In Pennsylvania, a DUI charge is a serious offense. You should take the charge seriously and follow all instructions given to you. If you’re convicted of a DUI, you could face penalties ranging from a fine all the way up to imprisonment. In most cases, you’ll have to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) even after your first offense. While understanding the law is important, legal topics are complex and individual. That being said, here are the common laws to be aware of.
Is it Legal to Drive? BAC Levels and Legality in Pennsylvania
It’s never legal to drive with a BAC higher than 0.08% in Pennsylvania. However, depending on your age and license type, other limits may be even stricter. Here are the basic BAC level limits allowed in the state of Pennsylvania.
- Under 21 – If you’re under the age of 21, a BAC of 0.01% is illegal. If you’re pulled over and you test at this level or higher, it’s automatically considered to be illegal because you’re not allowed to be drinking at all. Pennsylvania has a zero tolerance policy on underage drinking.
- Under 18 – Any measurable sign of alcohol while driving a vehicle is illegal in the state of Pennsylvania if you’re under 18. If charges are filed, you’ll likely deal with the juvenile court system.
- Commercial Vehicle – If you’re driving a vehicle that requires a commercial license and you’re given a sobriety test, any level above 0.04% is considered illegal due to the nature of commercial driving.
- Repeat Offender – Varies depending on the situation. However, Pennsylvania has a 10-year lookback period, meaning any prior convictions related to DUI or DWI in the last 10 years can be taken into consideration when deciding what’s acceptable in your current situation.
Circumstantial DUI Laws in Pennsylvania
Aside from age restrictions, you’ll also face different sets of penalties based on your situation. Pennsylvania DUI laws assign different penalties to different drivers depending on how many offenses you’ve had in the past for driving under the influence or drunk driving.
If you’ve just received your first DUI conviction in Pennsylvania, here are some of the penalties you might be facing.
- Charged with an ungraded misdemeanor
- Probation up to six months.
- Fines up to $300.
- Mandatory attendance at an alcohol highway safety school
- Treatment when ordered
- IID is only required if you refuse the BAC test. Additionally, no license suspension will be imposed unless you refuse the BAC test, in which case a one-year suspension will go into effect.
After your second DUI conviction in Pennsylvania, you’ll be exposed to the following.
- Charged with an ungraded misdemeanor.
- License suspension of up to a year.
- Jail time ranging from five days to six months.
- Fines ranging from $300 to $2,500 (or up to $7,500 for high BAC levels).
- Mandatory attendance at an alcohol highway safety school.
- Treatment if ordered.
- IID installation for up to a year.
If you receive your third DUI charge or conviction in Pennsylvania, DUI laws state that you could face any combination of the following penalties.
- Charged with a second-degree misdemeanor
- License suspension of a year.
- Jail time ranging from 10 days to two years.
- Fines ranging from $500 to $5000.
- Treatment if ordered to attend.
- Mandatory IID installation of at least a year.
For drivers with more than three convictions in a 10-year period or with high BAC readings, the punishments are far stricter, more numerous, the fines are higher, and you may be faced with having your license permanently suspended.
Restricted Driving Privileges in Pennsylvania
Most DUI-related violations in Pennsylvania come with either a license suspension of some kind or an IID installation requirement. Either way, you might be wondering how you’re supposed to get to work and school or take your kids to the doctor if you have a suspended license. If it’s your first offense, Pennsylvania allows you to request a restricted license after serving 60 days of your original suspension. For your second and subsequent convictions, you’ll have to install an IID in each vehicle you’ll be driving. You may still have restrictions, but most programs allow you to go to work, school, and important appointments. Ask your attorney for the most up-to-date information as it pertains to the specifics of your case.
IID Installation in Pennsylvania
If you’ve been convicted of a DUI in Pennsylvania and you’re required to install an IID, that installation will be initiated by a court order. Once you have the court order you can go to a state-approved and registered service provider for your IID installation. Depending on your county and unique situation, your court order may require you to have an IID installation that comes with a DMV connection. Only a state-approved and registered service provider will be able to fulfill the court order and help you get back on track.
You will be responsible for any fees associated with an IID installation, so it’s important to go to a state-approved vendor. Otherwise, you will delay the entire process, and you might have to start the process all over again or face license revocation.
Just because you install an IID doesn’t mean you automatically have your driving privileges back, though. You’ll still have to go through legal proceedings that may or may not require you to obtain a special restricted driver’s license in order to drive.
While the information reflected here is current as of this writing, laws do change from time to time and unique circumstances may change the penalties and requirements that you’re subject to.