Many people in Pennsylvania might hear about how tough the laws against drunk driving are yet they still hear and read about many serious and even fatal accidents caused by drunk drivers. Even though the state lowered the blood alcohol content threshold for drunk driving from 0.10 percent to 0.08 percent 15 years ago, it seems law enforcement has not been able to stem the tide of deaths attributed to impaired drivers. This logically makes one wonder if the laws are tough enough.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, from 2012 to 2016 between 28 percent and 31 percent of Pennsylvania’s total vehicular fatalities each year occurred in accidents in which alcohol was a contributing factor. In 2016 alone, 1,188 people were killed in all auto crashes statewide and 327 of those died in drunk driving accidents. In Dauphin County specifically, 28 lives were lost between 2012 and 2016 at the hands of drunk drivers out of a total 115 automotive deaths.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation indicates that the state openly states that it attempts to not focus on punishing people after a first conviction for driving under the influence and instead focus on trying to rehabilitate them. As such, a first-time DUI offense may carry with it no jail time for a person with a blood alcohol content below 0.10 percent. The driver might even be able to retain all driving privileges.

Consequences of a DUI may increase if a person’s BAC is 0.10 percent or higher and again if a BAC exceeds 0.159 percent. Additional consequences may be experienced for minors or commercial drivers.