Get a Free Case Review

(215) 302-0171

Can You Go to Jail for a Second DUI in Pennsylvania?

Courts have been cracking down on DUIs in recent years, issuing harsher punishments, including jail time. Heavy sentencing for this type of crime is undoubtedly issued in an effort to deter people from drinking and driving in the future. Having one DUI on your record can seriously hinder educational and employment opportunities. A criminal record that contains 2 DUIs, as well as a history of incarceration, is understatedly difficult to recover from.

A second DUI will undoubtedly pose more trouble than the first. Not only will the courts be far less sympathetic to a repeat offender, but you might not be eligible for alternative sentencing options. The penalties for a second DUI are also often harsher, with longer license suspensions and possible jail time.

The Philadelphia DUI defense lawyers from the Law Office of Lloyd Long know how DUIs are typically penalized in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Call our offices at (215) 302-0171 for a free case review today.

Pennsylvania General DUI Laws

Penalties for DUIs are categorized and issued based on the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) and history of prior offenses. These differ from the penalties for a first-offense DUI in Pennsylvania. In 2003, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania passed legislation that lowered the legal limit of alcohol from .10 to .08. Thus, a person whose blood alcohol content is higher than .08 may receive a DUI. The 3 levels of a DUI include:

  1. General Impairment – .08 to .099% BAC
  2. High BAC – .10 to .159% BAC
  3. Highest BAC – .16% and higher

Certain classes of people might be subject to harsher penalties even if their BAC was lower than the category of penalty they fell under. Individuals who are part of special classes include:

  • Underage drivers
  • School vehicle and bus drivers
  • Commercial drivers
  • Drivers who cause injuries to others and/or property damage
  • Drivers who refuse breath and chemical testing

Contact our Philadelphia defense lawyer for a car accident causing property damage if you damaged someone’s car, home, or personal property in a crash that may or may not have been related to a DUI.

What is Considered a Second Offense DUI in Pennsylvania?

It might sound silly to ask what constitutes a second DUI offense in Pennsylvania. Obviously, a second DUI is one committed some time after your first. However, how the law treats your DUI charges might change based on how long ago your first DUI occurred.

Pennsylvania adheres to a 10-year lookback rule under 75 Pa.C.S. § 3806. According to this rule, prior DUIs are only considered if they occurred within the last 10 years of your current charges. If your first DUI were over 10 years ago, your second DUI would be legally treated as if it were your first. It is important to remember that the 10-year lookback period starts on the date of your last conviction, not the date you were charged. This nuance to the lookback rule was established in 2019 in the case of Commonwealth v. Mock in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Penalties for Second DUIs

First Tier – General Impairment

If a driver is convicted of a second DUI under the General Impairment category (.08-.099% BAC), the following penalties may be issued:

  • 5 days to 6 months jail time
  • 12-month license suspension
  • 1-year ignition interlock
  • $300 to $2,500 fine
  • Treatment when ordered
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • Ungraded misdemeanor

Second Tier – High Impairment

If a driver is convicted of a second DUI under the High BAC category (.10-.159% BAC), the following penalties may be issued:

  • 30 days to 6 months jail time
  • 12-month license suspension
  • 1-year ignition interlock
  • $750 to $5,000 fine
  • Treatment when ordered
  • Alcohol highway safety school
  • Ungraded misdemeanor

Third Tier – Highest Rate of Impairment

If a driver is convicted of a second DUI under the Highest BAC category (.16% and higher BAC), the following penalties may be issued:

  • 90 days to 5 years jail time
  • 18-month license suspension
  • 1-year ignition interlock
  • $1,500 to $10,000 fine
  • Treatment when ordered
  • Alcohol highway safety school

Retaining the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Philadelphia can help you get a better plea bargain and, in some cases, a lighter sentence.

Other Factors for Second DUI Penalties

There may be different penalties depending on the conditions and circumstances of your case.

Underage DUI

One such condition is the age of the driver. Underage drivers may face different penalties because it is illegal for them to have alcohol at all. According to 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802(e), a minor may be charged with a DUI when their BAC is as low as .02%.

Injuries and Property Damage

Other factors include injuries and damage to property. Many DUIs end in car accidents where people and property are harmed. There may be penalties above and beyond the standard DUI penalties. According to 75 Pa.C.S. § 3804(b)(2), a driver who drove while intoxicated and was a minor or injured other people or property must face imprisonment for at least 30 days, pay a fine of at least $750 but no more than $5,000, and attend an approved highway safety school.

Refusing to Submit to Chemical Testing

In Pennsylvania and most other states, drivers are legally required to submit to chemical testing once they have been arrested for a DUI. Chemical testing will accurately measure your BAC by testing your breath, blood, or urine. While chemical testing is required, law enforcement will not physically force you to comply. However, you may face additional criminal charges for refusal to submit to chemical testing. Your charges will depend on how many DUIs you have on your record, but most charges for refusing chemical testing are misdemeanors. However, if you have two or more prior offenses, you may be charged with a third-degree felony.

Injuries to a Minor Passenger

Your charges and penalties may also change if you have a passenger in your car under the age of 18. For a first or second offense, you can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. A subsequent offense can result in third-degree felony charges. Call our Pennsylvania DUI defense attorneys for help if you are facing charges for a second DUI.

