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Pennsylvania blood alcohol limits and punishment tiers

In 2003, the legal blood alcohol limit in Pennsylvania was lowered from .10 to .08. The law also created tiers for punishment and treatment regarding driving under the influence (DUI.) It takes into account a Defendant's DUI offense history, rather than simply applying an across the board sentence and license suspension or revocation.

There are three levels of DUI. The first is general impairment and covers a blood alcohol limit of .08 percent to .99 percent. In this category, if the driver has no prior DUI convictions, the sentence will be considered an ungraded misdemeanor which will carry six months on probation and a $300 fine. If the driver has one prior DUI conviction, the sentence will still be an ungraded misdemeanor, but will also include a 12-month license suspension, a $300 to $2,500 fine, and some additional requirements. If the driver has 2 or more priors, the charge will be considered a second-degree misdemeanor with a 12-month license suspension, a $500 to $5,000 fine, and multiple other requirement.

The second level of DUI is High BAC. This covers a blood alcohol level of .10 percent to .159 percent. Sentences in this category include higher fines, longer license suspensions and/or jail time, and upgraded misdemeanors up to and including first degree. Again, the number, if any, of prior convictions determines the severity of a sentence.

The third and final level of DUI is Highest BAC which covers a blood alcohol level of .16 percent or higher. In addition, drivers who refuse a chemical or breath sobriety test, or injure another person or property are automatically charged at this level. These charges almost always involve some jail time as well as incorporate mandatory treatment.

A DUI attorney can help you navigate the process of dealing with any of these charges, as well as make sure you are fairly treated and sentenced in the correct category.

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