DUI With Minor Passenger Sentencing Enhancement

Most people already know that a charge of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) carries severe mandatory minimum penalties if a person is convicted. Pennsylvania recently increased the penalties for DUI convictions if a passenger in the vehicle was a minor, meaning under the age of 18. Now, if a minor is in the car, the person will also face substantially increased penalties. dui-minor-passenger-sentencing-enhancement

What are the Increased Grading and Penalties?

Under the revised section 3803 of the Vehicle Code, the grading of a DUI charge in which a minor was a passenger is a misdemeanor of the first degree, which is the most severe misdemeanor charge and is punishable by up to five years' incarceration and a $10,000 fine. Most first- and second-offense DUIs are ungraded misdemeanors and punishable by a sentence of up to six months of incarceration and a $5,000 fine, so the minor passenger enhancement is substantial.

Aside from increasing the maximum sentence, the minor passenger sentencing enhancement to the DUI law increases the mandatory minimum fine and imposes a hefty community service requirement for first offenses. The amendment imposes mandatory minimum fines and periods of incarceration for second and subsequent offenses.

The amendment did not change the DUI law discussing ARD eligibility. ARD is a first-time offender program that may allow a person to avoid a conviction and have the DUI charges dismissed and expunged upon completion of the program. A person is not eligible for ARD if a passenger in the vehicle was under 14 years old at the time of the incident. A person charged with a first-offense DUI does not have a right to participate in ARD. While a person is eligible for ARD if they have a minor passenger in the car, a district attorney still has discretion to deny ARD in such a situation.

Challenge the Penalties by Challenging the Offense

There are many defenses available in cases involving DUI charges. The key is to have an attorney on your side who knows how find them. Call JD Law at 814-954-1094 or email us to schedule a free initial consultation with a lawyer and discuss your options.