What Is a Felony DUI in Pennsylvania?

Aggravating factors that can make a drunk driving charge a felony.

In Pennsylvania, you can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) for operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more or while under the influence of (impaired by) drugs or alcohol. Most DUI convictions are misdemeanor criminal offenses. However, certain aggravating factors can make a DUI a felony, a more serious criminal offense.

Here are some of the circumstances that can result in felony DUI charges in Pennsylvania.

Fourth DUI Conviction Is a Felony

Generally, a first, second, or third DUI is a misdemeanor in Pennsylvania. But if a driver has three or more prior DUI convictions within the past ten years, the current offense will be a third-degree felony.

How a Third Offense Can be a Felony

A third DUI conviction is a third-degree felony if:

  • the offender refused a chemical test in violation of the state's implied consent laws
  • the offense involved a BAC of .16% or higher
  • the offense involved at least one passenger under the age of 18, or
  • the offender was under the influence of a controlled substance.

The jail time, fines, and other penalties depend on the specific circumstances of the offense.

Felony Charges for DUIs Involving Injuries and Deaths

DUIs involving serious injuries to another person are second-degree felonies. Convictions carry up to ten years in prison and a maximum $25,000 in fines.

Causing the death of another person while driving under the influence is considered "homicide-by-vehicle," a second-degree felony. Convicted motorists are looking at three to ten years in prison and a maximum $25,000 in fines.

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