You get pulled over for drunk driving, and you instantly start wondering how it is going to change your life moving forward. How long will you lose your license? What types of fines are you looking at? Will you lose your job? Will you have to use an ignition interlock device?
You're right to wonder. States have been cracking down on drunk driving more and more over the years, so the impact could be substantial. For instance, ignition interlock devices are far more common than they used to be.
To one degree or another, ignition interlock systems get used in all states in the U.S. These systems check your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) when you attempt to start your vehicle. If you do not pass the breath test, the car does not start. Some systems even provide periodic checks after a set amount of time so that you cannot drink after you get the car going and just leave it on. You have to pass the tests over and over again to keep the vehicle working.
Now, the ignition interlock laws do get set at the state level, so they are different everywhere. In some states, they target repeat offenders. In other states, they target those who have a very high BAC, far over the legal limit of 0.08.
The law in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, the ignition interlock law connects to your BAC level. You do not have to use one if you have a blood alcohol concentration that comes in under 0.10.
This means that you could technically get a DUI at the legal limit of 0.08 or even over the limit, at 0.09, and you would not need the device. If you got a DUI with an even lower BAC -- which is possible if the police officer thinks the alcohol impaired your ability to drink, even with a BAC under the legal limit -- you also would not need one.
If you cross that 0.10 threshold, though, the tougher laws kick in. An ignition interlock device could drastically change your life, serving as a constant reminder that you got a DUI and forcing you to find other ways to travel if you go out with friends, have a glass of wine on a date, or just have a beer at the house and then get called in to work.
Pennsylvania just put this new law on the books back in 2016. It is very important to keep up on any changes to state laws to make sure you know exactly how they define your rights. These laws definitely shift over time, and you do not want any incorrect assumptions to keep you from seeking proper legal defense options.