DUI Rules & Regulations
MAY 26, 2016
Attention Drunk Drivers! Brace yourself for some significant changes in DUI penalties in the State of Pennsylvania. As experts at Logue Law Group carefully monitor these updates, the outlook doesn’t seem promising for those who make the reckless decision to drink and drive. It’s worth noting that even the influence of certain prescription drugs, when prescribed by your doctor, can lead to a DUI charge.
October 3, 2017
Effective August 2017, Pennsylvania introduced noteworthy changes to its DUI laws, putting first-time offenders in the spotlight. Now, individuals facing their initial DUI offense must install a special device in their vehicles. This device actively checks for Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) before allowing the ignition to start. Offenders bear the cost of this ignition interlock device, which examines the breath of the driver and permits vehicle activation only when the BAC is below the legal limit of .08%. Moreover, the device provides multiple attempts for accuracy. If the BAC is too high on the first try, the ignition interlock holds it for five minutes. A second unsuccessful attempt triggers a thirty-minute lockout period.
In addition to installing the device, first-time DUI offenders are granted permission to drive to work, provided they possess an ignition interlock license. The device must remain installed for a year in their vehicle. Approved PennDOT mechanics are responsible for installing the ignition interlock, which costs approximately $100 per year.
Previously, a first-time DUI conviction automatically resulted in a year-long driver’s license suspension. Under the new law, individuals who refuse to submit to a blood-alcohol test during their first offense can install the interlock device and regain driving privileges after serving a six-month license suspension, regardless of its original duration. Previously, this action led to a suspension of anywhere between one to 18 months.
Moreover, to counter any attempts of cheating the system, the device now performs random tests while the vehicle is in motion, with the driver behind the wheel. This “rolling re-test” fortifies the integrity of the process.
In the past, ignition interlock devices were exclusively reserved for repeat DUI offenders. However, with the recent changes in Pennsylvania’s DUI legislation, even first-time offenders are subject to the installation of these devices.
The change in the law has been strongly driven by the significant number of individuals whose job security was compromised due to suspended licenses. Lost employment opportunities or reduced working hours resulting from the inability to find transportation to work caused offenders to face financial hardships, leaving them unable to pay fines or support their families. Consequently, many resorted to driving with suspended licenses, exacerbating their legal and financial burdens.
Furthermore, beyond the scope of livelihood and financial concerns, parents whose licenses were suspended due to DUI offenses often experienced the unfortunate absence from family events and were 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 could result in a felony charge. A High-DUI offense is determined when a person’s blood alcohol content reaches 0.16 percent or higher.
Similarly, those who face a fourth or subsequent DUI will also be subject to the same charges.
In the event that a person causes a fatality while driving under the influence, they may face a first-degree felony, accompanied by an additional five years of prison time.
Furthermore, 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 brings 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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