Pennsylvania DUI Laws

Unlike most states, PA DUI laws do not require drivers to file an SR-22. However, insurance may still drop your coverage if you're convicted under Pennsylvania DUI laws.

Free Car Insurance Comparison

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

Full Bio →

Written by

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

Full Bio →

Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: May 19, 2020

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right coverage choices.

Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident car insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We are not affiliated with any one car insurance company and cannot guarantee quotes from any single company.

Our partnerships don’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own. To compare quotes from top car companies please enter your ZIP code above to use the free quote tool. The more quotes you compare, the more chances to save.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

Here's what you need to know...

  • The BAC minimum level for a DUI in Pennsylvania is 0.08
  • The least severe punishment a first-time DUI offender receives is a $300 fine, up to six months in prison, mandatory Alcohol Highway Safety School, and any ordered treatment
  • DUI insurance in PA requires an SR-22 form

Pennsylvania law states that anyone who drives under the influence of alcohol or drugs or intoxicating substances is breaking the Pennsylvania DUI insurance laws.

In Pennsylvania, the current blood alcohol content (BAC) minimum limit that constitutes a driving under the influence (DUI) offense is 0.08 percent.

This limit was lowered from 0.10 percent in 2003.

A driver’s BAC doesn’t have to register at or over the minimum 0.08 percent to result in an arrest for DUI. If he is showing signs that he is impaired he can be still be arrested.

A police officer observing a driver swerving between lanes, having difficulty maintaining the posted speed limit on the road or making unusually wide turns has a reason to stop the driver and test his BAC.

Even if it doesn’t register at 0.08 percent, the driver’s erratic actions can result in a DUI arrest.

Compare DUI laws and get the best car insurance by entering your ZIP code into the FREE tool at the top of this page!

What Happens When You Get Pulled Over By Police

When a driver is stopped by police on suspicion of DUI, they will be asked to perform a field sobriety test. He has the right to refuse to take a field sobriety test; it’s not required by law.

However, if they are asked to take a chemical test to determine his BAC, they must take it under Pennsylvania’s Implied Consent.

If a driver refuses to take a chemical test to determine his BAC, he will lose his driver’s license for 12 months, although he does have the right to appeal the suspension.

He may also suffer other penalties that are typically given to drivers who have the highest BAC readings.

Free Car Insurance Comparison

Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap car insurance rates.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Three Tiers of DUI Offenses

Pennsylvania instituted a three-tier DUI offense level in 2003. These tiers are:

  1. General impairment consists of blood alcohol level content between 0.08 percent and 0.099 percent.
  2. High BAC denotes a reading between 0.10 and 0.159 percent.
  3. Highest BAC refers to a reading of 0.16 percent and above

Each tier has different levels of penalties based on whether a driver has no prior DUI offenses, or has had one, two or three prior offenses.

Penalties for No Prior Arrests

What happens to first time DUI offenders in Pennsylvania? Is jail time mandatory for a first DUI in Pennsylvania? A driver who has had no prior DUI offense faces these penalties:

General Impairment

High BAC

  • Ungraded Misdemeanor
  • 12-Month License Suspension
  • 48 Hours to Six Months Prison
  • $500 to $5,000 Fine Alcohol Highway Safety School
  • Treatment when Ordered

Highest BAC

  • Ungraded Misdemeanor
  • 12-Month License Suspension
  • 72 Hours to Six Months Prison
  • $1,000 to $ 5,000 Fine
  • Alcohol Highway Safety School
  • Treatment when Ordered

Penalties for One Prior DUI Offense

A driver who has one prior DUI offense faces these penalties:

General Impairment

  • Ungraded Misdemeanor
  • 12-Month License Suspension
  • Five Days to Six Months Jail Time
  • $300 to $2,500 Fine
  • Alcohol Highway Safety School
  • Treatment when Ordered
  • One-Year Ignition Interlock

High BAC

  • Ungraded Misdemeanor
  • 12-Month Suspension
  • 30 Days to Six Months Prison
  • $750 to $5,000 Fine
  • Alcohol Highway Safety School
  • Treatment when Ordered
  • One-Year Ignition Interlock

Highest BAC

  • First-Degree Misdemeanor
  • 18-Month License Suspension
  • 90 Days to Five Years Prison
  • $1,500 to $10,00 Fine
  • Alcohol Highway Safety School
  • Treatment when Ordered
  • One-Year Ignition Interlock

Free Car Insurance Comparison

Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap car insurance rates.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Free Car Insurance Comparison

Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap car insurance rates.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Two or More Prior DUI Offenses

A driver who has had two or more prior DUI offenses faces these penalties:

General Impairment

  • Second-Degree Misdemeanor
  • 12-Month License Suspension
  • 10 Days to Two Years Prison
  • $500 to $5,000 Fine
  • Treatment when Ordered
  • One-Year Ignition Interlock

