May I Still Drive My Car After a DUI

In May of 2016, the legislature modified the Vehicle Code to allow a person to obtain an interlock license  for almost any Driving After Imbibing offense.  The changes are due to begin fifteen months from the legislation which is quickly approaching effective August 25, 2017.  These changes allow any person to obtain an Interlock Driver’s License which will allow operation of a motor vehicle equipped with an interlock device.

The length of the suspension varies based on the type of offense as follows:

  • A person whose license has been suspended as a result of a 1547(b) conviction (chemical test refusal on suspicion of DUI) must serve six months of suspension (or nine months for a second offense) and is eligible for an ignition interlock device for the remaining six months.
  • A person whose license has been suspended for a DUI may immediately obtain an ignition interlock if it is the first offense.
  • A person who has a suspension based on a second offense with a blood alcohol level less than .16 or a third offense with a blood alcohol level less than .10 is eligible after serving six months of a license suspension.
  • A person who has a second offense with a blood alcohol level over .16 or third offense with BAC greater than .10, and any fourth or subsequent offense is eligible after serving nine months of the suspension.

The full text of the change is included in 75 Pa C.S.A. §1556 or can be found at the Pennsylvania General Assembly Website.

The Pennsylvania Legislature has long established penalties for Driving After Imbibing (DUI) offense.  In 2004 the Legislature tied the length of Driver’s license Suspension the number of prior DUI’s and the severity of the offense as determined by an individual’s blood alcohol level.  The range of license suspensions is generally between twelve months and eighteen months.

According to PennDOT:  “Ignition interlock is a device that is installed on motor vehicles to prohibit individuals under the influence of alcohol from operating the vehicle. Individuals are required to blow into the device before starting the vehicle. If the device detects alcohol, it will prevent the vehicle from starting. In addition, at periodic times during the operation of the vehicle, the driver will be prompted to blow into the device to ensure they are not under the influence.”

Although this is still a restriction, and can be a very costly, Ignition Interlock allows a person to continue to drive after a DUI penalty and might help to reduce the number of Driving Under Suspension offenses which carry additional license suspensions and jail time.