DUI in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania's unique "per se" DUI laws make it different from other states, so it is necessary to learn about the law and its consequences before you make a mistake that will affect your life forever.

Per Se Law

Pennsylvania is perhaps one of the only few states in the United States with an actual per se law regarding drunk driving, meaning that if you have enough amount of alcohol in your system, then you will be punished as if it were the highest level of alcohol. This requires that your blood alcohol level be 0.08% or higher; then, you will receive one set of punishments. If your blood alcohol level is .16% or higher, then you will be punished most severely. If you are convicted for drunk driving under Pennsylvania law, get an attorney, because you will have to suffer through two court cases.

Pennsylvania DUI Penalties at a Glance

Court Fines Potential Jail Time License Suspension
1st Conviction $300 2 Days to 6 Months
1 Year
2nd Conviction $300-2,500 5 days - 6 Months
1 Year
3rd Conviction $1,500-10,000 10 days - 2 years 18 Months

The Court Cases

The first is the general court case where the judge hears you and gives you a sentence (there will be no jury unless this is a repeated offense and your blood alcohol level is .16% or higher). The second case is the PennDot case (PennDot stands for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation) and the DoT tries to suspend your driver's license in this case, though the action is entirely separate from the actual court.

Refusing Tests

You are allowed to refuse a blood or breath alcohol test under Pennsylvania law, but it's recommended that you don't, because your license will be suspended for an entire year if you do, even if you have committed no wrong and were not drunk. Under Pennsylvania law, if you have a driver's license then you give "implied consent" to the chemical tests of alcohol, so officers can generally stop you and test you if they have any grounds for believing that you were drinking.

If you are in need of legal assistance, consult with a DUI/DWI attorney in Pennsylvania to receive a free case review.

Consequences and Penalties

There are three levels of blood alcohol content, and the highest (from 0.16% on) receives the most punishment, while the lowest (0.08% to 0.099%) receives a lesser punishment. The lowest, assuming no prior DUI offenses, will result in a fine, a school that will teach you about drunk driving, probation and a revoked license. If it's the second offense, then you may get up to half a year of jail time, along with ignition interlock and fines, and a year-long license suspension. For higher BAC levels, it's possible (and very likely) to get prison time on the first misdemeanor, so be careful of what you drink before you drive!

If you've been charged with a DUI, consult with a DUI lawyer today to have the best chance at mitigating the consequences.

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