Agency recommends lower DUI limit, but many are skeptical

A federal safety agency has recommended lowering the legal threshold for driving under the influence of alcohol, but some believe any changes to the Pennsylvania DUI laws are likely to come slowly – if they come at all.

The National Transportation Safety Board issued a recommendation in May 2013 that states lower the legal threshold for DUI from the current blood alcohol content limit of 0.08 to a proposed BAC limit of 0.05. Such a change would reduce the legal threshold for drunk driving by more than one-third.

Some think change unlikely in Pennsylvania

The NTSB is a federal agency that makes recommendations about traffic safety issues, but it has no lawmaking authority of its own. Thus, state governments are free to decide whether to incorporate the agency’s recommendations into their DUI laws.

The last time the NTSB recommended lowering the DUI threshold was in 1982, when it proposed reducing the blood alcohol content limit from 0.10 to its current level of 0.08. Although some states were quick to modify their laws in response to that recommendation, Pennsylvania was among the last to adopt a 0.08 limit, finally doing so in 2003.

Because the last change took over two decades to be fully implemented in all 50 states, many observers are skeptical that lawmakers will be eager to adopt the NTSB’s latest recommendation. “It was very difficult to get 0.08 in most states so lowering it again won’t be popular,” a spokesman for the Governor’s Highway Safety Administration told the Associated Press. Instead, Philly.com reported, states may be more inclined to focus on enforcement efforts targeting repeat DUI offenders and drivers with high BAC levels.

Consequences of DUI conviction in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania law establishes strict penalties for drivers convicted of DUI. Even for a first-time DUI offense in Pennsylvania, potential sentences may include up to six months in jail, license suspension for one year and fines of up to $5,000, depending on the circumstances.

The severity of the consequences for DUI conviction in Pennsylvania depends on several factors, including the degree to which the driver’s BAC levels exceeded the legal limit and whether the driver was involved in a crash that resulted in injury or property damage. The penalties for DUI conviction in Pennsylvania also grow increasingly severe with each subsequent offense; for example, a fourth-offense DUI can result in a prison sentence of up to five years and fines of up to $10,000.

Get help for Pennsylvania DUI charges

If you or someone close to you has been arrested for suspected DUI in Pennsylvania, be sure to seek help from a knowledgeable DUI defense attorney. A lawyer with extensive experience defending against Pennsylvania DUI charges can help you ensure that your legal rights are protected and will advocate vigorously on your behalf to seek an optimal resolution.

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