Pennsylvania DUI Laws

Laws and penalties for DUI in Pennsylvania.

In Pennsylvania, you can get a DUI (driving under the influence, also known as drunk driving) if you drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, regardless of whether your driving ability was actually impaired. Pennsylvania has a three-tiered DUI system with sentencing based on how high your BAC was at the time of driving. "General impairment" is considered to be from a 0.08 to 0.099% BAC. A "high BAC" is considered 0.10 to 0.159%, and the “highest BAC” level is considered 0.16% and higher. Here are the details about sentencing and some other important details about Pennsylvania DUI law.

What are the minimum jail times for a DUI in Pennsylvania?

Here are the minimum jail times for a DUI in Pennsylvania, broken out by whether this is your first, second, or third DUI offense:

1st offense

2nd offense

3rd offense

BAC .08 - .099: No minimum jail time required

BAC .10 - .159: 2 days jail

BAC .16 and higher: 3 days jail

BAC .08 - .099: 5 days jail

BAC .10 - .159: 30 days jail

BAC .16 and higher: 90 days jail

BAC .08 - .099: 10 days jail

BAC .10 - .159: 90 days jail

BAC .16 and higher: 1 year jail

In Pennsylvania, when do police have to measure your blood alcohol content (BAC)?

In Pennsylvania, law enforcement officers are supposed to measure your BAC sometime after driving, but if the BAC is more than 0.08% but less than 0.10%, it has to be within two hours after the individual has driven. However, prosecutors may be able to prove your culpability for DUI even if your BAC is taken later than this time.

What is the maximum BAC for drivers under 21 in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, the maximum blood alcohol content (BAC) for drivers who are under 21 (considered minors under some drinking and driving laws) is .02%.

In Pennsylvania, what are the consequences of refusing to take a chemical test (usually a breathalyzer or blood test) when suspected of DUI?

The law in Pennsylvania says that if you are driving a vehicle, you have given consent to submit to a chemical test for the purpose of determining the amount of alcohol in your blood. If you refuse to take a breathalyzer or blood test in Pennsylvania, your license will be suspended. Here is how long the license suspension will last, broken out by whether this is your first, second, or third DUI offense:

1st offense

2nd offense

3rd offense

1 year license suspension

18 month license suspension

18 month license suspension

How long will prior DUI convictions remain relevant for sentencing purposes in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, prior DUI convictions stay on your record (and can be counted against you when you are being sentenced for another DUI offense) for 10 years.

Can a DUI be “pleaded down” to a "wet reckless" in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, it’s possible for a driver who’s charged with driving under the influence to plea bargain for a lesser charge. When a DUI is plea bargained down to a reckless driving charge, it’s sometimes called a “wet reckless.”

(Read about reckless driving and the consequences of a conviction.)

Are ignition interlock devices (IIDs) required for convicted DUI offenders in Pennsylvania?

An IID is required during the period of license restriction if you are convicted of a second DUI within 10 years or if you are convicted of a refusal to take a chemical test.

Where can I get more information about DUI laws in Pennsylvania?

Nolo's DUI / DWI topic has many helpful articles, including a Drunk Driving, DUI, and DWI FAQ. For more help after a DUI arrest, see Nolo's Lawyer Directory, where you can view in-depth profiles of Pennsylvania DUI attorneys in your area.

For more information about the legal limit, see the Blood Alcohol Level Chart.

Last updated on 09/01/2010.


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