Pennsylvania DUI Laws and Penalties

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If you live or drive in Pennsylvania, it’s important to know the Pennsylvania DUI laws. A drink or two with friends could put the safety of other citizens at risk and lead to an expensive and stressful DUI arrest.

In 2003, the state of Pennsylvania lowered the blood alcohol content requirement for determining if a person is impaired from .10 to .08. This legislation also introduced alcohol treatment as a component of DUI enforcement.

The combination of a person’s BAC level and previous offenses determine DUI penalties. The new law also focuses on treatment for first-time DUI offenders, instead of only harsh penalties and suspensions.

Three Levels of DUI Offenses

  1. General Impairment: .08–.099 percent BAC
  2. High BAC: .10–.15 percent BAC
  3. Highest BAC: BAC is .16 percent and higher

If the following conditions are met, drivers may be placed in the high BAC category even if their BAC wasn’t within the guidelines:

  • Refuse testing
  • Underage offenders—drivers under 211
  • Commercial vehicle drivers
  • School bus drivers or any school-related vehicles
  • Having an accident that causes personal injury or property damage

Pennsylvania DUI Laws

DUI consequences are determined by BAC level and number of prior offenses.2

General Impairment

No prior DUI offenses:

  • Crime: ungraded misdemeanor
  • Penalty: up to 6 months of probation
  • Fine: $300
  • Education: alcohol highway safety school
  • Treatment: substance abuse treatment when ordered

One prior DUI offense:

  • Crime: ungraded misdemeanor
  • License: 12-month suspension
  • Penalty: 5 days to 6 months’ incarceration
  • Fine: $300 to $2,500
  • Education: alcohol highway safety school
  • Treatment: treatment when ordered
  • Ignition interlock: 1 year

Two or more prior DUI offenses:

  • Crime: 2nd degree misdemeanor
  • License: 12-month suspension
  • Penalty: 10 days to 2 years’ incarceration
  • Fine: $500 to $5,000
  • Treatment: treatment when ordered
  • Ignition interlock: 1 year

High BAC

No prior DUI offenses:

  • Crime: ungraded misdemeanor
  • License: 12-month suspension
  • Penalty: 48 hours to 6 months’ incarceration
  • Fine: $500 to $5,000
  • Education: alcohol highway safety school
  • Treatment: treatment when ordered

One prior DUI offense:

  • Crime: ungraded misdemeanor
  • License: 12-month suspension
  • Penalty: 30 days to 6 months’ incarceration
  • Fine: $750 to $5,000
  • Education: alcohol highway safety school
  • Treatment: treatment when ordered
  • Ignition interlock: 1 year

Two or more prior DUI offenses:

Pennsylvania DUI Laws

  • Crime: 1st degree misdemeanor
  • License: 18-month suspension
  • Penalty: 90 days to 5 years’ incarceration
  • Fine: $1,500 to $10,000
  • Treatment: treatment when ordered
  • Ignition interlock: 1 year

3 or more prior DUI offenses:

  • Crime: 1st degree misdemeanor
  • License: 18-month suspension
  • Penalty: 1 to 5 years’ incarceration
  • Fine: $1,500 to $10,000
  • Treatment: treatment when ordered
  • Ignition interlock: 1 year

Highest BAC or Controlled Substance

No prior DUI offenses:

  • Crime: ungraded misdemeanor
  • License: 12-month suspension
  • Penalty: 72 hours to 6 months’ incarceration
  • Fine: $1,000 to $5,000
  • Education: alcohol highway safety school
  • Treatment: treatment when ordered

One prior DUI offense:

  • Crime: 1st degree misdemeanor
  • License: 18-month suspension
  • Penalty: 90 days to 5 years’ incarceration
  • Fine: $1,500 to $10,00
  • Education: alcohol highway safety school
  • Treatment: treatment when ordered
  • Ignition interlock: 1 year

Two or more prior DUI offenses:

  • Crime: 1st degree misdemeanor
  • License: 18-month suspension
  • Penalty: 1 to 5 years’ incarceration
  • Fine: $2,500 to $10,000
  • Treatment: treatment when ordered
  • Ignition interlock: 1 year

References:

  1. https://alcoholpolicy.niaaa.nih.gov/Blood_Alcohol_Concentration_Limits_Youth_Underage_Operators_of_Noncommercial_Motor_Vehicles.html
  2. http://www.dmv.pa.gov/Information-Centers/Laws-Regulations/Pages/DUI-Legislation.aspx