Pennsylvania Impaired Driving (DUI) Laws and Penalties

How Pennsylvania defines DUI and the consequences of a conviction.

Pennsylvania prohibits any person from driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle:

A driver is considered under the influence of drugs or alcohol if rendered incapable of safely driving.

Pennsylvania DUI Penalties

The consequences for a DUI conviction depend on various factors, including the number of prior offenses the driver has within the last ten years and the circumstances of the incident. For sentencing purposes, Pennsylvania has three main categories of DUIs: “general impairment,” “high rate,” and “highest rate.”

General Impairment DUIs

Drivers who are under the influence (as defined above) or have a BAC of at least .08% but less than .10% can be convicted of a general impairment DUI and face the following penalties.

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

Jail

6 months probation but no jail time

5 days to 6 months

10 days to 2 years

Fines

$300

$300 to $2,500

$500 to $5,000

License Suspension

None

12 months

12 months

High Rate DUIs

The following penalties are those for high rate DUIs and apply to drivers who had a BAC of at least .10% but less than .16%, were operating a commercial vehicle, were under 21 years old, or caused an accident resulting in injury, death, or property damage.

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

Jail

48 hours to 6 months

30 days to 6 months

90 days to 5 years

Fines

$500 to $5,000

$750 to $5,000

$1,500 to $10,000

License Suspension

12 months

12 months

18 months

Highest Rate DUIs

The last category of penalties, high rate DUIs, includes offenses where the driver had a BAC of .16% or more, refused breathalyzer testing in violation of the state’s implied consent law, or had controlled substances in his or her system.

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense (Felony)

Jail

72 hours to 6 months

90 days to 5 years

1 to 5 years

Fines

$1,000 to $5,000

$1,500 to $10,000

$2,500 to $10,000

License Suspension

12 months

18 months

18 months

Administrative License-Related Penalties

Pennsylvania requires all drivers lawfully arrested for a DUI to submit to a breath or blood test. A refusal will result in the following penalties:

  • First offense. 12-month license suspension and $500 license reinstatement fee
  • Second offense. 18-month suspension and $1,000 reinstatement fee
  • Third offense. 18-month suspension and $2,000 reinstatement fee

All drivers who receive a license suspension for a DUI conviction or a test refusal will need to have an ignition interlock device (IID) in their vehicle for at least one year after license reinstatement. Generally, a driver can obtain limited driving privileges during the suspension by installing the IID after serving half of the suspension period.

Pennsylvania’s “Accelerate Rehabilitative Disposition” Program

Pennsylvania has an alternative program for DUI first offenders (those with no priors within the past ten years) that can reduce some of the consequences of a DUI offense. Program participants must complete:

  • an alcohol highway safety school program
  • an alcohol and drug evaluation and recommended treatment
  • six to 12 months of court supervision, and
  • a reduced driver’s license suspension period.

However, participants who successfully complete all requirements earn the dismissal of their DUI charge.

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