Understanding PA DUI Laws

Many Pennsylvanians are under the misconception that a motorist can only be charged with a DUI if the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level is above .08 percent. Normally DUI charges occur this way, but there are several other conditions that can lead to a DUI arrest. If a law enforcement officer determines that alcohol has rendered a driver incapable of safe driving, the driver can be charged with DUI with a BAC lower than .08%. Combinations of drugs and a BAC of less than .08% can lead to a DUI arrest. Additionally, any drug alone or in combination with others, making a driver unsafe on the highways and traffic ways of the Commonwealth, can lead to a DUI arrest, even when there is no alcohol in the driver’s system at all.

Pennsylvania DUI law provides for minimum penalties for those convicted of DUI based upon BAC and number of DUI offenses within a 10-year period. (Review a chart outlining penalties based upon BAC and prior offenses by clicking here

First offenders with a BAC of .10% or higher and ALL multiple offenders will incur a suspension of driving privileges for at least one year. Alcohol Highway Safety School is required for all first and second offenders. Many offenders are mandated by the Court to complete treatment. All repeat offenders are required to install Ignition Interlock on their vehicles following a period of license suspension. PennDOT can provide information on Ignition Interlock.

Some first time offenders may qualify for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program (ARD). This program gives the offender an opportunity to receive a dismissal of the DUI charge through the expungement process after successful completion of Court-ordered requirements. An offender shall only be granted acceptance into this program one time, and future offenses will be prosecuted in succession of how they occurred. (Ex: next offense after ARD participation counts as second offense.) Check with your county's District Attorney's Office for information regarding participation in the ARD program. Click on the image above for the District Attorney of Lancaster County.