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Pennsylvania's new DUI Laws

Pennsylvania, like many states, takes DUI seriously. It has recently enacted stricter and more specific laws than those that came before. The definitions of driving under the influence have been tightened and the consequences made harsher. Sometimes, these laws are updated; the ones listed here are current as of 2017, except as noted below.

DUI Tiers

Pennsylvania has three DUI tiers, or levels, all of which are based on a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC). BAC tests can be given via breath tests, blood tests, or urine tests. Blood tests must be given within two hours of having operated or driven the car. The tiers and their consequences are as follows:

  • General Impairment: A person whose Blood Alcohol Concentration is .08 to .09 percent will be charged with General Impairment; punishments include incarceration of up to six months and fines of up to $300. With this amount of alcohol in a person’s system, they likely are unable to maintain physical control of their car and be able to operate it, and are considered to be intoxicated.
  • High BAC: When a person’s Blood Alcohol Concentration is .10 to .159 percent; punishments include incarceration of two days to six months, a year-long license suspension, and fines anywhere from $500 to $5,000. With this amount of alcohol in a person’s system, they are unable to maintain physical control of their car and be able to operate it, and are considered to be highly intoxicated.
  • Highest BAC: A person who tests show has a Blood Alcohol Concentration of .016 percent or higher will face Highest DUI charges; punishments that come with conviction are time in jail ranging from 72 hours to six months, a 12-month license suspension, and fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. With this amount of alcohol in a person’s system, they are unable to maintain physical control of their car and be able to operate it, and are considered to be extremely intoxicated.
Minors and DUI

In Pennsylvania DUI law, anyone under the age of 21 is considered to be a minor. The legal drinking age is 21; no one younger than that is legally allowed to drink alcoholic beverages. There is zero tolerance in the state of Pennsylvania for the consumption of alcohol by minors. For those under the age of 21, the legal BAC limit is 0.02 percent. Since drinking is illegal for minors, a minor may face additional charges if arrested for DUI. If convicted, a minor can lose their driver’s license for up to three months, and be required to pay fines. If a minor’s BAC is higher than 0.02 percent, there will be additional consequences administered. Though the legal limit for minors is 0.02 percent, if a minor is found to have any alcohol at all in their system, they can be charged with DUI.

Refusing Blood, Urine, or Breath Tests

When you got your driver’s license in Pennsylvania, you gave implied consent to blood, urine, or breath tests, which measure the amount of alcohol in your system. When an officer stops you because of a traffic issue and has reason to believe you have been drinking, he will request the testing be done. Currently, the law states that if you refuse any of the tests, you are breaking the law and your driver’s license will be suspended for a year. New laws are expected to be drawn up in regards to DUI testing based on a Supreme Court decision in 2016 that declared breath tests to be an allowable search of a person, but said that blood tests are not.

What do I do if I’m Charged With a DUI?

If someone you know has been charged with Driving Under the Influence, they will need a criminal defense attorney experienced in handling similar cases. The Logue Criminal Defense team has attorneys with hundreds of DUI cases under their belts. Logue Law Group serves Pittsburgh, the surrounding areas, West Virginia, and Ohio. Call today to schedule a free initial consultation. 1-844-PITT-DUI or (412) 389-0805. We can also be contacted online.

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