DUI Law and Penalties in PA

Pennsylvania DUI Law & Penalties

PA DUI Law and PenaltiesWhat is Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)?
What is Implied Consent?
What is the Two-Hour Rule?
What is an Ignition Interlock Device? 
How Does an Ignition Interlock Device Work? 
PA DUI Law Penalties: General Impairment
PA DUI Law Penalties: High BAC
PA DUI Law Penalties: Highest BAC
PA DUI Law Penalties: License Suspensions

PA DUI Law

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)

BAC” is short for Blood Alcohol Content, which is the standard measurement of how much alcohol is in your blood at any given time in PA DUI Law. A BAC of .10 percent means that an individual’s blood supply contains one part alcohol for every 1,000 parts blood.

Pennsylvania’s DUI Law states the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit is 0.08% for general motorists, 0.04% for commercial drivers and 0.02% for drivers under the age of 21. Penalties increase based on your Blood Alcohol Content levels, the number of times you’ve been convicted, and whether or not injuries and damages resulted from your DUI.


Implied Consent

Implied Consent means you gave implied permission to submit to a test of your blood alcohol level, and it does not require direct, express, or explicit words of agreement. Refusal to submit to chemical testing, whether by breath, urine or blood will result in the suspension of a driver’s license for 12 months in Pennsylvania whether you are convicted of a DUI or not. It is the officer’s duty to make you aware of the license suspension if you refuse the test.


The Two-Hour Rule

In Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth may show:

  1. the BAC at the time of driving, OR
  2. the BAC during the following two hours.

This two-hour rule defines the BAC-related offenses in PA DUI Law. The Commonwealth must prove that as a result of drinking before driving, the defendant’s Blood Alcohol Content exceeded the legal limit within two hours of driving. Thus, the offender was “driving after imbibing,” though not necessarily “driving under the influence.” They need not prove the offender’s BAC at the time of driving.

Ignition Interlock Device

An ignition interlock device (IID) is similar to a Breathalyzer, is connected to the vehicle dashboard or other location inside the vehicle and requires that the driver breathe into the device prior to starting the vehicle. If the IID detects the blood alcohol concentration of the driver to be above the programmed limit in the ignition interlock device, then the engine of the vehicle will not start. In addition, at periodic times during the operation of the vehicle, the driver will be prompted to blow into the device to ensure they are not under the influence.


How an Ignition Interlock Device Works

The ignition interlock device is installed in the vehicle (typically in the glove compartment on the passenger’s side). It is then hard wired to the engine’s ignition system.

When you are ready to drive the vehicle, you will have to blow approximately 1.5 liters of air into a handheld alcohol sensor unit. This unit is normally located on the vehicle’s dashboard. If your breath alcohol content is over a preset limit, the device will not allow the car to start.

The ignition interlock devices contain a computer chip that records your BAC content when you take the breath tests. If your BAC is over a certain limit, either when trying to start the car or during one of the rolling tests, this report can be downloaded and provided to law enforcement or the court. The reports will also note if the device has been tampered with.

Monthly maintenance is performed on the ignition interlock device. This consists of downloading the data logs from the tests and checking to see if the device was tampered with. All pass/fail results must be maintained. The data logs will also show whether the driver failed to submit to a random or rolling test.


PA DUI Law Penalties

GENERAL IMPAIRMENT PENALTIES: Undetermined BAC, .08 to .099% BAC

First Offense:

  • Ungraded Misdemeanor
  • Up to 6 months probation
  • $300 fine
  • Alcohol Highway Safety school
  • Treatment when ordered by the Court

Second Offense:

  • Ungraded Misdemeanor
  • 12 month driver license suspension
  • Jail time from 5 days up to 6 months
  • 12 month driver license suspension
  • $300 to $2,500 fine
  • Alcohol Highway Safety school
  • Treatment when ordered by the Court
  • 1 year Ignition Interlock Device

Third Offense:

  • 2nd degree Misdemeanor
  • Jail time from 10 days up to 2 years
  • 12 month driver license suspension
  • $500 to $5,000 fine
  • Treatment when ordered by the Court
  • 1 year Ignition Interlock Device

HIGH BAC PENALTIES: .10 to .159% BAC

First Offense:

  • Ungraded Misdemeanor
  • 12 month driver license suspension
  • Jail time from 48 hours to 6 months
  • $500 to $5,000 fine
  • Alcohol Highway Safety school
  • Treatment when ordered by the Court

Second Offense:

  • Ungraded Misdemeanor
  • 12 month driver license suspension
  • Jail time from 30 days up to 12 months
  • $750 to $5,000 fine
  • Alcohol Highway Safety school
  • Treatment when ordered by the Court
  • 1 year Ignition Interlock Device

Third Offense:

  • 1st degree Misdemeanor
  • 18 month driver license suspension
  • Jail time of 90 days up to 5 years
  • $1,500 to $10,000 fine
  • Treatment when ordered by the Court
  • 1 year Ignition Interlock Device

HIGHEST BAC PENALTIES: .16% and Higher or Controlled Substance

First Offense:

  • Ungraded Misdemeanor
  • 12 month driver license suspension
  • Jail time from 72 hours to 6 months
  • $1,500 to $5,000 fine
  • Alcohol Highway Safety school
  • Treatment when ordered by the Court

Second Offense:

  • 1st degree Misdemeanor
  • 18 month driver license suspension
  • Jail time of 90 days up to 5 years
  • $1,500 to $10,000 fine
  • Alcohol Highway Safety school
  • Treatment when ordered by the Court
  • 1 year Ignition Interlock Device

Third Offense:

  • 1st degree Misdemeanor
  • 18 month driver license suspension
  • Jail time from 1 to 5 years
  • $2,500 to $10,000 fine
  • Treatment when ordered by the Court
  • 1 year Ignition Interlock Device

License Suspensions

PA DUI Law states Driver’s License suspensions will be imposed as follows:

  • BAC below .10% and incapable of safe driving: No suspension for first offense if the driver meets certain criteria; 12-month license suspension for second or subsequent offense.
  • BAC greater than or equal to .10% and less than .16%: 12-month license suspension for first and second offense. 18-month suspension for third or subsequent offense.
  • BAC greater than or equal to .16%: 12-month license suspension for first offense. 18 month suspension for second or subsequent offense.
  • Out-of-state DUI convictions: No suspension for first offense; 12-month license suspension for second or subsequent offense.

If you have been charged with DUI in Pennsylvania, contact the Bucks County law office of Keith J. Williams today to discuss your options!

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