DUI – General Impairment vs. DUI Based on BAC

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Driving Under the Influence: the definition is simple, right? Driving under the influence of alcohol with a BAC of .08% or higher. That’s what you always hear about on the news, that’s what all the commercials and PSAs talk about. But now you’ve been charged with DUI, and there’s a second charge – General Impairment. What is this extra charge?

In Pennsylvania, we have more than one definition of DUI. There is more than one subsection under the DUI statute, and you can be charged with both because each subsection has a different definition and different elements that must be proven.

Under 75 Pa.C.S. §3802(a)(1), the “General Impairment” subsection, DUI is defined as driving after imbibing an amount of alcohol which renders you incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle. You can be charged under this subsection even if you are under the legal limit. Additionally, you will almost always be charged with DUI-General Impairment in addition to the subsection related to your BAC. As I said, the elements they have to prove are different. Plus, if the lab makes a mistake on your blood test, General Impairment gives the prosecution a charge to fall back on.

There are three other subsections you can be charged under which relate to the amount of alcohol in your blood. If your BAC is between a .08-.099%, you can be charged under 75 Pa.C.S. §3802(a)(2). If the BAC is .10-.159%, you’ll fall under 75 Pa.C.S. §3802(b). Finally, if your BAC is a .16% or higher, you will be charged under 75 Pa.C.S. §3802(c). If you are charged under one of these subsections, the prosecution only has to show that your BAC fell into one of these ranges. They are NOT required to show that you are impaired as a result; that’s what General Impairment is for.

Many people call me confused, wondering how they can be charged with two counts of DUI for one incident. The answer is simple. As you can see, the different subsections require proof of different elements. This allows for two separate DUI charges.

It is important to understand the difference so that you can properly defend yourself. If you’ve been charged with DUI, call The Fliszar Firm today for a free consultation.