DUI Rules & Regulations
May 26, 2016
Notable changes in DUI penalties in the State of Pennsylvania demand attention from drunk drivers. At Logue Law Group, our expertise allows us to closely track these updates, revealing an unfavorable outlook for those who choose to drink and drive recklessly. It is important to recognize that even the influence of certain prescription drugs, when prescribed by a doctor, can result in a DUI charge. Stay informed to stay safe.
October 3, 2017
In August 2017, Pennsylvania implemented significant changes to its DUI laws, specifically targeting first-time offenders. Now, individuals charged with their initial DUI offense are required to install a special device in their vehicles. This device actively measures their Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) before permitting ignition. Offenders are responsible for bearing the cost of this ignition interlock device, which analyzes the driver’s breath and only allows vehicle activation if the BAC remains below the legal limit of .08%. Additionally, the device provides multiple attempts for accuracy, allowing a five-minute hold if the initial BAC is too high, and triggering a thirty-minute lockout period after a second unsuccessful attempt.
Not only are first-time DUI offenders required to install the device, but they are also granted permission to drive to work with an ignition interlock license. This license is valid for a year, during which time the device must remain installed in their vehicle. The installation of the ignition interlock device is conducted by approved PennDOT mechanics and costs approximately $100 per year.
Previously, a first-time DUI conviction resulted in an automatic year-long suspension of the driver’s license. However, under the new law, individuals who refuse to submit to a blood-alcohol test during their initial offense have the option to install the interlock device. After serving a six-month license suspension, regardless of its original duration, they can regain their driving privileges. Prior to this change, refusing a blood-alcohol test led to a suspension period ranging from one to 18 months.
To prevent any attempts to trick the system, the device now conducts random tests while the vehicle is in motion, with the driver present. This “rolling re-test” ensures the integrity of the process.
In the past, ignition interlock devices were primarily used for repeat DUI offenders. However, with Pennsylvania’s recent DUI legislation amendments, even first-time offenders are now subject to the installation of these devices. These changes aim to enhance safety on the roads and discourage drunk driving incidents.
The change in the law has been primarily motivated by the large number of individuals whose job security was compromised due to suspended licenses. These individuals faced challenges finding transportation to work, which resulted in lost employment opportunities, reduced working hours, and financial hardships. Consequently, many resorted to driving with suspended licenses, further exacerbating their legal and financial burdens.
Moreover, beyond the scope of livelihood and financial concerns, parents whose licenses were suspended due to DUI offenses often experienced the heartbreak of missing out on family events and being unable to actively participate in their children’s activities.
Update July 1, 2019:
We have some important updates regarding DUI laws in Pennsylvania that took effect on December 23, 2018, just in time for Christmas Eve.
For individuals facing a third High-DUI offense, the consequences are now more severe. A conviction for a High-DUI offense, where blood alcohol content reaches 0.16 percent or higher, could result in a felony charge.
Similarly, those who face a fourth or subsequent DUI will also be subject to the same charges.
In the tragic event of causing a fatality while driving under the influence, individuals may face a first-degree felony, accompanied by an additional five years of prison time.
Additionally, driving without a license and committing aggravated assault will lead to increased penalties. Specifically, the prison term for aggravated assault is extended by two years.
The new law also imposes higher fines and jail terms for driving under suspension resulting from a previous DUI. For a first offense, the conviction carries a minimum of $500 in fines and a maximum of 60 days in jail. A second offense mandates a minimum jail term of 90 days, coupled with a $1,000 fine.
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