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DUI Laws in Pennsylvania: What You Need to Know to Avoid Getting Screwed

Posted by Sean Quinlan | Nov 13, 2023 | 0 Comments

Pennsylvania DUI laws are a bit of a mess. They're complicated, confusing, and constantly changing. But don't worry, I'm here to help you wade through the muck and understand what you need to know to avoid getting screwed.

What constitutes a DUI in Pennsylvania?

A DUI in Pennsylvania is called driving under the influence (DUI). It's illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. If you're caught driving with a BAC of 0.08% or higher, or if you have ANY weed in your system, or if you have a combination of alcohol and/or weed or other controlled substance in your system.... you'll be charged with a DUI.

What are the penalties for a DUI in Pennsylvania?

The penalties for a DUI in Pennsylvania vary depending on the number of prior DUI offenses you have and your BAC. But in general, you can expect to face the following penalties:

  • First offense DUI: An ungraded misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, and a license suspension of up to 1 year.
  • Second offense DUI: A misdemeanor punishable by up to 2 years in jail, a fine of up to $10,000, and a license suspension of up to 18 months.
  • Third offense DUI: A felony punishable by up to 5 years in jail, a fine of up to $15,000, and a license suspension of up to 18 months.

What are the defenses to a DUI in Pennsylvania?

There are a number of defenses to a DUI in Pennsylvania. Some of the most common defenses include:

  • The stop was illegal: If the police officer who stopped you didn't have a valid reason to do so, the evidence they obtained from the stop can be suppressed.
  • The field sobriety tests were not administered properly: Field sobriety tests are not always reliable, and if they're not administered properly, the results can be thrown out of court.
  • The breathalyzer test was not accurate: Breathalyzer tests can also be inaccurate, and if there's a good reason to believe that the test wasn't accurate, the results can be thrown out of court.
  • You were not under the influence of alcohol: Of course, the most obvious defense is that you simply weren't under the influence of alcohol at the time of the stop.

What's not a defense to a DUI?

Your medical marijuana prescription card. I can't emphasize this enough. This card allows you to legally possess a small amount of medical marijuana for personal use. It does not get you out of a DUI for having weed in in your system while operating a motor vehicle. Don't mention the card. Don't show it to the cop. It doesn't help you unless you're being arrested for possession, not DUI.

What should I do if I'm arrested for a DUI in Pennsylvania?

If you're arrested for a DUI in Pennsylvania, the most important thing you can do is to remain silent and ask for a lawyer. Do not talk to the police officer, even if they promise to go easy on you. Anything you say can and will be used against you in court.

Once you have a lawyer, they will be able to review your case and develop a defense strategy. They will also be able to negotiate with the prosecutor on your behalf and try to get your charges reduced or dismissed.


DUI laws in Pennsylvania are complicated and confusing, but that doesn't mean you have to get screwed if you're arrested for a DUI. By understanding your rights and hiring a good lawyer, you can increase your chances of getting a favorable outcome in your case.

Additional tips for avoiding a DUI in Pennsylvania

  • Don't drink and drive. It's not worth it.
  • If you do drink, have a designated driver or take a taxi.
  • If you're not sure if you're too drunk to drive, err on the side of caution and don't drive.
  • Be careful about taking prescription medications that can impair your driving ability.
  • Obey all traffic laws, including the speed limit.

If you follow these tips, you can help to ensure that you never have to deal with the hassle and expense of a DUI arrest and conviction.

If you're facing a DUI charge, call me. I'll fight for you.

About the Author

Sean Quinlan

Attorney Quinlan has practiced law in Pennsylvania since 2001. He earned his J.D. at Widener University School of Law in Harrisburg, PA, and earned his B.A. at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, PA. He is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar. He also belongs to the Pennsylvania State Bar Associati...


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