According to Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation, the state’s drunk driving laws are designed to focus on treatment for first-time offenders rather than just punishment. However, with 407 drunk driving-related fatalities in 2011, or 32 percent of total traffic deaths that year, the state might be taking the wrong approach. Mothers Against Drunk Driving has been working for years to convince lawmakers in Pennsylvania to pass a law that would require all drunk driving offenders, including first-time offenders, to install an ignition interlock, a device proven to significantly reduce repeat offenses and drunk driving-related fatalities. However, the device is still only required for repeat offenders.
Anyone who operates a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher in Pennsylvania is charged with driving under the influence (DUI). Pennsylvania’s DUI law takes a tiered approach, which means there are three levels of DUI:
- General Impairment: 0.08 to 0.099 BAC
- High BAC: 0.10 to 0.159 BAC
- Highest BAC: 0.16 and higher
Consequences for all levels can include a fine, jail time, driver’s license suspension, alcohol treatment, and alcohol highway traffic safety school. Consequences for General Impairment include:
- 1st Conviction: $300 fine; up to 6 months probation
- 2nd Conviction: $300 to $2,500 fine; 5 days to 6 months in jail; 12-month license suspension
- 3rd and Subsequent Convictions: $500 to $5,000 fine; 10 days to 2 years in jail; 12-month license suspension
Consequences increase with a High BAC DUI and again with a Highest BAC DUI. For example, a first-time offender convicted of a High BAC DUI would face a $500 to $5,000 fine, 48 hours to 6 months in jail, and a 12-month license suspension. With a Highest BAC DUI conviction, the minimum fine and jail time would increase to $1,000 and 72 hours, respectively.
Ignition Interlock Laws
All repeat DUI offenders must install an ignition interlock device in all of their owned or leased vehicles in order to have their driving privileges restored. Offenders must keep the device installed for one year.