Pennsylvania DUI Laws & Penalties

Like most states, Pennsylvania has a legal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit of .08% for drivers who are 21 years or older. If you are under 21 years old, then you fall under the state's Zero Tolerance Policy, which allows minors to be charged with a DUI for having a BAC of just .02%.

DUI Penalties for Minors in Pennsylvania

The penalties for minors differ from the ones adults face, but they are still severe.

OffenseLicense SuspensionJail TimeFinesCommunity Service
1st12 months2–6 days$500–$5,000Up to 150 hours
2nd12 months30 days to 6 months$750–$5,000Up to 150 hours
3rd18 months90 days to 5 years$1,500–$10,000Up to 150 hours

In addition to the penalties listed in the chart above, you could also face up to a 150 hours of community service. For a second or third offense, you must purchase and then install an ignition interlock device, which must remain on your car for a year. The cost of the device comes out of our own pocket.

Underage Drinking Charges

While you need a BAC of .02% or higher to receive a DUI, you can be charged for underage drinking for possessing alcohol, even if you didn't drink any. For underage drinking, you could face up to $500 in fines and a 90 day license suspension regardless of whether you drove under the influence. For a second offense, the license suspension increases to a year and to two years for a third offense.

Charges for Parents

Even if a teen is drinking in your house, he or she is not allowed to consume alcohol. Adults who knowingly let a minor drink alcohol face a $1,000 fine for a first offense and a $2,500 fine for subsequent offenses.

Refusing the Blood or Breath Test

While it may seem like a good idea at first, the state makes refusing the chemical or breathalyzer test a very unwise one. Do not think refusing either test will spare you from a DUI conviction. If an officer can demonstrate your inability to drive, you can face DUI charge even if you didn't take the test. On the other hand, refusing the test results in an automatic year-long license suspension. If you are later found guilty of a DUI, this year is added to the suspension you will receive for the DUI. Even if you are proven innocent, you may still face this suspension.

Future Impact

Aside from the fines and legal repercussions, a DUI can impact your future in a variety of ways. Schools have the right to expel you or refuse you admittance due to a DUI. Additionally, future employers have the right to request your criminal record and refuse admittance because of a DUI charge. Lastly, you can expect a higher car insurance premium for years to come.

You should not dismiss the other less measurable risks of drinking and driving. When you get behind the wheel while under the influence, you risk hurting yourself or someone else. Should you hurt or kill someone or damage property, you can expect the legal penalties to increase significantly.

With lives at stake, drinking and driving is not worth the risk. As a minor, you should not be drinking to begin with, and the choice to do so could negatively impact your future in far-reaching ways. Stay smart. Stay safe. Stay sober.