Second-Offense DUI in Pennsylvania

Learn about how Pennsylvania defines “driving under the influence” and the consequences of a second DUI conviction.

Pennsylvania’s DUI law prohibits driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle while:

  • having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more
  • having any amount of a Schedule I or II controlled substance in the body, or
  • impaired by drugs or alcohol to an extent that it affects the person’s ability to operate a vehicle safely.

Generally, a driver is deemed to have violated the law if a chemical test conducted within two hours of driving shows a BAC that’s above the legal limit. (Get an estimate of how many drinks it takes to put you at .08%.)

The consequences of a DUI conviction depend on the circumstances, including whether the motorist has prior DUI convictions. This article covers second-offense penalties. (Read more about Pennsylvania’s DUI laws, including first-offense and third-offense consequences.)

What Is Considered a “Second-Offense” DUI

In Pennsylvania, a DUI is considered a “second offense” if the motorist has one prior DUI conviction that occurred within the past ten years—including most out-of-state DUI convictions.

Penalties for a Second DUI

The consequences of a second DUI conviction—which can be the result of a plea bargain or being found guilty after a trial—differ depending on the facts of the case. But generally, the possible penalties include:

  • DUI based on impairment or a BAC of at least .08% but less than .1%. A second DUI conviction where the driver was convicted based on impairment or having a BAC of .08% or more but less than .1% is a misdemeanor. A convicted driver is looking at $300 to $2,500 in fines, five days to six months in jail, and a 12-month license suspension. The motorist will also have to complete an alcohol safety class and may be required to participate in substance abuse treatment.
  • Impairment DUIs involving injuries, death, or property damage and DUIs involving BAC of at least .1% but less than .16%. A second DUI conviction where the driver was convicted based on impairment and someone was injured or killed or another’s property was damaged or the driver had a BAC of .1% or more but less than .16% is a misdemeanor. The convicted driver is looking at 30 days to six months in jail, $750 to $5,000 in fines, and a 12-month license suspension. The motorist will also have to complete an alcohol safety class and may be required to participate in substance abuse treatment. (Also, read about Pennsylvania’s homicide-by-vehicle laws.)
  • Impairment DUIs involving a refusal to take a breath test and DUIs involving BAC of at least .16% or controlled substances. A second DUI conviction where the driver was convicted based on impairment and refused to take a breath test or the driver had a BAC of at least .16% or any concentration of a controlled substance is a first-degree misdemeanor. The convicted driver is looking at 90 days to five years in jail, at least $1,500 in fines, and an 18-month license suspension. The motorist will also have to complete an alcohol safety class and may be required to participate in substance abuse treatment.
  • DUIs with a minor passenger. A second offender who’s caught driving under the influence with a passenger who is under 18 years old is guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor. In addition to the penalties mentioned above, the convicted motorist is looking at least $2,500 in fines and one to six months in jail. The driver also faces an 18-month license suspension.

Anyone convicted of a second DUI must have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed to obtain a restricted license during the suspension period.

Talk to a DUI Attorney

DUI law is complicated and the facts of each case are different. And the consequences of a second DUI are serious. So, if you’ve been arrested for a DUI, get in contact with an experienced DUI lawyer. A qualified attorney can tell you how the law applies in your situation and help you decide on how best to handle your case.

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