DUI and Alcohol in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania DUI Cases

Involving Alcohol

Pennsylvania DUI Cases Involving Alcohol are treated differently than those involving drugs.  Pennsylvania has a clearly defined three-tier system that bases punishment for DUI on the level of Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) in your system as well as your previous offenses.

If your test reveals you are at  Pennsylvania’s legal limit of .08 percent BAC or higher, you will be charged with DUI.

To learn more about the science behind BAC and use a BAC Calculator, click the button below.

Pennsylvania’s Three-Tier System

Pennsylvania uses a three-tier system based on the level of alcohol in your blood to determine your level of punishment for a DUI.

The first and lowest tier is for drivers who have a BAC of .08 to .099. You can also be put into this category if your BAC is lower than .08 but your driving was still impaired due to alcohol. You will face the lightest penalties if you are in this tier.

The second and middle tier is for drivers with a BAC of .10 to .159.

The third and highest tier is for drivers with BAC of .16 percent and higher. Third-tier drivers risk the most severe punishment.  The third tier is also used for all DUI cases involved drugs.

*Those under 21 only need to have a BAC of .02% to be guilty of DUI

BAC Levels and Criminal Sentences

Pennsylvania’s DUI laws have mandatory punishments for those convicted of DUI.  The mandatory punishment is determined by the BAC level and number of previous DUI offenses.

Examples are:

A first time DUI offense of .08% to .099% carries:
  • Up to 6 months’ probation
  • $300.00 fine
  • Alcohol Highway Safety Training
  • Possible Alcohol Treatment
  • NO license suspension

Whereas, a second offense carries:

  • 12-month license suspension
  • 5 days to 6 months in prison
  • $300 – $2,500 fine
  • Alcohol Highway Safety Training
  • Possible Alcohol Treatment
  • 1 year of ignition interlock
A first time DUI offense of .16% or higher carries:
  • 12-month license suspension
  • 72 hours to 6 months in prison
  • $1,000 – $5,000 fine
  • Alcohol Highway Safety Training
  • Possible Alcohol Treatment

Whereas, a second offense carries:

  • 18-month license suspension
  • 90 days to 5 years in prison
  • $1,500 – $10,000 fine
  • Alcohol Highway Safety Training
  • Possible Alcohol Treatment
  • 1 year of ignition interlock

If the DUI offense involves an accident, injury to another person or property, or someone’s death, the matter is handled more seriously, and you will be charged with additional crimes and face more serious punishments.

Click Here to see the full PA DUI Sentencing Chart

How Your Impairment is Discovered and Proven

On Patrol, Law Enforcement Observes for the following behavior:

  • Erratic driving
  • Weaving
  • Swerving
  • Driving under the speed limit
  • Coming close to hitting an object or another vehicle

During a Stop, Law Enforcement Observes for the following behavior:

  • Fumbling when you try to find your driver’s license
  • If your breath smells like alcohol
  • Flushed face
  • Glassy or bloodshot eyes
  • Slurred speech is slurred
  • Staggering or swaying when you leave your car

Field Sobriety Tests

The police may ask you to take a field sobriety test. This is a test of your mental and physical capabilities to see if you have been drinking. They are observing how well you can follow directions. They may ask you to:

  • Walk a straight line and turn
  • Recite the alphabet beginning with a letter that they give you
  • Balance on one leg
  • Follow a moving light or object with your eyes while you keep your head still

Your BAC Level

You will probably be asked to take a chemical test such as a breath, blood or urine test to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC).  In many cases you will initially have a breath test, and depending on the results, be taken to a hospital for a blood test.

If your BAC is .08 percent or more, the equivalent of two drinks for most people, you will be charged with DUI. However, if the police believe you are impaired because of alcohol and/or drugs, you can still be arrested even if your blood level tests lower.

Pennsylvania is an “implied consent” state, which means it is implied you will submit to a breathalyzer or chemical test upon request of law enforcement.  If you refuse testing, Pennsylvania will automatically suspend your driver’s license for one year; it is almost impossible to defend or avoid this suspension.  Even if you refuse, an officer’s testimony regarding his/her observations of you at the scene and your driving behavior may be enough to convict you without a breathalyzer or blood test.  You do not have to agree to a field sobriety test.  Whether or not to refuse breath or chemical testing is a personal choice and risk to take.  There are differing opinions on the breath and chemical refusal; however, my opinion is to cooperate and leave any battle to another day, especially a day you are sober.

What to do if you are pulled over

  • Do not take the police on a high-speed chase.
  • Do not argue with the Police Officers
  • Do not admit to drinking.
  • Do not allow a search of your car.
  • Do not try to talk your way out of the arrest.
  • Politely exercise your right to remain silent and request an attorney.

How Paul S. Peters III, Esq. Will Help

When you are up against DUI charges, you need an attorney, like Paul S. Peters III, Esquire who will stand by you every step of the way, work hard to discredit any evidence – and work with you to determine your best course of action.  Attorney Peters will advocate for your entry into the ARD program if feasible, fight for the best plea deal possible if that is your best option, or be fully prepared to defend your rights at trial and attack all evidence against you.  For trial, Attorney Peters has a network of experts in different areas of DUI evidence that you will have the option to hire for testimony and analysis in your trial.

Pennsylvania DUI Law

DUI is described and defined under The Pennsylvania Code under Title 75, Chapter 38. Read the code here.

If you or a loved one have been charged with DUI in Montgomery, Philadelphia, Bucks,            DelawareChesterLehighLancasterNorthamptonBerks, County, it is vital that you contact the Aggressive, Experienced, Trusted, and Compassionate Pennsylvania DUI Defense Lawyer, Paul S. Peters III, Esq.

To protect your rights in a DUI case, YOU BETTER CALL PAUL!


215-291-2944   or   215-696-1509 


Call 24 Hours/7 Days a week as Paul knows that the Police and Crime never sleep!



If you arrest in any of the following Pennsylvania Counties:            MontgomeryPhiladelphiaBucksDelawareChesterLehigh, LancasterNorthamptonBerksAdamsCumberlandDauphinFranklinFultonHuntingtonJuniataLebanonMifflinPerrySnyderYork BradfordCameronCentreClintonLycomingMontourNorthumberlandPotterSullivanTiogaUnionCarbonColumbiaLackawannaLuzerneMonroePikeSchuylkillSusquehannaWayne, and Wyoming County 

It is important you contact the trusted, aggressive, and experienced Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney:


Paul S. Peters III, Esquire at: