Pennsylvania DUI Laws & Penalties

Pennsylvania DUI laws state that it is unlawful for any person to operate or attempt to drive a motorized vehicle in the state of Pennsylvania while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, intoxicants or any combination thereof with a blood alcohol concentration level of .08% or greater.

It is not necessary for a person who is stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence in Pennsylvania to show the typical signs of impairment one would expect to see in someone who has been consuming alcohol or drugs, just the fact that that person's BAC level is above the legal limit of .08% or greater will get you arrested for DUI in Pennsylvania.

A person can still be arrested and charged with DUI in Pennsylvania even if their BAC level is below the legal limit just by displaying signs of impairment that are consistent with driving under the influence.



Even before an officer stops someone on suspicion of DUI, the officer is already starting to build a case against that individual starting with observing the individual's driving behavior prior to initiating a DUI stop.  The officer is going to be observing whether or not you are swerving within your own lane or whether or not you are swerving over the lane markers.

He will also be looking for other signs like excessively wide turns, how you are maintaining your speed versus the posted speed limit and other various observations.  All of this is going on even before the officer initiates a DUI stop.

When you are stopped the officer is going to start by asking the obvious questions as to whether or not you've been drinking and then the officer will proceed into asking you to perform some field sobriety tests.  It is not required by law that you submit to the field sobriety tests, you have every right to kindly refuse to submit to them.

You are however, required by Pennsylvania's implied consent law to submit to a chemical test.  If you refuse to submit to a chemical test the arresting officer must inform you of the penalties for a test refusal and then ask you a second time if you will submit to a chemical test.

Every driver who holds a Pennsylvania driver's license has agreed to the state's implied consent law when they initially accepted their PA driver's license.  Basically the implied consent law says that if you are stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence you shall submit to a chemical test to check for alcohol, drugs or intoxicants in your body.

If you have been arrested for a DUI offense in Pennsylvania you may be eligible for a probationary license that will allow you to drive please review the Pennsylvania probationary license fact sheet for more information.

Pennsylvania DUI offenses are rated on a 3 tier system. Tier 1 offense is for a BAC level of .08% up to .099%; Tier 2 offense is for a BAC level of .10% up to .159% and a Tier 3 offense is for a BAC level of .16% or higher.  The Tier system is used for every offense.

Pennsylvania First Offense DUI

A Pennsylvania first offense DUI conviction is a Misdemeanor offense and carries the following penalties:

  • Jail time: A first offense Tier 1 conviction will result in up to 6 months of probation.  A Tier 2 conviction will result in a minimum of 2 days in jail up to a maximum of 6 months in jail.  A Tier 3 conviction will result in a minimum of 3 days in jail up to a maximum of 6 months imprisonment.
  • Fines: A first offense Tier 1 will result in a $300 fine plus associated court costs.  A Tier 2 will result in a minimum fine of $500 up to a maximum fine of $5,000 plus associated court costs.  A Tier 3 will result in a minimum fine of $1,000 up to a maximum fine of $5,000 plus associated court costs.
  • Alcohol school: First time offenders will be required to attend a Pennsylvania Alcohol Safety School and complete the program before their license will be reinstated by the DOT.
  • CRN evaluation: The court may order you to undergo an alcohol assessment and treatment program if they deem it to be necessary.
  • Test refusal: A first offense refusal will result in a 1 year license suspension. An interlock will be required for a refusal.
  • Ignition interlock: There is a minimumn 1 year interlock requirement for first offenders.
  • License suspension: There is no action set for a first offense Tier 1 license suspension period, meaning that the court may or may not order your license to be suspended for a set period of time.  A Tier 2 & Tier 3 will result in a license suspension period of 12 months. First time offenders may be eligible for a restricted license after the first 60 days of their suspension period has passed.

    Before the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will reinstate your license following your suspension period or before issuing you a restricted license they will require you to file proof of financial responsibility in the form of an Pennsylvania SR22 insurance policy with them.  You will also have to pay a license reinstatement fee.

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Pennsylvania ARD Program For First Offenders

The state of Pennsylvania has a program for first time offenders called the "ARD" Program or Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition and is a program that is unique to the state of Pennsylvania.

The state of Pennsylvania implemented the ARD program as a way to speed up the court process for criminal offenses like first offense DUI cases.  It should be noted that just because you are a first time DUI offender doesn't necessarily mean that you will be eligible for the ARD program.

