Pennsylvania has three categories of DUIs: General Impairment, High Rate and Highest Rate. General Impairment is when your BAC is between .08 and .10. High Rate is between .10 and .159, and Highest rate is above .159. When you refuse to take a chemical test, the judicial system automatically charges you with General Impairment but with penalties of the Highest Rate.
DUI classes are mandatory on your first and second offense of drunk driving. The classes take about 13 hours and teach you about how alcohol affects your judgment. A DUI class will cost around $200. If you miss a class, the instructors report this to the court or your probation officer. Some DUI classes could last as long as 36 hours of instruction time.
Probation is a possible consequence even on your first offense of drunk driving. For a first offense, the court could sentence you up to six months of probation.
A $300 fine is mandatory for your first offense of a general impairment DUI in Pennsylvania. If you have a High Rate first-offense DUI, the mandatory fine is $500, but it could be up to $5,000. The mandatory fine for a High Rate first-offense DUI is $1,000 and could be up to $5,000. Second and third offenses also come with mandatory fines.
As long as your first offense is general impairment, there isn’t a mandatory jail-time punishment. For a high DUI, the required minimum jail time is 48 hours. The highest rate DUI requires 72 hours. The second and third offenses have longer mandatory jail-time penalties. At minimum, you will spend five days in jail on a second offense at the general impairment level. However, the court could sentence you up to six months. The minimum required jail time for a high second offense is 30 days, and the minimum for a highest-rate second offense is 90 days.
Some counties in Pennsylvania offer house arrest instead of jail time for second-time offenders. However, they may still require that you serve part of your sentence in jail.
The penalties for a DUI in Pennsylvania become more severe for each offense. A higher BAC also increases the severity of the consequences.