Penalty Tiers for DUI in Pennsylvania


You’ve been stopped, arrested and charged with drinking and driving in Pennsylvania. What can you expect as a potential penalty if you are convicted?

In Pennsylvania, as in other states, there’s a range of penalties and the sanctions imposed depend on a couple factors—how many times you have previously been convicted and what your blood alcohol level was when you submitted to the breathalyzer—what are known under Pennsylvania law as “penalty tiers.

The Different Penalty Tiers for DUI in Pennsylvania

In 2003, the Pennsylvania legislature lowered the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) for intoxication from 10% to 8%. At the same time, they established tiers of intoxication that carry different penalties:

  • A blood alcohol content of .08 to .10 is considered “general impairment. A person testing at this level can face six months probation, a $300 fine and attendance at an alcohol safety school, provided it’s a first offense.
  • A blood alcohol level of .10 to .159 is deemed a high rate of alcohol.” Persons under 21 with a BAC of .02 or higher are also within this tier, as are people who caused any accident causing injury or property damage and certain persons driving commercial vehicles. A first conviction at this tier leads to a mandatory 48 hour incarceration and a 12 month license suspension.
  • A blood alcohol level of .16 or higher is labeled “highest rate of alcohol, with a mandatory three day jail sentence and 12 month license suspension for a first conviction. Anyone refusing to take a blood test will also be charged under this tier.

Contact the Law Office of Michael Curtis Greenberg

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