Is buzzed driving illegal in Pennsylvania?

If you plan on enjoying a few alcoholic beverages to celebrate the New Year, you may be concerned about just how much you can drink while still maintaining enough control to get home legally and safely. You can take comfort in knowing that in Pennsylvania, whether or not you are likely to face legal consequences for driving after ingesting alcohol depends largely on your blood alcohol content level. This means that even if you are buzzed, unless you hit the legal limit, you may not be charged with a DUI.

If you are like many people, just a few drinks will get you buzzed. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s ad campaign against driving while intoxicated, if you are buzzed, you are really drunk. Unfortunately, this leaves a little room for misunderstanding. In Pennsylvania, if your BAC reaches 0.08, you could be charged with a DUI. However, if you are under the age of 21 an officer can arrest you for a DUI if your BAC is 0.02 or greater. If you are 21 or older and your BAC measures between 0.01-0.07, you may be considered buzzed, but not legally drunk. This may have the greatest implications for you if you are stopped by a police officer for a DUI check. If you are buzzed and not over the legal limit, the officer may not be able to charge you with a DUI.

Although you may not legally be charged with a DUI while buzzed, you can still be charged or face serious consequences. According to a recent study by the University of San Diego, minimally buzzed motorists are 46 percent more likely to be blamed for their role in accidents than sober drivers. This information should be considered educational only, not as legal advice.  

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