While sometimes seen as a rite of passage for college students, beers at Friday night games and shots at Saturday night parties can cause serious consequences, especially if you get behind the wheel. Charges of driving under the influence carry significant legal penalties in Pennsylvania.
As the holiday break approaches, review the penalties for a first-time DUI as a reminder to call an Uber if the night gets out of hand.
Drivers younger than 21 will receive a DUI charge in Pennsylvania with a measured blood alcohol content of at least .02%, compared to .08% for drivers who are of legal drinking age. Convictions carry a minimum of 48 hours and up to six months in jail for a first offense, along with fines ranging from $500 to $5,000. In addition, the state will suspend your license for six months, and you must have a costly ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle for the first 12 months after reinstatement.
The judge will order you to complete alcohol safety school and mandate a substance abuse evaluation. He or she may order up to 150 hours of community service. Some offenders must attend an impact panel comprised of the families of DUI victims.
Some drivers can qualify for a program to have the DUI conviction expunged after meeting certain requirements, including substance abuse evaluation, treatment, if indicated, and attendance at an alcohol safety education program. However, this program is available only for first-time offenders whose arrest did not involve a passenger younger than 14 or injury to another person.
Pennsylvania law establishes increased penalties for BAC above .10%, DUI charges that involve a controlled substance other than alcohol and refusal to take a breath test. Depending on the circumstances, drivers could receive up to $10,000 in fines and six months in prison.
If you are a parent to a college student, remind him or her about the dangers of drinking and driving. Set a good example by demonstrating safe driving practices, too.