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Under 21 DUI in Pennsylvania

DUI arrest in Pennsylvania is a stressful enough situation, but when a person is arrested for DUI and is under the legal age to drink, the consequences and standards can be even more difficult. The rules for those under 21 are very strict, and negatively impact your freedoms, including the right to drive and possible jail time.

With the help of experienced criminal defense attorney David J. Cohen at your side every step of the way, you can know that you are represented by an attorney who understands Pennsylvania DUI laws and can defend your case.

Under 21 DUI

In Pennsylvania, those adults who are 21 years of age and older are allowed to purchase and consume alcohol. They are not allowed to be intoxicated behind the wheel, even when they are of age.

Those under the age of 21 are not allowed to purchase alcohol, or even drink it in most places. The rules and punishments for those who drive while under the influence of alcohol under the age of 21 are higher. These rules can greatly impact your life.

Blood Alcohol Content

In Pennsylvania, adults over the age of 21 are considered intoxicated per se if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08% or above.

The standard is more strict for those drivers under the age of 21. For younger drivers between 18 and under 21, the BAC limit is 0.02% or higher. This is a much lower standard. In some instances, a single drink can push you over this limit. You may not even feel "buzzed" but still be over the legal threshold of per se intoxication.

Penalties for Under 21 DUI in Pennsylvania

All drivers under the age of 21 in Pennsylvania are subject to heightened penalties as the result of a DUI conviction.

A person over 18 but under the age of 21 faces the following potential penalties:

  • First-time offender:
    • mandatory jail term of not less than 48 hours,
    • minimum fine of $500 and maximum possible fine of $5,000,
    • must attend an alcohol highway safety school,
    • possible imposition of up to 150 hours of community service, and
    • must comply with all drug and alcohol treatment requirements imposed by the sentencing judge.
  • Second-time offender:
    • mandatory jail term of at least 30 days,
    • minimum fine of $750 and maximum possible fine of $5,000,
    • must attend an alcohol highway safety school,
    • possible imposition of up to 150 hours of community service, and
    • must comply with all drug and alcohol treatment requirements imposed by the sentencing judge.
  • Third-time offender:
    • mandatory jail term of at least 90 days,
    • minimum fine of $1,500 and maximum possible fine of $10,000,
    • possible imposition of up to 150 hours of community service, and
    • must comply with all drug and alcohol treatment requirements imposed by the sentencing judge.
  • Fourth or subsequent offender:
    • minimum jail term of at least 1 year,
    • minimum fine of $1,500 and maximum possible fine of $10,000,
    • possible imposition of up to 150 hours of community service, and
    • must comply with all drug and alcohol treatment requirements imposed by the sentencing judge.

License Suspension

A license suspension may be imposed upon a driver depending on the circumstances of the case. Generally, a first time DUI offender will not face a license suspension so long as his or her BAC is below 0.10%. 

A person whose BAC is 0.10% or higher, or a person with two or more DUI convictions within a 10 year period will have his or her license suspended as a result of a conviction.

For those under the age of 21, a license suspension of 12 months can be imposed upon a driver, even for a first-time offense.

Ignition Interlock Device

A person who is charged with a DUI under 21 could get limited driving privileges if he or she agrees to use an ignition interlock device. Limited driving privileges allow a person under license suspension to get to certain places, such as school, work, or medical appointments.

An ignition interlock device is a device attached to your car's ignition, requiring you to blow into it so that it can test your breath for alcohol. If it detects alcohol, the car will not start. It may also create a report that could be sent to your probation officer or even the judge.

Consult an Experienced Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney

If you face charges of DUI under 21, there are defenses which can be raised on your behalf. You have the right to challenge the prosecutor's allegations and defend your constitutional rights. Never assume you are guilty, or that there is no point in fighting back.

Criminal defense attorney David J. Cohen is devoted to representing the people of Pottstown, Pennsylvania, and surrounding areas. Contact the David J. Cohen Law Firm, LLC today for a consultation.

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