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DUI/DWI Information for Pennsylvania

Driving under influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated/impaired (DWI) is an offence committed when a driver operates a vehicle after the consumption of alcohol or drugs or other intoxicants. Increased alcohol levels in the driver's blood lead to diminished mental and motor reactions which, in turn, reduce the driver's ability to control the vehicle. This significantly increases the risk of the driver committing errors of judgment and often results in accidents causing severe injuries and even death.

In Pennsylvania, though the motor vehicle related fatalities on account of drunken driving are high, crashes were recorded at 12867and alcohol related deaths recorded at 535. Credit goes to the aggressive steps taken by Department of Transportation in Pennsylvania these numbers have been decreased by adding sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols. The total numbers of crashes have been reduced by 5.5% over the last year.

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REGULATIONS FOR DUI/DWI IN PENNSYLVANIA

In Pennsylvania, the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit is set at 0.08% for drivers above the legal age of driving. For commercial drivers and drivers under the age of 21 years, the tolerance limit of BAC has been reduced to 0.02%

Having a Pennsylvania license automatically provides your consent to be tested if stopped by a law enforcement officer, while driving. This is the law of "implied consent" and can be used by the officer to test you if you are stopped on the suspicion of drunk driving, either through a breathalyser test or by an actual blood or urine test to check the BAC. Refusing to take the chemical test will result in your license being revoked for a year.

Points will be added to your driving record and your license will be suspended or revoked, if you convicted of DUI/DWI. The number of points assessed, depend on the severity of the offense and the number of times you have been convicted for it.

ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR DRIVERS OVER 21:

If you are over 21 years old, and are caught with BAC higher than the set limit of 0.08%, you may be subjected to criminal actions in addition to administrative actions. If the DUI/DWI incident you are involved in is subjected to criminal action, it is recommended that you get in touch with a DUI/DWI lawyer as they are experts at handling such incidents and can offer you the best advice.

Pennsylvania has a tiered system for determining the BAC impairment and the penalty is based on the level of impairment. Impairment is considered general if the BAC is between 0.08% and 0.099%, high if it's between 0.10% and 0.159%, and highest if its 0.16% or higher.

  1. The first offense under general impairment may result in probation for up to 6 months and/or up to a $300 fine. In case of high impairment:
  2. The fine ranges between $500 and $5000.
  3. The license suspension period extends to 1 year.
  4. There could be an imprisonment period raging from 2 days to 6 months. In case of highest degree of impairment:
  5. The fine ranges from $1000 to $5000.
  6. The imprisonment period ranges between 3 days to 6 months.
  7. The license suspension period extends to 1 year. Also, if convicted for a first offence BAC or DWI (BAC over 0.08%) or for driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) you may be ordered to undergo alcohol and drug treatment along with attending an alcohol highway safety school.
  8. The second offense may result in imprisonment up to one 6 months and/or up to a $2500 fine. Also, if convicted for the second offense of DWI, DUID or BAC:
    • Your license will be revoked for 1 year.
    • The imprisonment period ranges from 5 days to 6 months.
    • An ignition interlock system would be in stalled in your vehicle for one year. In case of high impairment:
  9. The fine ranges between $750 and $5000.
  10. The imprisonment period ranges from 30 days to 6 months.
  11. Your license will be suspended for 1 year.
  12. An ignition interlock system is installed in your vehicle for one year. In case of highest degree of impairment:
  13. The fine ranges from $1500 to $10000.
  14. The imprisonment period ranges between 90 days and 5 years.
  15. The license suspension period extends to a year and a half.
  16. An ignition interlock system is installed in your vehicle for a period of 1 year.
  17. You are charged with a first degree misdemeanour. If convicted for a second offence BAC or DWI (BAC over 0.08%) or for driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) you may be ordered to undergo alcohol and drug treatment along with attending an alcohol highway safety school.
  18. The third offense is treated as a second degree misdemeanor and may result in fine up to a $5000. Also, if convicted for the third offense of DWI, DUID or BAC:
  19. Your license will be revoked for a year.
  20. The imprisonment period ranges between 10 days and 2 years.
  21. An ignition interlock system will be installed in your vehicle for one year. In case of high impairment:
  22. The fine ranges between $1500 and $10000.
  23. The imprisonment period ranges from 90 days to 5 years.
  24. The license suspension period extends to a year and a half.
  25. An ignition interlock system is installed in your vehicle for one year.
  26. You are charged with a first degree misdemeanor. In case of highest degree of impairment:
  27. The fine ranges from $2500 to $10000.
  28. The imprisonment period ranges between 1and 5 years.
  29. The license suspension period extends to a year and a half.
  30. An ignition interlock system is installed in your vehicle for a period of 1 year.
  31. You are charged with a first degree misdemeanor. If convicted for a third offence BAC or DWI (BAC over 0.08%) or for driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) you will be ordered to undergo alcohol and drug treatment along with attending an alcohol highway safety school.
  32. The fourth is treated as a first degree misdemeanor under high degree of impairment and may result in imprisonment for up to 5 years and/or a fine up to a $10000. Also, if convicted for the fourth offense of DWI, DUID or BAC:
  33. Your license will be revoked for a year and a half.
  34. An ignition interlock system is installed in your vehicle for a period of 1 year.

ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR DRIVERS UNDER 21

  1. If you are convicted for the "minor in possession/other alcohol offenses" law (trying to purchase, possessing or having purchased any intoxicant; or being intoxicated using alcohol, drugs or other intoxicants; or having a BAC higher than 0.02%) while driving, you may be charged with a fine of $ 500.
  2. The court may order a minor's license to be suspended for 3 months for the first conviction or revoked for one year for a second, and revoked for 2 years for a third conviction.
  3. You might be asked to enrol and complete a program of alcohol education, intervention or counselling.
  4. Apart from these actions, the adults might also be charged with financial penalties for knowingly and intentionally supplying alcohol to minors.
  5. Apart from these actions, penalties mentioned above for drivers over 21, may also apply to minors if they are convicted of DUI/DWI.

ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR COMMERCIAL VEHICLE DRIVERS

If you drive a commercial vehicle and hold a commercial driver license (CDL):
  1. The BAC is set at as low as 0.02% for you.
  2. You will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for at least 1 year, if you are convicted for the first time.
  3. You will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for life if you are convicted for any of these offenses for the second time.

ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI:

The immediate consequence if a test shows that your blood alcohol level is beyond the permissible limits is the revocation of your license. This is purely an administrative action and quite apart from any criminal charges and penalties that the courts decide. You will be given a temporary driving permit and you may request a hearing. It is a good idea to consult a DUI/DWI lawyer before you request an administrative hearing.

LICENSE REINSTATEMENT AFTER DUI/DWI SUSPENSION/REVOCATION:

If you are convicted of DUI/DWI, it will result in your license being suspended or revoked. This means that your driving privileges will be taken away and you will need to apply for a reinstatement of your license with the Department of Transportation, once the period of suspension or revocation is over. Reinstating a license after a suspension of a year, or revocation will also mean taking the driving tests all over again. These will include the vision test, knowledge test and the road test. If you do not complete the reinstatement requirements, the license will remain suspended or revoked.
  1. If your license has been suspended or revoked for 5 years or more, you first need to apply for a probationary license, which allows you to drive a non commercial vehicle between 6 am and 7 pm. The applicable fee is $85.25. A probationary license petition needs to be submitted for the same.
  2. To complete the reinstatement requirements, you must prove that you have successfully completed the alcohol and drug treatment program (the agency will send the proof to the DOT once you have completed the program) and pay the appropriate reinstatement fee.
  3. You can submit or mail the reinstatement application and fees at :
    PennDOT
    Bureau of Driver Licensing
    P.O. Box 68618
    Harrisburg, PA 17106-8618    

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

  • DUI/DWI has been a major cause of death and injury in our nation and it is our duty to prevent such needless pain and suffering. Simply: If you drink, DON'T DRIVE! If we all follow this rule to the letter - thousands of lives will be saved each year.
  • If you have been charged with a DUI/DWI get help from a DUI/DWI Lawyer.
  • See also Suspended License, Point System and Traffic Ticket Lawyers.
 

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