In this Commonwealth if an adult individual is determined to have a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher, they are legally intoxicated under
the laws of the Commonwealth.
At the time you obtained your driver's license from Pennsylvania you gave consent for the Commonwealth and/or its representatives, namely the local police department, to obtain the necessary tests to determine whether you have the ability to drive. These tests would be either blood, breath or urine or any combination thereof to determine your blood alcohol content, commonly referred to a BAC.
Pennsylvania now has a three level (3) statute. The first level is for those individuals with a BAC
level of .08 to .099. The second level is from a BAC of .10 to .159. The
third level is from .160 BAC and above. Each level has it own mandatory sentences. Each level will require the
1. Attend an Alcohol Highway Safety School;
2. A CRN [court Reporting Network evaluation];
3. Pending CRN, a full assessment and compliance with D&A treatment;
4. A fine [amount varies based on the level]
5. Community Service.
The Legislature has addressed those under the age of 21 who drink and drive. It was determined the legal limit for individuals under the age of 21 is .02% BAC. All of the above relating to fines, jail and other elements of a sentence also apply to the individuals 21 years of age and younger as it relates with DUI with a .02% BAC. Therefore, minors under the age of 21 for whom it is illegal to drink may suffer a greater devastation given the limited ability to consume before you arrive at a .02% BAC. It should be noted that individuals 18 to 21 will be processed like adults under the DUI law and those younger than 18 will be processed through the juvenile court. DUI offenses however are traffic offenses, namely violations of the Motor Vehicle Code and the license suspension will be the same, irrespective of the age.
There are other elements related to DUI that need to be addressed at this point. If during any period of suspension in which the suspension was the result of a DUI conviction or a DUI suspension an individual is found driving with his driving privileges suspended, the Statute requires a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000 and a mandatory minimum jail sentence of ninety (90) days along with an additional one (1) year suspension of the person’s driving privileges.
Lastly the DUI Statute addresses the issue of homicide by vehicle while DUI. In the case where the individual who was driving the vehicle and caused the death of another either as a result of striking another vehicle or as a result of striking a pedestrian and is determine to be driving under the influence there is a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment of not less then three (3) years.
It is important at this point to note that if you refuse to take a chemical, breath, blood or urine test your driving privileges will be automatically suspended for an additional period of one (1) year  irrespective of whether the DUI charge is upheld. This is true for everyone no matter what age thy are.
The process for a DUI charge is appearing before a District Justice for a preliminary hearing or appearing and waiving the preliminary hearing. The second step will be to attend an arraignment or the waiving of the arraignment in the Court of Common Pleas of the appropriate county. The third would be a pre-trial conference before the Judge of the appropriate county and finally either trial or a guilty plea on the charges.
There is also the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program or ARD. This program is an exception to the rule in this matter. The program is run by the local District Attorney’s office and is discretionary with the District Attorney’s office. However there are certain areas that if you have met these elements you will not be eligible for ARD and they are:
1) previously been placed on ARD;
2) been convicted of a DUI within ten years of the date of this offense;
3) have seriously injured or killed someone as a result of the DUI crash;
4) have been charged at the time of the DUI with other serious vehicle violations.
The District Attorney in each county may have additional grounds whereby they will disqualify a individual for ARD. The benefits of ARD is the license suspension can go for anywhere from one to twelve months, generally no jail time, there will be community service that must be served, there will be a period of probation, there will be attendance at the Alcohol Highway Safety School, there will be a CRN evaluation and the fine and assessment ill remain the same.