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FAQs about DUI arrests in Pennsylvania

On Behalf of | Apr 26, 2024 | DUI / Drunk Driving

Getting arrested for a DUI in Pennsylvania can be a confusing and daunting experience, especially if it’s your first encounter with the legal system regarding such an issue. Driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher can lead to a DUI charge, which carries serious consequences. In fact, there have been cases in which the police have charged people with DUI when their blood-alcohol levels were tested BELOW the legal limit. In these cases, the police claim that in their opinion the driver was incapable of safe driving.

Many drivers have questions about what happens during and after a DUI arrest. Understanding the answers to these questions can help individuals make more informed decisions if they find themselves in such a situation.

What is the legal BAC limit?

The legal limit for most drivers is a BAC of 0.08%. However, for commercial drivers, the limit is lower, at 0.04%. Drivers under the age of 21, who are subject to the state’s “zero tolerance” law, face penalties for any BAC of 0.02% or higher. Also, it is important to understand that under section 3802(a) of the Vehicle Code the police may charge DUI if the police have the OPINION that the driver is under the influence of alcohol to a degree which has rendered the driver incapable of safe driving.

What happens if you refuse a breath or blood test?

Pennsylvania has an “implied consent” law, which means that if you refuse to submit to a breath or blood test, you will face automatic penalties. These include a one-year driver’s license suspension for the first refusal. Subsequent refusals can lead to even longer suspensions and more severe penalties. The breath test DOES NOT include the portable, hand-held test used by the police at the scene of the car stop. “Breath Test” under these circumstances means a formal test at the police station using the large breathalyzer machine.  If you refuse the test, you will still be charged with DUI and there will be a presumption that the test was refused as the driver knew he or she would fail.

What are the penalties for a DUI?

The penalties for a DUI depend on the driver’s BAC level and whether they have previous DUI convictions. For a first-time offense with a BAC between 0.08% and 0.099%, penalties may include up to six months’ probation, a $300 fine, and mandatory attendance at an alcohol highway safety school. Penalties increase with higher BAC levels and repeat offenses, potentially including jail time, larger fines, and longer license suspensions. A 3rd DUI offense in the span of 10 years carries a mandatory jail sentence of one (1) year, possibly in a state prison.

Can you lose your license from a DUI arrest?

A DUI arrest can lead to driver’s license suspension. The length of the suspension depends on your BAC level and the number of prior offenses. First-time offenders may face a suspension, especially if their BAC is 0.10% or higher.

Knowing what to expect following a DUI arrest can help you navigate the process more effectively, which makes it easier to handle.