Legal Professional?
Build Your Business

Things to Know if Charged With a Philadelphia DUI



If you have been charged with drunk driving in Chestnut Hill, Conshohocken, Queen Village or another area of Philadelphia, you will want to understand Philadelphia DUI laws.

This article will explain the thing you need to know if you care charged with a Philadelphia DUI.

What Is a Philadelphia DUI?

DUI stands for driving under the influence. DWI stands for driving while intoxicated. A Philadelphia DWI and DUI are the same crime. However, DUI is the official term used in Philadelphia.

There are two ways to be charged with a Philadelphia DUI. The first is based on your blood-alcohol content (BAC). Blood-alcohol content is the amount of alcohol in your blood. It can be measured in one of several ways. After your DUI arrest, you will be taken to the police station to have your BAC tested. In Philadelphia, this test must be done within two hours of your arrest. If you refuse this test, you may have your driver's license immediately suspended.

If your BAC is .08 or above, you will be charged with DUI. A BAC of .08 means that your blood contains eight one-hundredths of a percent of alcohol.

Even if your BAC is lower than .08, you can still be legally charged with drunk driving. If you are impaired due to drugs, alcohol or a combination of the two, an officer may still arrest you.

Philadelphia DUI Penalties

Philadelphia has a unique tier system to penalize those found guilty of committing DUI. The tiers are based on your BAC. The higher your BAC, the more severe the penalties. Multiple convictions will also result in harsher penalties.

The three tiers for Philadelphia DUI penalties are:

  • Lowest penalty: BAC of .08 to .99
  • Higher penalty: BAC of .10 to .159
  • Highest penalty: BAC of .16 or more

Under the lowest-penalty tier, a first-time offender may receive the following punishments:

  • Up to six months probation
  • $300 fine
  • Enrollment in alcohol highway safety school
  • Possible court-ordered treatment program

A second offense under the lowest-penalty tier is punishable by:

  • One year license suspension
  • Five days to six months in jail
  • $300 to $2,500 in fines
  • Enrollment in alcohol highway safety school
  • Possible court-ordered treatment program
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device for one year. An ignition interlock device prevents drivers from starting their cars unless they pass a BAC test.

A third offense under the lowest-penalty tier is punishable by:

  • One year license suspension
  • 10 days to two years in prison
  • $500 to $5,000 in fines
  • Possible court-ordered treatment program
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device for one year

A first offense under the higher-penalty tier is punishable by:

  • One year license suspension
  • Two days to six months in prison
  • $500 to $5,000 in fines
  • Enrollment in alcohol highway safety school
  • Possible court-ordered treatment program

A second offense under the higher-penalty tier is punishable by:

  • One year license suspension
  • 30 days to six months in prison
  • $750 to $5,000 in fines
  • Enrollment in alcohol highway safety school
  • Possible court-ordered treatment program
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device for one year

A third offense under the higher-penalty tier is punishable by:

  • 18 months license suspension
  • 90 days to five years in prison
  • $1,500 to $10,000 in fines
  • Possible court-ordered treatment program
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device for one year

A first offense under the highest-penalty tier is punishable by:

  • One year license suspension
  • Three days to six months in prison
  • $1,000 to $5,000 in fines
  • Enrollment in alcohol highway safety school
  • Possible court-ordered treatment program

A second offense under the highest-penalty tier is punishable by:

  • 18 month license suspension
  • 90 days to five years in prison
  • $1,500 to $10,000 in fines
  • Enrollment in alcohol highway safety school
  • Possible court-ordered treatment program
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device for one year

A third offense under the highest-penalty tier is punishable by:

  • 18 month license suspension
  • One to five years in prison
  • $2,500 to $10,000 in fines
  • Possible court-ordered treatment program
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device for one year

Hiring a Philadelphia DUI Attorney

After being charged with a Philadelphia DUI, you will want to hire an experienced Philadelphia DUI lawyer. Either you or someone you trust should take the necessary steps to investigate possible attorneys for you.

You can start your search by asking friends and family members for referrals. Ask if they have used a Philadelphia DUI lawyer in the past whom they can recommend.

You can also use a site like Attorneys.com. With Attorneys.com, fill out the online questionnaire or call us at 1-877-913-7222. After asking you a few question, we will connect you with at least one Philadelphia-area DUI attorney.

Next, schedule initial consultations with the lawyers you've identified. The initial consultation is your opportunity to ask the lawyer questions and tell them about your case. This will help you make a hiring decision. Questions to ask include:

  • How long has the attorney worked on Philadelphia DUI cases?
  • Has he ever worked on a case like yours?
  • What does he think of your case?
  • What kind of fee arrangement does the attorney use?
  • How can you reach the lawyer if you have any questions?

Once you are done speaking with the attorneys you are interested in, make a hiring decision.