the driver must be at least 21 years old. Conviction in this category will lead to first offense penalties that will include six months’ probation or less and a $300 fine.
High Impairment is the next category up, for people whose B.A.C. measures between .10 and 0.159%. If your B.A.C. is lower but you were also in an accident or caused an injury to someone else, or if you are underage, you will also be charged in the High Impairment category. School Bus Drivers with a B.A.C. between 0.02% and .195% are charged in the High Impairment category, as are commercial vehicle drivers with a B.A.C. that falls between .04 and 0.159%.
Conviction in a High Impairment category means, as you might guess, higher penalties than in the General Impairment category, regardless of whether or not this is your first offense. You’ll be sentenced to prison for two days to six months, loses your license for a year and be fined from $500 to $5,000.
A B.A.C. at the level of at least .16% puts you in the Highest Impairment category. This is also the category where you will be charged if you are accused of a DUI involving drugs or if you told the police officer who arrested you that you would not take a chemical test.
If you are convicted of DUI in the highest impairment category, that means the highest penalties are going to apply. It starts with at least three days – and possibly as much as six months – in prison. Plus you’ll lose your license for 12 months and pay anywhere from $1000 to $5000 in fines.
Obviously, even if it’s your very first offense, a DUI conviction in Adams County, or anywhere in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, can have very serious consequences. If you were recently pulled over for your first offense, you might think your life, at least as you know it, is over. However, you are not alone out there. By hiring an experienced, aggressive attorney who specializes in DUI, you give yourself a chance to fight back. Just remember, not any lawyer will do. Even if it’s your first offense, you want a lawyer who has been there before and knows exactly how to put the law on your side.
If you’re facing your first DUI charge, don’t go it alone. Contact the specialized DUI lawyers of The McShane Firm today. They’ll help you protect your rights at this very important time.