Pennsylvania DUI ArrestIf you’ve been arrested for a DUI charge in Pennsylvania then you likely have a long list of questions:

  • What are the laws about drunk driving in PA?
  • What are the penalties for a DUI conviction?
  • Is it legal to refuse a breathalyzer?
  • Can I challenge a DUI arrest?

The legislation that deals with intoxicated driving in Pennsylvania is set forth in Chapter 38 under Title 75 of the Pennsylvania Code (75 Pa.C.S.A. § 38).

To read the full text of PA’s drunk driving laws, click here.

Driving Under The Influence In Pennsylvania

The beginning of PA’s drunk driving law states that:

“An individual may not drive, operate or be in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle after imbibing a sufficient amount of alcohol such that the individual is rendered incapable of safely driving, operating or being in actual physical control of the movement of the vehicle.”

In other words, an individual is not permitted to operate a vehicle in Pennsylvania after consuming too much alcohol.

How Much Alcohol Is Too Much Alcohol?

When it comes to driving in PA, the legal limit of alcohol depends on the “type” of driver:

For General Motorists

According to the law, general motorists (age 21+) are not permitted to operate a vehicle in Pennsylvania with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more.

For Commercial Vehicle Drivers

The legal limit is much stricter for individuals operating a commercial vehicle in PA. Commercial vehicle drivers are considered to be over the legal limit with a BAC of .04% or more.

For School Bus Drivers

The legal limit for school bus drivers is also much lower than it is for general motorists. School bus drivers cannot legally drive with a BAC of .02% or more.

For Minors (Under 21)

Pennsylvania has a “zero tolerance” policy for minors.  Individuals under the age of 21 can be charged with a DUI if they are found to be driving with a BAC of .02% or more.

To learn more about underage DUI laws, click here.

The 3 Types Of DUI in PA

Not all DUIs are created equally in the State of Pennsylvania.

Many people are aware of the fact that they can be arrested for DUI if they are driving a vehicle while they have a BAC of .08% or more. 

However, what differentiates Pennsylvania’s drunk driving laws from those of many other states is the fact that there are three different types of DUIs:

1.) General Impairment DUI (BAC of .08 – .099%)

The first type of DUI is called a general impairment DUI.  An individual is charged with a general impairment DUI if he or she is arrested for intoxicated driving after consuming a sufficient amount of alcohol… 

“…such that the alcohol concentration in the individual’s blood or breath is at least 0.08% but less than 0.10% within two hours after the individual has driven.”

2.) DUI With High Rate of Alcohol (BAC of .10% – .159%)

The second type of DUI in Pennsylvania is called a DUI with a high rate of alcohol. An individual will be charged with this type of DUI if he or she is arrested for intoxicated driving after consuming too much alcohol…

…such that the alcohol concentration in the individual’s blood or breath is at least 0.10% but less than 0.16% within two hours after the individual has driven.”

3.) DUI With Highest Rate of Alcohol (BAC of .16%+ or Controlled Substance)

The third type of DUI, known as a DUI with highest rate of alcohol, is when an individual is arrested for intoxicated driving after consuming too much alcohol…

…such that the alcohol concentration in the individual’s blood or breath is 0.16% or higher within two hours after the individual has driven.”

Additionally, drivers who are found to be driving under the influence of a controlled substance are typically charged with this type of DUI.

What Are The Penalties & Fines For A Drunk Driving Conviction?

Pennsylvania DUI Penalties

The standard penalties associated with a DUI charge in Pennsylvania will vary depending on several factors.

A few things that can affect the penalties that you face after a DUI arrest include the type of DUI you are being charged with, the number of previous DUI convictions you’ve had, and the criminal defense lawyer (if any) that you hire.

Penalties For A First Offense

If you have not been convicted of a DUI within the past ten years then you will be facing a first offense DUI charge.

The specific set of penalties that you will face depend on the type of DUI you are being charged with.

If you are being charged with a General Offense DUI (.08% – .099% BAC) for the first time, you could be facing:

  • Up to 6 months of probation
  • $350+ in fines and fees
  • Mandatory highway alcohol safety school
  • Possible drug / alcohol treatment (if court-ordered)
  • Possible community service (if court-ordered)

If you are being charged with a DUI with High Impairment (.10% – .159% BAC) for the first time then you could face:

  • 1 year of license suspension and ignition interlock device (IID)
  • Between 2 days and 6 months in prison
  • Between $500 to $5,000 in fines and fees
  • Mandatory highway alcohol safety school
  • Possible drug / alcohol treatment (if court-ordered)
  • Possible community service (if court-ordered)

If charged with a DUI with Highest Impairment (.16% and higher BAC) or DUI with a controlled substance for the first time then you could face:

  • 1 year license suspension and 1 year with ignition interlock device (IID)
  • Between 3 days and 6 months in prison
  • Between $1,000 to $5,000 in fines and fees
  • Mandatory highway alcohol safety school
  • Possible drug / alcohol treatment (if court-ordered)
  • Possible community service (if court-ordered)

To learn more about the laws and penalties associated with a first offense, visit the “First Time DUI Offense” page.

Penalties For Repeat Offenses

The penalties are intentionally harsher for individuals who are convicted of multiple DUI offenses.

Depending on the type of DUI you are being charged with and the number of previous DUI convictions you’ve had, you could face a number of serious consequences including thousands of dollars in fines, a lengthy prison sentence, license suspension and much more.

To learn more about the laws and penalties associated with a repeat offense, visit the “2nd, 3rd And More DUI Charges” page.

Can I Refuse A Breathalyzer Or Chemical Test In PA?

Pennsylvania Breathalyzer / DUI LawsPennsylvania has an implied consent law when it comes to intoxicated driving. This means that by driving a vehicle in Pennsylvania, you agree to submit to a chemical test if an officer asks you to so.

If you refuse to submit to a breath, blood or urine test when asked to do so, you will face penalties associated with the highest tier of DUI in Pennsylvania.

It is important to note, however, that the officer is required to inform you of the implied consent law and the consequences of refusing to submit to a chemical test.

To read the Pennsylvania’s entire implied consent law, click here.