Pennsylvania DUI 101

The penalties for a Pennsylvania DUI are more severe than the statutes carried out in many other states. To determine how much alcohol it takes to be considered intoxicated under state law, you must refer to the blood alcohol level (BAC) chart. One drink is considered one beer, one 3-ounce glass of wine and one shot or an ounce of hard liquor.

Pennsylvania DUI: First, Second and Third Offenses

For a a first-time Pennsylvania DUI offense, no minimum jail time is required, but fines and penalties totaling $300 may be ordered by the court. There is no license suspension, but an interlock ignition device must be installed in the driver’s automobile if the chemical test is refused.

For a second-time offense, minimum jail time can range from five days to six months with fines and penalties ranging from $300 to $2,500. There is a license suspension of 12 months, and an interlock ignition device may be installed during the 12-month period when the driver’s license is suspended, depending on the driver’s BAC level.

For a third offense, the driver faces anywhere from 10 days to two years in jail. Fines and penalties range from $500 to $5,000, and the driver’s license is suspended for 12 months. An interlock ignition device may be required during the period in which the driver’s license is suspended, depending on the driver’s BAC level.

Pennsylvania has a series of penalty tiers. These tiers, based on a driver’s BAC at the time of their chemical test, determine whether the interlock ignition device will be installed in the driver’s vehicle and are as follows: .08 percent BAC, .10 to .159 percent, and .16 percent or higher.

Look Back Period

Pennsylvania courts adhere to what is known as a “look back period.” This term refers to the period of time in which a previous DUI conviction took place. Generally, the longer the length of time in between DUI convictions, the lesser the driver’s sentence will be, but not always. The idea is that drivers who are convicted of driving while under the influence in short periods of time – say, less than 10 years – are more likely to commit future offenses, and therefore, should be punished more harshly.

Refusal to Take a Chemical Test

In Pennsylvania there are penalties if you refuse to take a chemical test. Known as the implied consent law, drivers are required to take a chemical test when suspected of driving while under the influence of alcohol. Refusal to take a chemical test will result in a fine and automatic license suspension. The law breaks down as follows: For the first offense, a driver who refuses to take the chemical test will receive a one-year license suspension. For a second offense, a driver who refuses to take the chemical test will receive an 18-month license suspension. The same goes for the third offense.

Plea Deals

In Pennsylvania you cannot plead to a lesser offense than DUI. A plea bargain for a conviction of reckless driving involving alcohol is not allowed by statute in Pennsylvania.


If you are convicted of driving while under the influence, your insurance provider may provide you with an SSR-22. The form is filed in by your insurance company after a license suspension and demonstrates that you meet certain insurance requirements to begin operating a vehicle again.

Limited License

Pennsylvania does grant limited driving privileges to DUI offenders who need their vehicle for transportation to and from work, school or other approved locations. You must apply for an Occupational Limited License in writing. To do so, complete Form DL-15, and send it along with your proof of insurance and fee payment to the address printed on the form.

DUI School

Online as well as traditional alcohol highway safety courses are available across the state. To meet Pennsylvania guidelines, alcohol highway safety courses must take no less than 12.5 hours to complete. Expect to pay around $200 to $225. Courses are structured around a standardized curriculum to teach Pennsylvania DUI offenders about the dangers of alcohol use and driving.