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Is it possible to receive DUI charges below the legal limit?

Pennsylvania is among the 49 states – as well as the District of Columbia – that recognize a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% as the legal limit to operate a motor vehicle. For most people, reaching this limit takes between three to four standard-sized drinks. If you have several drinks at a bar, restaurant or gathering, you are likely safe to drive, depending on your size and your rate of consumption. Yet, if your job requires you to operate a commercial vehicle, or if you are underage, the state holds you to more stringent BAC rules.

The legal limit for commercial operators

Your job may require you to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). If it does, your threshold for receiving DUI charges is far lower than the average person, due to the responsibilities that holding a CDL entails. As a CDL holder in Pennsylvania, you could receive DUI charges if your BAC is 0.04% or greater during a traffic stop in your commercial vehicle. This drops to 0.02% if you are a school bus driver. If you receive a DUI conviction, you will lose your privilege to operate a commercial vehicle for one year. A second DUI conviction could cause you to lose your CDL for life.

Pennsylvania’s Zero Tolerance law for underage motorists

If you are under age 21, driving with more than a trace amount of alcohol in your system could carry serious consequences in Pennsylvania. The state’s Zero Tolerance law prohibits underage motorists from operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.02% or greater. If you receive a DUI conviction for violating this law, your driver’s license could be suspended for up to 18 months. You may have to pay a fine of up to $5,000 as well. And depending on the nature of your offense, you could spend up to six months in jail.

DUI charges can carry serious consequences for both CDL holders and underage motorists. To mitigate the impact of your charges, you will want to seek the help of a criminal defense attorney.


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