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Impaired Driving

Image including glass of beer, bottle of pills, and car keys with text reading Be Safe PA. There's more than one way to be under the influence. Don't Drive Impaired.

PennDOT is reminding motorists to Be Safe PA — Don't Drive Impaired. One of the common misconceptions that impacts people when they are drinking is how much alcohol they are actually consuming. Whether it is a 12-ounce beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, or a 1.5-ounce shot, they each constitute one drink.

Cost of a DUI

The costs associated with an impaired driving arrest can vary greatly depending on several factors, including blood alcohol content, location of arrest, and number of offenses. The effect on a driver's wallet starts the moment they are stopped by police. Here are a few expenses associated with a DUI.

  • Traffic fine: $300 - $10,000 depending on blood alcohol content and number of offenses
  • Towing vehicle: $50 flat fee plus mileage
  • Impound: $75-$175 per day
  • Legal fees: $2,000-$8,000 or more
  • Alcohol evaluation: $35-$100
  • Accelerated rehabilitative disposition (ARD): $100-$1,800
  • Education and treatment: $100-$1,000 or more
  • License restoration: $25 non-commercial, $75 commercial
  • Insurance premium: increase of about $1,000 a year or cancellation of policy

Apart from the financial aspects of a DUI arrest, there may also be social ramifications. Court appearances, community service requirements or jail time lead to lost time and lost wages — possibly job loss. A DUI conviction can also impede attempts to get a job, and cause embarrassment to your family.

For more information, check out Pennsylvania's DUI Law.

Underage DUI – Zero Tolerance

Pennsylvania's Zero Tolerance Law carries serious consequences for those under 21 who are convicted of driving with any amount of alcohol in their blood. For example, those under 21 who are convicted of driving under the influence with a .02 blood alcohol content, or greater, face severe penalties, including a 12-to 18-month license suspension, 48 hours to six months in jail, and fines from $500 to $5,000.

A vehicle does not have to be involved in order for those under 21 to lose their driving privileges. It is against the law for an individual under the age of 21 to consume, possesses or transport alcohol, or lie about their age to obtain alcohol and carry a fake identification card. If convicted, the minimum penalties are a fine of up to $500, plus court costs; a 90-day license suspension for the first offense; a one-year suspension for the second offense; and a two-year suspension for the third and subsequent offenses.

Impaired Driving Enforcement in Pennsylvania

Although alcohol-related fatalities account for nearly 30 percent of all traffic fatalities in Pennsylvania, impaired driving enforcement covers more than just alcohol impairment. Law enforcement also works to identify motorists impaired by drugs and prescription medication, or some combination of these.

Pennsylvania continues to enhance its drug-impaired enforcement by training officers in Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement and the Drug Recognition Expert programs.

There were 49,730 DUI arrests in Pennsylvania in 2018, a decrease from the 52,189 arrests made in 2017. The number of DUI-drug arrests continues to be a concern, with 33,712 charges for driving under the influence of an impairing drug filed in 2018. This is a 28 percent increase over the previous three years. PennDOT encourages you to always plan ahead by either designating a sober driver or arranging for alternate transportation.

Holiday Reminder: Even a little bit of alcohol can alter someone's ability to drive safely. This holiday season remember Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving. Driving with any alcohol in your system is dangerous.

Ignition Interlock System

Pennsylvania law requires the installation of an ignition interlock system on the vehicle of first-time and repeat DUI offenders with high blood alcohol levels and for individuals who receive an operating privilege suspension as a result of a chemical test refusal violation. 

These devices work by requiring the driver to blow into it before starting the vehicle. If the device detects alcohol, it will prevent the vehicle from starting. Ignition interlock devices will also prompt the driver to blow into the device at periods of time during the operation of the vehicle.

Thanks to these devices, more than 78,000 impaired driving attempts were prevented in 2019.

View ignition interlock system Frequently Asked Questions (PDF) for more information.