Pennsylvania is like every other state in its prohibiting the act of driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Drivers who are found to be high or drunk while driving risk being arrested, sentenced to jail and losing their drivers’ licenses.
Avoiding a DUI in Pennsylvania is easy, however, when drivers know what the legal blood alcohol content limits are for each category of driver. They can also make the decision to drive safely by knowing what kinds of penalties they will face in court if they are found guilty of DUI in Pennsylvania.
DUI in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania uses the same per se definition for DUI in the state. Like other states, it outlaws driving with a blood alcohol content or BAC level of 0.08 percent or higher. This definition applies solely to drivers who are 21 years of age and older and who drive privately owned vehicles like cars, trucks and motorcycles.
The BAC limit is different for commercial drivers and people who hold commercial drivers’ licenses. They technically are not supposed to have any alcohol or drugs in their system while driving. However, the law in Pennsylvania allows for them to have a BAC of under 0.04 percent before they are arrested for DUI.
The BAC limit for underage drivers is even lower at 0.02 percent. Drivers who are under the age of 21 can be arrested for DUI in Pennsylvania if they have a BAC at or above this level.
The state also allows for people to get DUIs without even driving a vehicle. If they are found to be in actual physical control of a vehicle, such as sitting in the driver’s seat or having the key in the ignition, while they are at or above the 0.08 percent BAC limit, they can be arrested for DUI.
DUI Penalties in Pennsylvania
Drivers who are found guilty of DUI in Pennsylvania can face any number of penalties. The punishments they incur are a direct result of factors like their prior DUI history and their BAC levels at the time of their arrest.
A first DUI in Pennsylvania can result in a jail term of up to six months and a fine of $300. The offender will not have his or her license suspended, however.
A second offense results in DUI penalties like a jail sentence of five days to six months. The fine increases to $300 to $2500, and the driver can lose his or her license for up to 12 months.
A driver who is convicted of three DUIs within 10 years can face penalties like 10 days to two years in jail. The fine increases to $500 to $5000, and the person can have his or her license suspended for up to a year.
High Rate and Higher Rate DUIs in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania allows for DUIs to be charged as high rate and higher rate if they meet certain criteria. A high rate DUI is one that involves a BAC of at least 0.10 percent but less than 0.16 percent. A higher rate DUI is one that involves a BAC of higher than 0.16 percent or the driver refuses a chemical test or has a controlled substance in his or her system.
A first high rate DUI conviction results in penalties like:
- 48 hours to six months in jail
- $500 to $5000 in fines
- 12 months’ license suspension
A second high rate DUI conviction leads to:
- 30 days to six months in jail
- $750 to $5000 in fines
- 12 months’ license suspension
A third high rate DUI conviction garners:
- 90 days to five years in jail
- $1500 to $10,000 in fines
- 18 months’ license suspension
A driver convicted of a higher rate DUI receives 72 hours in jail, a fine of $1000 to $5000 and a license suspension of 12 months. A second higher rate offender gets 90 days to five years in jail, a fine of $1500 to $10,000, and a license suspension of 18 months. A third higher rate DUI offender receives one to five years in jail, a fine of $2500 to $10,000, and 18 months’ license suspension.
Pennsylvania relies on a serious of strict laws to outlaw driving under the influence in the state. It has separate penalties for standard DUIs and those charged as high rate and higher rate DUIs. The penalties reflect a person’s prior DUI history and BAC at the time of the arrest.