Pennsylvania DUI Chart: Laws & Penalties

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In Pennsylvania, driving under the influence (DUI) is defined as driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent and above. The state has three levels of DUI charges: general impairment, for DUIs involving a 0.08 to 0.099 percent BAC; high BAC, for DUIs involving a 0.10 to 0.159 percent BAC; and highest BAC, for DUIs involving a BAC of 0.16 or above. There are unique penalties for first, second, third and subsequent offenses at each level.

Is a DUI a Misdemeanor?

A DUI is categorized as an ungraded misdemeanor when it is a first offense for general impairment, high BAC or highest BAC DUI. In Pennsylvania, a misdemeanor is categorized as ungraded so the legislature can mandate a penalty specific to the offense. This allows a DUI offense categorized as an ungraded misdemeanor to have a different penalty than manufacture of an unadulterated drug, for example.

A second offense for general impairment DUI or a second high BAC DUI is also an ungraded misdemeanor. A second offense for highest BAC DUI is a first-degree misdemeanor, the most serious criminal misdemeanor charge in Pennsylvania. The penalties for an offender convicted of a first-degree misdemeanor include fewer than five years of incarceration and a fine between $1,500 and $10,000, according to PCS Chapter 38.

A third or subsequent offense for general impairment DUI is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by less than two years of incarceration and a fine between $500 and $5,000. A third or subsequent offense for high BAC DUI is a first-degree misdemeanor, and a third or subsequent offense for highest BAC DUI is also a first-degree misdemeanor.

Penalties for a First DUI

Penalties for a first general impairment DUI include a $300 fine, alcohol highway safety school, treatment when ordered, and up to six months on probation, according to Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes (PCS) Chapter 38.

Penalties for a first high BAC DUI include between two days and six months in jail; a fine between $500 and $5,000; one-year driver’s license suspension; alcohol highway safety school; and treatment when ordered.

Penalties for a first highest BAC DUI include between three days and six months in jail; a fine between $1,000 and $5,000; alcohol highway safety school; one-year driver’s license suspension; and treatment when ordered.

Penalties for a Second Offense DUI

Penalties for a second general impairment DUI include between five days and six months of jail time; a fine between $300 and $2,500; one-year driver’s license suspension; alcohol highway safety school; treatment when ordered; and one-year installation of an ignition interlock device (IID).

Penalties for a second high BAC DUI include between 30 days and six months in jail; a fine between $750 and $5,000; one-year driver’s license suspension; alcohol highway safety school; treatment when ordered; and one-year installation of an IID.

Penalties for a second highest BAC DUI include between 90 days and five years of incarceration; a fine between $1,500 and $10,000; 18-months driver’s license suspension; alcohol highway safety school treatment when ordered; and one-year installation of an IID.

Penalties for a Third Offense DUI

Penalties for a third or subsequent general impairment DUI include between 10 days and two years of incarceration; a fine between $500 and $5,000; a 12-month license suspension; alcohol highway safety school; treatment when ordered; and one-year IID installation.

Penalties for a third high BAC DUI include between 90 days and five years of incarceration; a fine between $1,500 and $10,000; alcohol highway safe driving school; treatment when ordered; 18-month driver’s license suspension; and one year IID installation.

Penalties for a fourth or subsequent high BAC DUI include between one and five years of incarceration, as well as the standard penalties for a third high BAC DUI. Penalties for a third or subsequent highest BAC DUI include between one to five years of incarceration; a fine between $2,500 and $15,000; 18-month license suspension; alcohol highway safety school; treatment when ordered; and one-year IID installation.

Additional Penalties for Pennsylvania DUIs

Additional penalties for all types of DUIs include mandatory attendance at a victim impact panel (VIP), according to PCS Chapter 38. After an arrest for DUI, the driver may also have to pay the cost of a vehicle tow and a per-day impound fee. There are also fees for alcohol evaluation and treatment, and the alcohol highway safety school.

Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program (ARD)

A first-time offender may be eligible to participate in the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program, according to Montgomery County’s ARD program. The ARD program typically requires a fee between $1,000 and $1,800. The applicant must be placed on probation, pay fines and costs, and complete community service. Upon successful completion of the ARD program, the applicant can petition the court to expunge their record.

Special DUI Courts

DUI courts are specialty treatment courts available to defendants in certain counties in Pennsylvania. They are not available in every county, according to the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania on DUI courts. The list of counties with DUI courts includes Philadelphia County, home to the city of Philadelphia, and Allegheny County, home to the city of Pittsburgh.

As an example, Allegheny County’s DUI court is designed for people who have been charged with two or more DUI arrests, according to Allegheny County. An individual accepted to this county’s DUI court program must plead guilty to all charges related to their DUI offense. The DUI offender may see their sentence, including their penalties, lowered if they are fully compliant with the program.

Pennsylvania Occupational Limited Licenses (OLLs)

Offenders without any prior DUI convictions may be eligible for an Occupational Limited License after they serve 60 days of their driver’s license suspension. An OLL allows an individual whose driving privilege has been, or will be, suspended to drive a designated motor vehicle for their occupation, work, trade, medical treatment or study, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation on OLLs.

An individual whose driver’s license has been suspended for 18 months for a DUI or for refusing breath or chemical tests, and who has no more than one prior offense, may be eligible for an OLL with installation of an IID. This is true when the individual has served one year of their driver’s license suspension. A first-time underage drinking violator may also be eligible for an OLL, according to PennDOT Driver & Vehicle Services on DUIs.

Underage DUI Laws in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s zero tolerance law is meant to decrease the number of impaired drivers who are minors under 21. The zero tolerance law reduces the BAC legal limit for minors to 0.02 percent, according to PCS Chapter 38. Penalties for a first underage DUI conviction include between two days and six months in jail; a fine between $500 and $5,000; alcohol highway safety school; treatment if ordered; community service if ordered; and a driver’s license suspension between one year and 18 months.

Penalties for a second underage DUI include an increase of the driver’s license suspension to one year in addition to the other regular penalties for a first underage offense. Penalties for a third or subsequent underage DUI include an increase of the driver’s license suspension to two years, as well as the other regular penalties for a first underage offense.

Penalties for general impairment DUIs in Pennsylvania (DUI between 0.08 and 0.099 BAC)

1st DUI

2nd DUI

3rd DUI

Incarceration

None, but six months' probation

Five days to six months

10 days to two years

Fine

$300

$300 to $2,500

$500 to $5,000

IID

No action

One year

One year

Driver's License Penalty

No action

One-year driver's license suspension

One-year driver's license suspension

PENNDOT Driver & Vehicle Services: 0.08 DUI Legislation, https://www.dmv.pa.gov/Information-Centers/Laws-Regulations/pages/dui-legislation.aspx