Pennsylvanians know how seriously the state courts take drinking and driving. The Keystone State offers some of the best driving in the country, so legislators take safe driving seriously. Lawmakers take extra concern with those under age 21— Pennsylvania is one of 12 states that support Zero Tolerance laws for underage drinking and driving.
Zero tolerance laws take aim at underage drunk driving to save lives. These harsh penalties may have devastating consequences on a young person’s life.
Penalties for drinking and driving under 21
Among driver fatalities in 2018, 29% were people aged 16 to 20 — over a 10% increase from 2017. This overrepresentation signals that young drivers miss key educational opportunities that highlight the grim dangers of drunk driving.
The Zero Tolerance policy makes underage drinking and driving a misdemeanor. Drivers face a DUI charge if they have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.02% or higher. Those convicted may face the following penalties:
- Jail: Those convicted may spend up to six months in jail, or up to five years if this is a person’s third offense. Offenders will spend a minimum of 48 hours in jail for their first offense, 80 days for their second and 90 days for the third.
- Fines: Offenders must pay fines alongside time in jail. Those charged will owe between $500 to $5,000 for their first offense, $750 and $5,000 for the second and $1,500 and $10,000 for their third.
- Suspended license: All offenders face license suspension, up to 12 months for first and second-time offenses. Third-time offenders will be without a license for 18 months. The judge may call for the installation of an ignition interlock device to reinstate one’s license.
- Treatment: All offenders will enroll in a highway safety program. A judge may order additional treatment through community service or attendance at a DUI victim panel.
A judge may increase penalties or add new ones if a driver refuses a drug or alcohol test.
Facing a DUI charge? Consider talking to a lawyer
Those facing an underage DUI charge can bring their questions to a lawyer. An attorney familiar with Pennsylvania DUI law can assess one’s case and work with the courts to curb any lasting repercussions.