Pennsylvania’s Underage DUI Laws and Penalties

The consequences of impaired driving for persons under 21 years old.

In Pennsylvania, drivers under the age of 21 are subject to a lower blood alcohol limit than older drivers. An underage DUI also carries different penalties than a standard DUI conviction.

To be guilty of DUI, a driver under 21 years old need only have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least .02%, whereas a standard DUI requires a BAC of .08% or more.

Penalties

An underage DUI is a misdemeanor, but the specific penalties vary depending on the number of prior offenses the offender has within the last ten years. Other factors such as a particularly high BAC, alcohol test refusal, and drug use can increase the possible penalties.

Jail time. A convicted driver faces up to six months in jail (up to five years for a third offense). Prior to release or probation, the offender must serve at least 48 hours in jail for a first offense, 30 days for a second offense, and 90 days for a third offense.

Fines. The court will order a fine of $500 to $5,000 for a first underage DUI offense. A second offense carries a fine of $750 to $5,000 and a third offense will result in $1,500 to $10,000 in fines.

License suspension. The Department of Transportation (DOT) receives notice of all underage DUI convictions. For first and second offenses, the DOT will suspend the driver’s license for 12 months. A third offense results in an 18-month suspension. Prior to full license reinstatement, the driver must install and maintain an ignition interlock device (IID) for one year. The driver can choose to install the IID after serving half of the suspension period to regain limited driving privileges for the remaining suspension.

Treatment. Prior to sentencing, the offender must complete a drug and alcohol evaluation. The results will be reviewed by the judge. The judge can then decide to order treatment, up to 150 hours of community service, and attendance at a DUI victim impact panel. All first and second offenders must complete an alcohol highway safety school program.

Test refusal. All Pennsylvania drivers are considered to have given their implied consent to chemical testing for drugs or alcohol if lawfully arrested for DUI. Refusal of a lawfully requested test will result in license suspension, hefty license reinstatement fees, and increased DUI conviction penalties.

Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition

Pennsylvania has a diversion program that can reduce the penalties of a DUI and keep a DUI conviction off the driver’s record. However, drivers who caused an injury accident, had a passenger under 14 years old, or who have a prior DUI offense in the last ten years are not eligible for the program. Those who do participate in the program must complete a drug and alcohol evaluation, an alcohol highway safety school program, and any recommended treatment programs. The driver will also be subject to six to 12 months of court supervision and a 90-day driver’s license suspension.

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