Will I Go to Jail for a Second DUI in Pennsylvania?

Legally reviewed by:
Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C.
July 28, 2021

Will I Go to Jail for a Second DUI in Pennsylvania?Everyone makes poor decisions from time to time but driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol is one mistake not easily excused by law enforcement in Pennsylvania. Prosecutors have been pursuing more complex ways to penalize DUIs to prevent others from making the same mistakes. As a result, drivers who have been charged with a second DUI have much more at stake with increased penalties than those of a first offense.

If you’re facing charges for a second DUI in Pennsylvania, one question that is likely top of mind is whether you may go to jail. In short, the answer is yes. However, the specific details of your case will have a significant impact on the penalties. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know.

Overview of Pennsylvania’s Drunk Driving Laws 

In Pennsylvania, penalties for driving under the influence are classified according to the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) along with their record of prior DUI offenses. 

Pennsylvania passed Act 23 into legislation in 2003, which created a tiered approach towards DUI enforcement while lowering alcohol’s legal limit to .08. This law created the following tiers regarding DUIs: 

  • General Impairment: BAC of .08 to .099 
  • High BAC: .10 to .159 BAC
  • Highest BAC: .16 and higher BAC

Consequently, any driver arrested for a DUI with a BAC of .08 or higher can be charged with drunk driving. At the same time, certain individuals confront enhanced penalties regardless of the type of DUI in which they’re categorized.

Drivers Who Face Heightened Penalties for Drunk Driving

Individuals who may face harsher penalties even with a general impairment DUI charge involve: 

  • Commercial drivers
  • Drivers who cause injury to others: or to property
  • Drivers who refuse to take a chemical test
  • School-employed drivers
  • Underage drivers

What’s Considered a “Second Offense” DUI in Pennsylvania?

A first offense DUI is a misdemeanor in Pennsylvania that carries penalties that include jail time, fines, and a potential loss of license. Pennsylvania’s “look back” period is ten years, meaning that any convictions for drunk driving during this time frame will be counted. 

In other words, if you’re arrested for driving under the influence within ten years of a prior DUI conviction, you can face harsher penalties that may include fines that reach the tens of thousands of dollars and a loss of driving privileges that may last for years. 

Penalties of a Second-Time DUI Offense in Pennsylvania 

All second offense DUI charges in Pennsylvania are punishable by the following consequences. Further, convicted drivers must attend and complete a court-appointed Alcohol Highway Safety School and install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) into their vehicles before getting their driving privileges restored. If you’re convicted of a second DUI, you may also have to perform community service and receive drug and alcohol treatment. 

Below are the penalties for the various tiers of a second DUI offense. 

General Impairment

The standard for a general impairment DUI in Pennsylvania includes:

  • BAC .08 to .099
  • No property damage or injury
  • 21 years or older

Punishments for a general impairment DUI include:

  • Five days to 6 months in jail
  • Driver’s license suspension for up to 12 months
  • 1-year ignition interlock 
  • Up to $2,500 fines
  • Ungraded misdemeanor
  • Alcohol highway safety school or treatment when ordered

High Impairment

The criteria for a high impairment DUI in Pennsylvania include:

  • BAC .10 to .159 
  • General impairment BAC with property damage or injury
  • In a school vehicle with BAC .02 to .159 
  • In a commercial vehicle with BAC .04 to .159

Penalties for a high impairment DUI include: 

  • 30 days to 6 months in jail
  • Driver’s license suspension for up to 12 months
  • 1-year ignition interlock
  • Up to $5,000 fine
  • Ungraded misdemeanor
  • Mandatory Alcohol highway safety school 
  • Treatment when ordered

Highest Impairment

The standard for the highest impairment DUI in Pennsylvania involve:

  • BAC .16 or higher 
  • Drivers who refuse to take a chemical test

Penalties for a DUI with the highest impairment include: 

  • Up to five years imprisonment 
  • Driver’s license suspension for up to 18 months 
  • 1-year ignition interlock
  • Up to $10,000 fine
  • First-degree misdemeanor
  • Mandatory Alcohol highway safety school 
  • Treatment when ordered

Other Implications of a Second DUI Charge in Pennsylvania 

Suppose you’re convicted of a first-time DUI offense in Pennsylvania. In that case, you may face the previously mentioned penalties along with other ramifications that may have a lifelong impact on your future, including: 

  • Loss of insurance or increased insurance rates 
  • Difficulties applying to colleges and universities
  • Challenges obtaining a student loan 
  • Suspended or rescinded scholarships from the university you go to
  • Inability to advance in your profession or career in positions that require a clean background check on potential candidates

If you’re facing drunk driving charges in Pennsylvania, one of the most significant things you can do to safeguard your future is secure a DUI defense lawyer who knows how to fight back. At Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, P.C., our DUI defense attorneys know what it takes to minimize the damages of a DUI arrest. 

Consult a Seasoned DUI Defense Lawyer in Montgomery County, PA

If you’ve been arrested for a second DUI offense in Pennsylvania, do not delay hiring the legal representation you need to mitigate the penalties and help you avoid a lengthy jail sentence. The Pennsylvania DUI defense attorneys at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, P.C. know the challenges that you’re going through, which is why we’re dedicated to defending your rights and best interests through each step of the legal process. 

The seasoned attorneys at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford have advocated for clients’ rights for more than 65 years throughout Montgomery County, Bucks County, and Southeastern Pennsylvania. We’ve earned the trust of clients in our communities, confronting a wide variety of legal troubles. Our highly qualified attorneys are ready to fight for you and help you navigate each step of this challenging process. Schedule your free consultation today by completing a contact form or call 215-822-7575.

Legally reviewed by:
Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C.
Pennsylvania Attorney's
July 28, 2021
Established in 1952 by Irwin S. Rubin, Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C. boasts over 65 years of experience serving clients throughout Pennsylvania. Renowned for its commitment to ethical representation, the firm has garnered prestigious accolades, including being named the "Best Law Firm" for its outstanding legal defense work by U.S. News & World Report. Their team of seasoned attorneys, recognized as Pennsylvania Super Lawyers and Rising Stars, brings unparalleled expertise to a wide range of legal matters, ensuring exceptional representation for individuals, families, businesses, and organizations.