Increase in DUIs Following Superbowl
Updated: Feb 15
Even in a time when many people are choosing not to congregate in favor of social distancing, Pennsylvania has still seen a sharp increase in DUI charges following the Superbowl. Generally, the Superbowl is a big catalyst for DUI charges, as it is a social event that often involves drinking and eating over a period of several hours. Researchers say that drinking and eating over an extended period of time can make it difficult to accurately assess your level of sobriety, and may create the impression that you are less intoxicated than you are. Being surrounded by other individuals who are intoxicated can also create a false impression that you are sober by comparison.
New research seems to confirm this, showing that nationally there are 22% more DUI charges brought against drivers with at least one prior DUI conviction in the hours following the Superbowl than during the same time period on a regular Sunday. The Lycoming County DUI Task Force announced earlier this month that it had plans to increase DUI enforcement activities for the entire week of the Superbowl.
If you have recently been charged with DUI, you are not alone. DUIs have been increasing nationwide, as unemployment, housing instability, and financial stressors all increase due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our firm is here to help you navigate this process by finding the best possible course of action for you and zealously advocating on your behalf until we have achieved the desired outcome.
Below is an overview of Pennsylvania DUI law and some frequently asked questions. If you have any questions, or are in need of DUI representation, please feel free to reach out and schedule a consultation.
Pennsylvania DUI Laws
Each state’s DUI laws are slightly different. Pennsylvania has three tiers of DUI offense, which correspond to the level of intoxication. These tiers are outlined below:
General Impairment. This is the lowest level DUI offense, and applies when an individual’s Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is .08-.099. Prior to 2003, Pennsylvania state law held that the threshold for a DUI was a BAC of .10. However, federal highway funds were made contingent upon states lowering the threshold for intoxication to .08. This tiered system, with the lightest penalties for BAC levels below .10, is essentially the state’s compromise, and an attempt to recognize that there are different levels of intoxication that should carry different levels of penalties. You can also be charged for a General Impairment DUI if your BAC is less than .08 percent but the Commonwealth believes it can prove you were too impaired to safely drive.
High BAC Penalties. This is the “medium” tier of DUI offenses, which corresponds to a BAC level of .10 - .159.
Highest BAC Penalties. This is the most serious tier of DUI offenses, which applies to BAC of .16 or higher as well as controlled substances and those who refuse a breathalyzer and/or other chemical testing.
All of these tiers allow for treatment options. Additionally, first- and second-time offenders at any tier are required to take a course in alcohol highway safety.
What are the Penalties for DUI?
In Pennsylvania, the penalties for DUI correspond to their tier. Additionally, DUIs are a stacking offense, which means that the penalties are compounded, or become worse, each time you accumulate another charge. For instance, for a general impairment DUI, penalties range from six months’ probation, a $300 fine, alcohol highway safety school, and treatment, for someone with no prior convictions, to a 12-month license suspension, 10 days to two years in prison, a $500-$5000 fine, treatment, and a one-year ignition interlock for someone with two or more prior convictions. A Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney will zealously advocate on your behalf, and negotiate the best possible outcome for you based on the unique facts and circumstances of your situation.
Should I Refuse to Take a Breathalyzer Test?
Sometimes people think that they can avoid producing evidence of their intoxication by refusing to take a breathalyzer test. However, Pennsylvania law prevents that loophole. If you refuse to take a breathalyzer test in the state of Pennsylvania, your test will be classified as “could not be determined,” which falls under the General Impairment tier. However, it will receive the Highest BAC Penalties (the penalties for the most serious tier, with BAC of .16 or higher). The logic is that if the worst scare scenario is the same, and you are receiving the harshest category of penalties regardless, you will agree to test in hopes that you blow a lower score than .16.
I Was Charged With DUI: What Should I Do?
If you have been charged with DUI, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. A Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney will review the specific facts and circumstances of your case to determine the best possible course of action to best avoid or minimize the impact of this charge on your life.
Can I Avoid Jail?
If this is your first DUI conviction, a Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney may be able to help you to avoid jail time, and significantly reduce the amount of time your license is suspended, by seeking your admission into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program. Another huge benefit of the program is that once you have met the requirements and completed the program, your attorney may be able to request dismissal of the charges and expungement of your record., thereby liberating you from the handicap that having a criminal record when seeking housing and employment. Scheduling a consultation with our firm will allow you to determine whether jail time can be avoided for you, and if so, how.
Contact Dusharm Law LLC
If you have been charged with DUI, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure about your options. Reading about the law online, it can seem so black and white. However, there is actually a lot of grey area as well, that an experienced lawyer knows how to use to your advantage. If you have questions about how to secure the best possible outcome for your specific situation, it is important to speak with an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Some options are time sensitive, so it is important to seek professional legal advice sooner rather than later. Contact Dusharm Law LLC, and find out how you can start putting your past behind you today. Our firm has years of experience fighting for the people of Pennsylvania. We are here and ready to help you.