High BAC

  • First-Degree Misdemeanor
  • 18-Month License Suspension
  • 90 Days to Five Years Prison
  • $1,500 to $10,000 Fine
  • Treatment when Ordered
  • One-Year Ignition Interlock

Highest BAC

  • First-Degree Misdemeanor
  • 18-Month License Suspension
  • One to Five Years Prison
  • $2,500 to $10,000
  • Treatment when Ordered
  • One-Year Ignition Interlock

Only the High BAC tier has specific penalties for three or more DUI offenses. They are:

  • First-Degree Misdemeanor
  • 18-Month License Suspension
  • One to Five Years Prison
  • $1,500 to $10,000 Fine
  • Treatment when Ordered
  • One-Year Ignition Interlock

Special Cases

Under the new law, there are some situations in which a driver can be charged with a higher DUI offense even though his blood alcohol content doesn’t meet that level. Many state laws will be enforced, so make sure you are aware of all the laws. These include:

  • Minors
  • Commercial Drivers
  • School Bus Drivers
  • A driver who caused an accident that resulted in injury or property damage

Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition

Although the penalties for DUI in Pennsylvania are strict, they are meant to give opportunities for treatment and remediation to drivers who want the chance to clean up their records.

DUI offenders who are arrested for the first time may be eligible for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program, which streamlines the court process to some extent.

A driver must be recommended to the program by their county’s District Attorney and he must meet certain requirements while under ARD supervision, usually for two years. Car insurance rates can be drastically affected by a DUI, so keep from breaking the law!

Free Car Insurance Comparison

Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap car insurance rates.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Exemptions in Hardship Cases

Pennsylvania offers some exemptions to standard DUI penalties in hardship cases. An ignition interlock device, required when a driver has been convicted of a second or third DUI, may be waived on all but one vehicle the driver has access to if there’s a financial hardship.

If a driver must operate a company vehicle as part of their job, they may be eligible for an exemption to do so, even if they are required to use an ignition interlock.

Drivers convicted of DUI for the first time may be able to get an Occupational Limited License (OLL) once their suspension has passed 60 days.

In addition, first time DUI drivers who have been convicted of high-level DUI offenses and have served 12 of an 18-month license suspension may also be eligible for an OLL.

The penalties for not using an ignition interlock, or using it improperly, include extended license suspension

Pennsylvania DUI Statistics

According to statistics gathered by the Pennsylvania DUI Association, in 2010 there were nearly 12,500 auto accidents in Pennsylvania that involved alcohol in some way.

There were 459 deaths in 2010 from accidents related to alcohol. In those accidents, a staggering 90 percent of the fatalities were the occupants of the car which the drunk driver was driving; 75 percent of those fatalities were to the drivers.

Underage drinking and driving is an ongoing concern, with over 30 percent of the deaths of drivers aged 16 to 20 involved in an accident a result of alcohol.

That number rises to 50 percent for drivers aged 21 to 25 years old. Fortunately, the number of drunk drivers ages 26 to 30 killed in accidents decreased in 2010 by about six percent.

Statistics also show that three out four drivers involved in drunk driving accidents were male. Almost 75 percent of the drunk driving accidents occurred either after dark or on weekends.

Getting Insurance after a DUI

The majority of the states in the US require drivers with a DUI conviction to file an SR-22 form with their state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to reinstate their suspended or revoked licenses.

The form states that they promise to carry high-risk insurance, which is usually more expensive, for three years. What are the Pennsylvania car insurance rules?

Pennsylvania is one of the few states that do not require an SR-22 form.

However, if a driver convicted of a DUI moves to Pennsylvania from a state that required them to carry the high-risk insurance, they may still have to carry it until the three-year term has concluded.

Although a Pennsylvania driver doesn’t have to carry the higher risk coverage, he is required to hold a minimum amount of insurance to drive.

If he’s convicted of DUI, he may find that their current insurance company drops their coverage.

There are numerous internet sites available that can help a driver convicted of a DUI find car insurance that he can afford. Here are some tips that can help:

  1. A driver needs to do all he possibly can to avoid cancellation of the insurance policy.
  2. A driver should look at a number of different car insurance companies, especially if the DUI conviction is the only thing on their driving record. An insurance company might be willing to work with a driver with a clean record except for a DUI.
  3. A driver should consider buying a car that has lower rates for coverage.
  4. A driver needs to do everything within their power to keep their driving record squeaky clean in the future.

Taking these steps can help a driver overcome the impact of a DUI on their driving record and eventually reduce their insurance rates.

Compare car insurance quotes and save on car insurance after getting a DUI! We are here to help you find the best car insurance!

Simply enter your ZIP code into the FREE tool below now.

Free Car Insurance Comparison

Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap car insurance rates.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Average Monthly Car Insurance Rates by State