ARD Eligibility

To be admitted into the ARD Program a first time offender must be recommended for the ARD Program by the District Attorney from the County in which you are being charged.  It should not be assumed that just because you are a first time offender that you will be recommended for the ARD Program or for that matter if you are recommended that you should accept admittance into the Program versus going to trial to fight the charge.

Whether or not the DA recommends you to the program will depend on a number of factors including the circumstances surrounding your case like whether or not there were any serious bodily injuries to others or excessive property damage caused as a result of an accident resulting from your driving under the influence.

There were no passengers under the age of 14 in your vehicle at the time of the arrest. The DA is also going to check your background record and if there were any victims as a result from your DUI the DA is going to notify them that he is recommending you for the ARD Program and make sure that they do not object to your admittance into the program.  If there were victims and they object to your admittance, you will not be allowed admittance into the program and you will have to go to court to face the charges against you.

Things You Should Know About the PA ARD Program

You only get one shot at the ARD Program, so lets say that you get accepted into the ARD Program and you accept admittance and a few years down the road you are arrested for another driving under the influence offense, your previous offense that was sealed as a result of your completing the ARD Program will now be unsealed by the court and you could very well be facing a second offense charge instead of a first offense charge.

Also if you stand a good chance of beating the charges against you and having your case dismissed by going to trial, you and your lawyer should seriously consider taking your case to trial instead of accepting the ARD Program that way if a few years down the road you are arrested for another driving under the influence offense, you still have the option of accepting admittance into the ARD Program since you did not use your one time get out of jail free card the first time around.

So talk to your Pennsylvania DUI lawyer about the above scenarios and weigh your options before making a decision that could come back to haunt you down the road.

Pennsylvania Second Offense DUI

A Pennsylvania second offense DUI conviction is a Misdemeanor offense and carries the following penalties:

  • Jail time: A second offense Tier 1 conviction will result in a minimum of 5 days to 6 months in jail.  A Tier 2 will result in a minimum of 30 days up to 6 months imprisonment.  A Tier 3 conviction is 1st degree Misdemeanor offense and will result in a minimum of 90 days up to 5 years imprisonment.
  • Fines: A second offense Tier 1 conviction will result in a minimum fine of $300 up to a maximum fine of $2,500 plus associated court costs.  A second offense Tier 2 conviction will result in a minimum fine of $750 up to a maximum fine of $5,000 plus associated court costs.  A second offense Tier 3 conviction is a 1st degree Misdemeanor offense and will result in a minimum fine of $1,500 up to a maximum fine of $10,000 plus associated court costs.
  • Alcohol school: Second time offenders will be required to attend a Pennsylvania Alcohol Safety School and complete the program before their license will be reinstated by the DOT.
  • CRN evaluation: The court may order you to undergo an alcohol assessment and treatment program if they deem it to be necessary.
  • Test refusal: A second offense refusal will result in a 1 year license suspension. An interlock will be required for a refusal.
  • Ignition interlock: There is a minimumn 1 year interlock requirement for second offenders.
  • License suspension: A second offense Tier 1 conviction will result in a license suspension period of 1-year.  A second offense Tier 2 conviction will result in a license suspension period of 1-year.  A second offense Tier 3 conviction will result in a license suspension period of 18 months.

    All second time offenders will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle for a period of 1-year following the reinstatement of their driver's license.  You will be required to provide the DOT with proof of the installation before they will reinstate your license.

    Before the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will reinstate your license following your suspension period they will require you to file proof of financial responsibility in the form of an Pennsylvania SR22 insurance policy with them.  You will also have to pay a license reinstatement fee.

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Pennsylvania Third Offense DUI

A Pennsylvania third offense DUI conviction is a 2nd degree Misdemeanor offense if it is a Tier 1 offense and a 1st degree Misdemeanor if it is a Tier 2 or 3 offense.  The fines and penalties for a third offense are as follows::

