by Brian Patrick Bronson, Esq.
In February, key changes to Pennsylvania’s DUI law went quietly into effect. The most publicized change in the new law was the lowering of the legal limit for blood alcohol level from .10% to .08%. A 200-pound male could exceed the new .08% limit by consuming four drinks in one hour. A female weighing 120 pounds now exceeds the limit by drinking 2½ drinks in one hour. The lowering of the minimum blood alcohol limit is not expected to result in an increase in convictions. The Westmoreland County district attorney’s office has reported that the clear majority of first time DUI convictions exceeds a blood alcohol of .16%!
The new DUI law also significantly changed the penalties imposed on offenders. There are now three classifications of offenders, based on their blood alcohol level: .08% to .09%, .10 to .15%, and .16% and above, with the penalties increasing as the blood alcohol level increases.
At the lowest level, .08% to .09%, there is no mandatory jail sentence or license suspension for a first offender. At .16% and above, the law requires a minimum 72 hour imprisonment (it could be longer) and a 12-month license suspension. By the time a person has a third offense, even .08% mandates 10 days in jail and a 12-month license suspension, and in the event of a third offense at .16%, the punishment is one year in jail, $2,500 fine, 18-month license suspension, and a one year ignition interlock (a breathalyzer machine on your ignition) following the 18-month license suspension.
Most of these changes are designed to “up the ante” for DUI offenders, making the punishment more severe for multiple and highly intoxicated operators.
The new DUI law can be confusing. If you have any questions about a DUI or have been arrested for drunk driving, contact an experienced Greensburg DUI lawyer via email or phone us at 724-837-0080 in Greensburg or toll free at 888-534-6016.
For more information please visit our Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Information page.
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