Understanding PA’s drunk driving laws, as well as your legal rights after a DUI arrest, can help you to make informed decisions about how to best proceed with your case.

Our Pennsylvania DUI lawyers have created a helpful list of DUI-related questions and answers below:

How Does Pennsylvania Define Driving Under The Influence?

While driving after consuming alcohol is not necessarily illegal, driving after consuming too much alcohol is.

The State of Pennsylvania has a “legal limit” of alcohol which is measured by blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Drivers who are found to be operating a vehicle with a BAC equal to or above the legal limit are considered to be driving under the influence and can be charged with DUI.

The legal limit depends on the “type” of driver that is at the wheel:

  • General Motorists – 0.08% BAC or more
  • Commercial Vehicle Drivers 0.04% BAC or more
  • School Bus Drivers – 0.02% BAC or more
  • Minors (Under 21) –  0.02% BAC or more

To read more about PA’s legal limit and other DUI laws in Pennsylvania, click here.

Are There Really Three Types of DUIs In Pennsylvania?

Yes – Pennsylvania has a three-tiered system when it comes to DUI charges and the associated penalties.

The type of DUI that an individual is charged with depends on that individual’s alleged level of BAC when he or she was driving:

  • General Impairment DUI: A General Impairment DUI is charged when a standard driver (21 years or older) is arrested for driving under the influence with a BAC of 0.08% – 0.099%. Additionally, an individual may be charged with a General Impairment DUI even without a BAC if sufficient evidence exists that the individual consumed too much alcohol to safely operate a vehicle.


  • DUI With High Impairment:  A DUI With High Impairment is when a general motorist is arrested for intoxicated driving with a BAC of 0.10 – 0.159%. Additionally, minors (under 21 years old) who are arrested for drunk driving with a BAC of 0.02% – 0.159% will be charged with this type of DUI.


  • DUI With Highest Impairment: An individual is charged with DUI With Highest Impairment if he or she is arrested for drunk driving with a BAC of 0.16% or more. Additionally, a driver who is found to be driving under the influence of drugs will be charged with this type of DUI.

What Are The Consequences / Penalties Of A DUI Conviction?

A DUI conviction can result in serious consequences and penalties. In fact, drunk driving laws in Pennsylvania dictate standard minimum penalties for a DUI conviction.

The standard penalties for a DUI conviction can vary significantly depending on the number of previous DUI offenses that you may have, as well as the type of DUI you are being charged with.

To learn more about the potential consequences of a DUI conviction in Pennsylvania, click here.

What Happens After A DUI?

If you’ve been arrested for DUI then you probably want to know what happens next.

The DUI process can seem long, confusing and stressful at first.

Depending on how far your DUI case goes, the process can include many stages including:

  • Booking procedures
  • Preliminary hearing
  • Formal arraignment
  • DUI trial

To learn more about what happens when you are arrested for DUI, click here.

Can I Refuse A Breathalyzer or Chemical Test?

The short answer is: NO.

Pennsylvania has an implied consent law which means that you implicitly agree to submit to tests that are meant to estimate your blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

In other words, by driving a vehicle in Pennsylvania you are agreeing to subject yourself to a chemical test (breath, blood or urine) to determine your level of intoxication if a police officer asks you to do so.

Technically speaking, you “could” refuse to submit to a chemical test, but by doing so you will face serious penalties even if you are not convicted of a DUI in the end.

What Is An Underage DUI?

The drinking age in the State of Pennsylvania is 21 and anyone under the age of 21 is considered to be underage.

Additionally, Pennsylvania has a “zero tolerance” policy for underage drinking and driving.

Anyone driver under the age of 21 who is found to be driving with a BAC of 0.02% or higher is considered to be driving under the influence and can be arrested for underage DUI.

Read more about underage DUI in Pennsylvania here.