Does a DUI Charge Always Lead to the Loss of Your License?

Interviewer: When arrested for DUI in Pennsylvania, are you charged with multiple offenses? Are you in danger of losing your driver’s license?

Ellis: Usually, it is multiple offenses. There is usually more than one way they can prove a DUI. One is based upon the officer’s observations. If the officer feels you are under the influence such that you could not operate a vehicle safely, that is one way to prove the DUI from the prosecution’s perspective.

The other way is based upon blood-alcohol level. The reason they have that first section, based upon the officer’s observation, is in case the person said no to a blood test or a breath test. If they refuse, they still need a way to convict. They base it upon the officer’s observations.

Most people do get more than one count of DUI charged. Typically, there are also summary citations attached to it. These are traffic tickets such as careless driving, weaving, speeding or whatever the probable cause was for the stop.

In Pennsylvania, if you are convicted and your level is above a 0.10 for a first offense, it is a mandatory one-year license suspension. If it is a second or subsequent offense, it is anywhere from a year to 18 months license suspension for a DUI.

Like I said, if you are a second offender or greater, it is very difficult if not impossible to get a bread and butter license. You cannot even drive to and from work.

Interviewer: What are the driver’s license consequences for a first-time offender? What can people do to mitigate the consequences?

Ellis: If you do get ARD, there is a short license suspension. If you are a 0.10 to 0.16, it is a 30 day suspension. If you are above 0.16, it is a 60 day suspension.

If you are a minor, under age 21 and driving under the influence, there will be a 90 day suspension.

Again, if you get convicted and it is a first offense, you typically lose your driver’s license for a year. There is a provision in the motor vehicle code that allows you to apply for a bread and butter license after serving 60 days. If you are convicted, you can probably get this bread and butter license to drive to and from work.

Again, for a second offense or greater, license suspension is anywhere from a one year to an 18-month suspension. There are no provisions to get an occupational, bread and butter license if it is a second offense or greater.

Interviewer: What happens to the person with a commercial driver’s license, for operation of a bus or truck, when charged with DUI??

Ellis: They come down really hard on you if you have a CDL, especially if you are driving a commercial vehicle. It is a very low standard, a 0.04% blood-alcohol level if you are driving a commercial vehicle.

Even if you are driving a personal automobile, or you get ARD, or you get convicted, it is an automatic one-year suspension of your CDL with no appeal process. It is very detrimental to people who have CDL’s.

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