How long you go to jail for a DUI in Pennsylvania depends on the circumstances of the offense, but it could involve a sentence of up to five years. Punishments can vary according to:
- The amount of alcohol in your blood
- Whether it is your first offense
- Whether you were driving on a suspended license
- And other factors
There are also differences in legal limits for drinking. These depend on your age and if you are responsible for a commercial vehicle. Although there are some variations in legal limits, in Pennsylvania any blood alcohol content (BAC) above 0.08 percent is illegal.
DUI Laws in Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation considers drinking and driving to be a top issue for safety. There is strict sentencing for these offenses, and repeat offenders can be sentenced more heavily to act as a deterrent.
The legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limits in Pennsylvania are divided into the following tiers:
- General impairment:08-0.099 BAC
- High BAC:10-0.159 BAC
- Highest BAC:16 BAC and higher
Individuals who refuse a breath or chemical testing may be subject to the Highest BAC level penalties.
Under current Pennsylvania laws, these are the penalties you could face for DUI:
General Impairment (0.08 to 0.099 BAC)
- No previous DUI: no jail sentence, but a judge can impose fines, probation, or alcohol treatment orders.
- One prior DUI:five days to six months of jail time.
- Two or more prior DUIs: 10 days to two years in prison.
High BAC Penalties (0.10 to 0.159 BAC)
- No previous DUI: 48 hours to six months in prison.
- One prior DUI: 30 days to six months in prison.
- Two or more prior DUIs: 90 days to five years in prison.
- Three or more prior DUIs:one to five years in prison.
Highest BAC DUI (0.16 BAC and higher)
These penalties may also pertain to offenders who refuse a breath or chemical testing:
- No DUIs: 72 hours to six months in prison.
- One previous DUI: 90 days to five years in prison.
- Two or more prior DUIs: one to five years in prison.
Punishment for Underage DUI Offenders
Pennsylvania also takes a zero-tolerance approach to underage drinking and driving. A driver under the age of 21 with a BAC level of 0.02 or more could mean a jail term of 48 hours to six months, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
Changes to Pennsylvania DUI Laws
A 2018 change in Pennsylvania laws means that a DUI can now lead to a felony charge. The state introduced this legislation as a deterrent for repeat offenders, with jail time increasing with each DUI conviction. The police may charge you with a felony if your BAC was 0.16 or more and it is your third conviction. A fourth conviction will also amount to a felony.
Under this change in law, drivers convicted of a second DUI face a minimum of 90 days in jail, while a third conviction could lead to a six-month jail sentence.
Jail Time Is Not the Only Consequence of DUI
DUI offenders in Pennsylvania face more penalties than just jail time. Depending on the severity of the DUI and the number of prior convictions, a judge can order mandatory:
- Driver’s license suspension
- Fines ranging from $300 to $10,000
- Alcohol highway safety school
- Alcohol rehabilitation treatment
- Use of an ignition interlock system, also known as an in-car Breathalyzer
Some DUI convictions in Pennsylvania will also appear in the offender’s criminal background checks, credit scores, insurance history, and driver’s license history.
Get Advice From a Pennsylvania DUI Legal Team
The consequences of a DUI can be severe. A DUI can result in significant fines, prison time, and license suspension, which could affect your ability to get to work. If you are facing a DUI charge, you may want to consult a lawyer at the earliest stages to act as your representative.
Attorney David McKenzie may be able to advocate on your behalf. This could mean staying out of jail, keeping your license, obtaining a limited license, or keeping your record clean. To find out more, call McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. at (610) 680-7842 and ask to speak to a member of the team.
McKenzie Law Firm, P.C. is communicative and accessible to our clients. Once you sign on as a client, we are available to communicate via phone, text message, email, and social media as your case proceeds.