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Do Pennsylvania DUI Laws Work?

Habitual DUI Offenders and Pennsylvania Law

Like many crimes and driving offenses in Pennsylvania, the Driving Under the Influence ("DUI") laws impose harsher penalties for habitual offenders. However, unlike the "3 strike" rule in other states or the "career offender" label in federal courts, Pennsylvana operates under a tier system.

The tier system breaks DUI in Pennsylvania into three categories of severity.

  • First Tier: BAC .08 - .10
  • Second Tier: BAC .10 - .16
  • Third Tier: BAC .16 or higher (and any "drugged driving" offenses)

After determining the tier of the offense, usually by a blood test, the judge then determines how many prior DUI offenses the driver has had (within the past 10 years;typically). Therefore, both the level of impairment and habitual nature of the driver are considered in imposing a punishment. For example, a driver pulled-over with a BAC of .13 and with one prior DUI conviction (within 10 years) will likely be sentenced to serve between one to six months in jail (or on house arrest in certain counties).