  • Jail time: A third offense Tier 1 conviction will result in a minimum of 10 days in jail up to a maximum of 2-years imprisonment.  A third offense Tier 2 conviction will result in a minimum of 90 days imprisonment up to a maximum of 5-years imprisonment.  A third offense Tier 3 conviction is a 1st degree Misdemeanor offense and will result in a minimum of 1-year imprisonment up to a maximum of 5-years imprisonment.
  • Fines: A third offense Tier 1 conviction will result in fine of $500 - $5,000 fine plus associated court costs.  A Tier 2 conviction will result in a $1,500 - $10,000 fine plus associated court costs.  A Tier 3 conviction is a 1st degree Misdemeanor offense and will result in a $2,500 - $10,000 fine plus associated court costs.
  • Alcohol school: Third time offenders will be required to attend aPennsylvania Alcohol Safety School and complete the program before their license will be reinstated by the DOT.
  • CRN evaluation: The court may order you to undergo an alcohol assessment and treatment program if they deem it to be necessary.
  • Test refusal: A third offense refusal will result in a 18 month license suspension. An interlock will be required for a refusal.
  • Ignition interlock: There is a minimumn 1 year interlock requirement for third time offenders.
  • License suspension: A third offense Tier 1 will result in a license suspension period of 1 year.  A Tier 2 will result in a license suspension period of 18 months.  A Tier 3 will result in a license suspension period of 18 months. Before the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will reinstate your license following your suspension period they will require you to file proof of financial responsibility in the form of an Pennsylvania SR22 policy with them.  You will also have to pay a license reinstatement fee.

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Pennsylvania CDL DUI Laws

A person operating a commercial motor vehicle in the state of Pennsylvania while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or an intoxicant with a blood alcohol concentration of .02% or greater or failing to submit to a chemical test is in violation of the state's laws regarding CDL's and will be arrested for DUI and your CDL will be revoked for a period of 1-year following a first offense violation.  A second CDL DUI offense will result in your CDL being revoked for life.

If you were carrying hazardous materials at the time, your CDL will be revoked for 3-years. A second offense violation while carrying hazardous materials will result in a permanent CDL revocation, you will never be able to drive or operate a CMV again.  A CMV operator stopped and found to have any measurable amount of alcohol less than .02% in their system will be issued an "out-of-service" notice and will not be allowed to drive for the next 24-hours.

Pennsylvania DUI Under 21 Years of Age

If you are stopped by an officer and found to have been consuming alcohol and have a blood alcohol concentration level of .02% or greater, you are in violation of Pennsylvania's "zero tolerance" law regarding under age drinking and driving.

The minimum penalties for a first offense violation are a fine of up to $500 plus all associated court costs and a 90-day suspension of your license.  The court may require you to undergo an alcohol assessment to determine if you have an alcohol or drug problem.



A second offense under the age of 21 will result in fines of up to $500 plus all associated court costs and a 1-year suspension of your driver's license.  The court may require you to undergo an alcohol assessment to determine if you have an alcohol or drug problem.

A third or subsequent offense under the age of 21 will result in fines of up to $500 plus all associated court costs and a 2-year suspension of your driver's license.  The court may require you to undergo an alcohol assessment to determine if you have an alcohol or drug problem.

Following the suspension of your driver's license you will be required to pay a license reinstatement fee along with providing the Pennsylvania DOT with proof of financial responsibility in the form of a Pennsylvania SR22 insurance policy that meets the states minimum requirements for auto insurance liability coverage limits.  You will be required to keep your SR22 insurance policy for a period of 3-years following any offense.

If you are under 21 and are arrested for having a BAC of .08% or greater you will be facing the same penalties that someone over the age of 21 would be facing for the same offense including fines, jail time and license suspension periods.

Pennsylvania SR22 Requirements

Before the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will reinstate your license following your revocation period, they will require you to file an SR22 form with them before issuing you a new license. You will be required to carry your SR22 insurance for a period of 3-years.

At anytime during this 3-year period if there is a lapse in your Pennsylvania SR22 insurance coverage, your insurance provider is obligated by law to immediately inform the Pennsylvania DOT of the lapse.  If a lapse in coverage occurs, the Pennsylvania DOT will immediately suspend your license and you will be required to re-file an SR22 form with the DMV before they will issue you another license.

Since you are going to have to have your SR22 insurance for a period of 3-years, it is important to find the cheapest policy you can before choosing one.  DUI Process has partnered with the largest and most trusted SR22 insurance provider in the state of Pennsylvania and has worked out a special discount only available here for our website visitors.

You won't be able to find a SR22 insurance policy in Pennsylvania for any less.Type in your zip code below so we can provide you with the cheapest rates in your area.

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Other Pennsylvania DUI Resources

  • Pennsylvania First Offense DUI - First offense information including penalties, fines, potential jail time, license suspension, DUI classes, and much more.

  • Pennsylvania SR22 Insurance Filing - We have compiled everything you need to know about Pennsylvania's SR22 insurance and filing requirements including important addresses, phone numbers, etc.

  • Pennsylvania DUI Schools - We offer a complete listing of state approved DUI schools listed by County.

  • Pennsylvania Bail Bondsmen - Comprehensive list of Pennsylvania bail bond agents including address, phone, website, etc.