When someone is arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, it is often their first and only experience with the criminal justice system. It can be a shocking and confusing time, with more questions than immediate answers. One of the most common things people want to know is what will happen with their driver’s license?
The mere fact that someone was arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) does not mean their license is automatically suspended. Instead, it is the subsequent conviction that determines whether suspension occurs, based on their level of impairment and their personal history. If someone has never had a DUI before and their blood alcohol content (BAC) was below .10%, their driver’s license is not suspended in most cases.
For someone who had a relatively low BAC (below .10%), but they have previously been convicted of DUI, Pennsylvania law mandates a one-year suspension of the driver’s license. For a higher BAC, .10% and above, the license is suspended for 12 months even if they do not have a prior conviction.
Different combinations of higher BAC levels and prior convictions can result in the driver’s license being suspended for a year and a half. If the BAC was between .10% and .159%, but the driver had two or more prior convictions for DUI, an 18-month suspension is required. For the highest BAC levels (.16% and above), the driver need only have one prior DUI conviction for an 18-month suspension to result.
There are situations when Pennsylvania law departs from the general format – minors, commercial drivers and those convicted of a DUI following an accident resulting in injuries or property damage can face harsher license penalties. When in doubt, seek the advice of an experienced professional to help guide you through the process and determine what effect a DUI will have on your license.