Is A Dui A Felony In PA?
In Pennsylvania, a DUI offence is in most cases not a felony but a misdemeanor,
regardless of the tier or the BAC. It’s the grade of the
misdemeanor that depends on whether you commit repeated offences or
not and having high or higher BAC. First time and second DUI offenses are
classified as ungraded misdemeanors, the least gravity. The third and the
following DUI convictions are second-degree or first-degree misdemeanors,
depending on the BAC. Grading takes into account the 10-year lookback or “washout”
period for DUI offenses, which means that a DUI offence that took place more than 10
years before the current incident will not add to the gravity grade.
Correspondingly, you will still be able to get car insurance, although at
extremely high rates, which will go down the longer you drive without DUI incidents.
Note that your current policy may be cancelled by your insurer immediately
and you may have to buy a new one for at a doubled rate or find a new insurer
(post DUI rates differ with different companies).
However, if a DUI incident results in a personal injury or death of a
person other than the driver you’ll be charged with a felony and sentenced
with a jail term. Such severe outcomes inflict the so-called sentencing enhancements,
putting the offence into other than a common DUI category and qualify DUI as a felony.
Specifically, you’ll be charged with one of the following offences: aggravated assault while under the influence, felony DUI with injury or homicide while under the influence. Keeping your current insurance policy or getting a new one will be extremely difficult, if you need one at all for chances are that you’ll have to serve a jail term. The more severe the offence the worse insurance terms.
Felony DUI with Injury
Felony DUI with injury is the mildest type of DUI felony in PA, charged for personal damage. A driver in Pennsylvania can be charged with a felony DUI with injury in any DUI incident that entailed even the slightest injury to anyone besides the driver in a crash or as a result of drunk driving. The punishment for this type of felony DUI is more severe than for a standard Pennsylvania DUI case bringing about no injuries. Fine up to $5.000, loss of driver’s license for 1 year and up to 6 months in jail.
Aggravated Assault While Under The Influence
Under Pennsylvania DUI law, aggravated assault while under the influence is a second-degree felony. Aggravated assault while under the influence is charged for any Pennsylvania DUI offences when a person other than the drunk driver suffered serious permanent disfigurement, a life-threatening injury, protracted loss or a long-term impairment of any bodily organ or function. Accordingly, it inflicts more severe penalties than felony DUI with injury: up to ten years jail term and a maximum $25,000 fine. If the injuries received by the victim are other than described above, the case can be classified as Felony DUI with injury, which inflicts milder punishment.
Homicide While Under the Influence
Under Pennsylvania DUI law, homicide while under the influence is a second-degree felony. Homicide while under the influence is the most severe type of felony DUI. A person is charged with homicide while under the influence when a person other than the driver dies as a result of drunk driving incident. Causing death to more than one person may be grounds to bring separate charges for each count of homicide. Accordingly, the punishment that may be imposed for each count of homicide is three to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000 .
If you are to face one of the three above charges, especially the latter one, only a skilled attorney can help you get adequate or reduce DUI penalties to a legally adequate minimum. Mounting you defence will require not just legal services but also the services of a few other experts, like chemical test expert or accident reconstructionalist. However, avoiding a jail term and substantial fine is next to impossible.
Other sentencing enhancements include multiple DUI and high or highest BAC. The latter are the most common and although they do not bring a felony charge but an aggravated grade of misdemeanor DUI, all the sentencing enhancements will inflict larger fines, longer driver’s license suspensions and longer jail sentences.
The question about DUI being a felony in Pennsylvania is very common as a felony is the most severe of the tree existing types of criminal offence which inflicts incarceration over 1 year. It takes a simple deduction to understand that the gravest crimes punished by life terms of even executions also belong to the felony group. So, having a felony of one’s criminal record is not a gift and will impact the offender’s future career, credibility and other aspects of life is the worst possible way, like revocation of any professional license, inability to own firearms, inability to vote, inability to receive federal aid . However, DUI being just a misdemeanor without the above three sentencing enhancements creates a very negligible attitude to the problem. If you are such a type of person that the possibility of injuring or killing innocent people does not prevent you from starting the engine after having a drink, think at least about having a felony on your record before you commit a DUI act.