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Are PA’s DUI Laws The Toughest In The Country?

According to the Pennsylvania DUI Association, 333 people died in DUI car crashes in the state of Pennsylvania in 2014. That number represents 28 percent of all traffic deaths that occurred in Pennsylvania in 2014, which is a number that has steadily been decreasing since 2011.

One of the reasons drunk driving accidents and deaths are decreasing in Pennsylvania is because of the strong stance the state has taken against drinking and driving. Pennsylvania has been overhauling its DUI laws for years and it has been changing its DUI penalties as well. But how do the current Pennsylvania DUI laws stack up against other states from around the country?

Learn more about dram shop law and legal options if you've been hit by a drunk driver.

Pennsylvania’s Drunk Driving Laws

According to DrivingLaws.org, Pennsylvania’s DUI penalties and laws look like this:

  • 1st Offense – No jail time / Minimum fine is $300 / No license suspension
  • 2nd Offense – Five days to six months jail time / Fines ranging from $300 to $2,500 / License suspended for one year
  • 3rd Offense – 10 days to two years jail time / Fines ranging from $500 to $5,000 / License suspended for one year

The BAC limit in Pennsylvania is .08, and these DUI penalties apply to drivers who meet the criteria. The DUI laws get increasingly strict and the fines increase as the BAC level increases.

Pennsylvania also participates in the Driver License Compact  (DLC) with 46 other states. This is an agreement among the states that allows your DUI offenses in Pennsylvania or any of the other member states, to affect you out-of-state as well. While the DLC does not get involved in setting any penalties, it does make sure that your offenses in any other state follow you when you get arrested for DUI in Pennsylvania.

Which State Has The Strictest Laws In The Land?

According to Westword.com, the state with the strictest DUI laws in the country is Arizona. In the state of Arizona, a first-time DUI offense carries a mandatory license suspension of 90 days, jail time of at least 10 days, and a minimum fine of $750. Pennsylvania will even allow first-time offenders to avoid having to have an Ignition Interlock Device installed if they just do a field sobriety test. In Arizona, you are getting an Ignition Interlock Device after your first arrest whether you want it or not.

The Rest Of The States

Westwood put together a system where it rated the DUI laws from every state and then gave each state a score. The scale ranges from zero for the easiest laws to 100 for the toughest. It then took those scores and ranked them from one to 50 on a map of the country. Obviously, Arizona was ranked number one. Pennsylvania comes in it at number 48 out of 50, which means that (according to this scale) the state of Pennsylvania has some of the easiest DUI laws in the country.

To be fair, the scale does put some states in strange rankings. The state of Illinois is said to be tied for 19th in the state, but yet it has no minimum jail time for a first offender and only a five-day sentence for second offenders. Where the differences lie is how long offenders have to deal with their status as DUI offenders. The mandatory Ignition Interlock Period for first-time offenders in Illinois is 12 months, where it can be nothing in Pennsylvania.

PA Laws Constantly Changing

Over the past several years, the state of Pennsylvania has taken a long look at its DUI laws and is constantly making changes. The idea is to make people convicted of DUI pay for their crimes while doing everything possible to prevent a repeat offense. Too many people feel that driving is a right and not a privilege in the United States. The truth is that in states like Pennsylvania, abusing the privilege to drive could leave you stranded with no way to get where you need to go.

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David Petrone
Date Published: July 29, 2022
David Petrone is a personal injury attorney at Justice Guardians.
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