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DUI in PA: First Offense

First offense DUI in PA is the least severe DUI offence. Correspondingly, the penalties for first offense DUI in PA are the mildest - they may not inflict jail term or driving license suspension, like for second or third time offences. You may be penalized with a $300-$5000 fine, have probation for six months, attend highway safety school and be obliged to use Interlock Ignition Device (if case you refuse to take a chemical test), up to 150 hours of community service. However, mind the punishment not outlined by the criminal code but still someting unavoidable - higher insruanace rates, which can hit you in your pocket much more voilently than the fine!

According to PA DUI laws, first offense PA DUI penalties are classified into 3 tires based on your BAC level, the higher the BAC the more severe the punishment.

  • Tire 1: General impairment: 0.08% to 0.099% ( 0.02% to 0.099% for drivers under 21). Penalties: up to 6 months of probation, mandatory attending of alcohol highway safety school, mandatory seeking of alcohol and drug treatment, up to $300 fine, no loss of License (if you are eligible for ARD).

  • Tire 2: High BAC: 0.10% to 0.159%. Penalties: mandatory attendance of alcohol highway safety school, mandatory seeking of alcohol and drug treatment, 1 year license suspension, 48 hours to six months jail term, $500 to $5,000 fine.

  • Tire 3: Highest BAC: 0.16% and up. Penalties: mandatory attendance of alcohol highway safety school, mandatory seeking of alcohol and drug treatment, 1 year license suspension, 72 hours to six months jail term, $1000 to $5,000 fine.

The lookback Period for DUI offences in Pennsylvania is 10 years, which means that DUI incidents that took place more that 10 years prior to the current incident won’t be taken into account when imposing the sentence.


  • If you are younger than 21, the BAC for you to be arrested and convicted for DUI is not .08% but .02%.
  • You don’t have to be actually driving to be arrested for DUI in PA. The punishment is inflicted for any “operating” and “actual physical control” of the vehicle, which means that if you are found drunk inside the vehicle is a state when you could make the vehicle start. For example, if your have your keys in the ignition and you are sleeping. without any intension to drive, and you are 20, and the police offices comes up and tells you to take a test, and your BAC is .02%., you will be convicted of DUI.
  • You may refuse to take the test, but in this case your license will be suspended for 1 year (the officer will tell you about that when offering to take the test). This is stipulated by the Implied Consent Law. In certain cases, 1 year suspension is less severe than the penalties listed above and some drivers would prefer suspension. However, refusal to take a test does not mean that you won’t be convicted of DUI in Pennsylvania - you will be found guilty even if the court has no proof that your BAC was .08% or more (.02% or more for those under 21). So your next DUI will be not first but second offence.

First Offense DUI in PA and ARD Program

ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition) is the best way to first time offenders to resolve DUI incident. If allows to avoid going to trial or sometimes even a guilty plea. You may be eligible for ARD if you have no prior criminal record, have a good driving record, DUI incident resulted no accident, you were not using drugs.

First DUI and Car Insurance Rates

Apart from the risk of killing someone or yourself, fines and other punishments the criminal code imposes, there is another downside of drunk driving: a speep jump in insurance rates or the risk that your current insurance provider may drop you cancelling your current coverage and many won’t accept you later on. When your are arrested for you first DUI incident, the cost of your policy will sky rocket by almost 95% of your current premiuim, and will remain as high during the next 3 years. By the end of the 3rd year it will lower maybe to 160% of your current rates - if you steer clear of alchol all this time!