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Driving Under the Influence in Pennsylvania

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There are three crimes that fall under the heading of DUI.

By Attorney Elisabeth K.H. Pasqualini, DUI Defense Attorney, Harrisburg, PA

Today, there are three crimes which may fall under the heading of "Drunk Driving," "Driving Under the Influence" (DUI), or "Driving While Intoxicated" (DWI). The traditional crime of drunk driving has as its corpus delicti (body of the crime), the following three elements: (1) driving a motor vehicle, (2) on a road, public way, or highway, (3) while under the influence of a drug or alcohol or combination of the two.

As it relates to alcohol, the traditional crime has been coupled with, or in some cases, complemented by, two other crimes: the crime of driving while impaired and the crime of having a particular blood, breath, or urine alcohol concentration while driving or within a specified period of time after driving. In Pennsylvania, one can be cited for driving under the influence if their blood alcohol content is .08% or higher within 2 hours of driving, in most instances. There are lower threshold standards for CDL drivers and those under 21 years of age.

All states, including Pennsylvania, make it illegal per se to drive with a particular bodily alcohol content (BAC). These states usually provide that anyone who drives with a BAC of .08% or more of alcohol in 100 mL of blood, is guilty of a crime. It is also unlawful in Pennsylvania and all states to drive while under the influence of drugs. This area of law is less settle than it is with alcohol, particularly as it pertains to per se drug limits. Many states, like PA, have opted for a zero tolerance for driving with the presence of specified category of unlawful drugs, such as a schedule I drug, like marijuana.

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