Consequences of a Second DUI

In addition to feelings of guilt and embarrassment over receiving a second DUI, a convicted driver also faces mandatory jail time for a period of 5 days to 5 years, depending on the BAC level at the time the driver was pulled over. Other effects of a DUI conviction are more far-reaching than most people may realize; for example, your academic and future career may be affected if you were charged with a DUI as a Drexel student or student of a university in the area. If this has been the case, it is essential to contact our DUI lawyer for Temple students, UPenn students, and Drexel students. Some of these effects include:

  • Your insurance company may significantly increase your rates, and it may choose to drop you altogether as a client.
  • If you are applying to colleges, a DUI on your record may hinder your chances of getting into the school you want to attend. If you are already a student, your university may choose to suspend you and revoke any scholarships you may have. Furthermore, DUI convictions can make it more difficult for you to get a student loan.
  • Any entity that requires you to submit a background check will see evidence of your DUI conviction.
  • The record of your DUI may hinder your opportunities for advancement in your field of employment. Many employers run background checks on prospective job candidates, and if employers see the record of your DUI, they may be discouraged from hiring you.

Can You Avoid Jail Time After a Second DUI in Pennsylvania?

Time behind bars is part of the standard penalties for all DUIs involving a second offense. The shortest amount of time spent in jail would be for a second DUI of general impairment. For such an offense, you can expect to spend at least 5 days in jail. Jail time increases to at least 30 days for a second offense of a high rate of alcohol and at least 90 days for a second offense of the highest rate of alcohol.

The best way to avoid jail time is to either beat the charges or receive an alternative sentence. An alternative sentence would be something like probation. On probation, you would serve your sentence while remaining at home in your community. However, there are numerous restrictions on your freedom, including regular check-ins with a probation officer, alcohol treatment and education, and more.

The odds of being sentenced to probation for a second DUI are not good. Courts are often reluctant to impose a lenient sentence for a defendant who they believe might re-offend. It is also possible that your second DUI makes you ineligible for probation for another statutory reason. Talk to our Pennsylvania DUI defense lawyers about your second DUI and if you can avoid jail time.

How Long is Probation for a Second DUI in Pennsylvania?

The amount of time you might spend on probation will vary based on the details of your case. For a second DUI, the court might be hesitant to sentence you to probation in the first place. Our DUI defense attorneys for Drexel students can help you argue for an alternative sentence that allows you to avoid jail or prison time.

It can be expected that your probation sentence will be as long if not longer than the minimum sentence possible for your offense. Depending on your case, your probation period might even be longer than the maximum jail term that would otherwise be imposed. To get an idea of how long you might be on probation – if you are eligible for probation at all – you should speak with our Pennsylvania DUI defense lawyers immediately.

Can You Get a Second DUI Expunged in Pennsylvania?

Most DUIs in Pennsylvania are expunged through the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. The ARD program provides automatic expungement of a DUI after the defendant successfully completes the program. Unfortunately, ARD is typically reserved for first-time offenders. A defendant convicted of a second DUI will likely not be admitted to an ARD program in Pennsylvania.

There are other ways to expunge your DUI, but they might be more challenging than ARD. Generally, an offense can be expunged only if it is a summary offense. Summary offenses are very minor and tend to come with little to no jail time. Low-level DUIs of general impairment may be charged as summary offenses and eligible for expungement. However, a second DUI or a DUI of a greater level of intoxication might not be eligible for expungement without ARD. Talk to our Pennsylvania DUI defense lawyers for more information.

How Long Do You Lose Your License for a Second DUI in Pennsylvania?

The amount of time you lose your license for a second DUI offense may depend on your level of intoxication and various other circumstances surrounding your case. Generally, a person with only one prior DUI on their record within the last 10 years will be charged with an ungraded misdemeanor. As such, according to 75 Pa.C.S. 3804(e), a license suspension for an ungraded misdemeanor DUI offense will be for 12 months. However, if you are charged with a DUI for the highest level of impairment, your suspension will be for 18 months.

Keep in mind, additional charges, such as refusal to submit to chemical testing or charges related to injuring people or property, may add time to your license suspension. Talk to our Pennsylvania DUI defense lawyers about how to avoid a license suspension for a second DUI.

How Is Insurance Affected by a Second DUI?

Unfortunately, DUIs are reported to insurance companies, and your insurance rates might be affected. When drivers show themselves to be unsafe behind the wheel, their insurance companies might charge them more for insurance because they perceive the client to be a higher risk. A second DUI will only solidify this belief and lead to another increase in insurance costs.

Not only will your insurance become more expensive, but it might also be difficult to enroll in a new insurance policy. If you did not have insurance at the time of your DUI and you wish to acquire new insurance after being convicted, you might run into trouble. An insurance company could be reluctant to take you on as a client if you have two DUIs on your record. Getting your DUIs expunged can help, but it might not always be possible. Talk to our Pennsylvania DUI defense attorneys about your insurance options after getting a DUI.

Philadelphia Multiple DUI Defense Lawyer

If you were arrested for a second DUI, your best chance at a lighter sentence is to hire a skilled Philadelphia multiple DUI defense lawyer. Lloyd Long fights tirelessly to protect the legal rights of his clients. Call the Law Office of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 for a free case review.