The winter months are typically packed full of holidays and special events, not to mention several weeks of time off school for college students. The chance to see family and friends, combined with free time, makes this a highly anticipated time of year.
However, it also has one of the highest rates of arrest for drunk driving.
Drunk driving arrests in Pennsylvania
The month of December comes with an increase in drunk driving incidents nationally, and Pennsylvania is no exception.
Between Dec. 22 and 25 in 2018, the Pennsylvania State Police arrested 330 people for driving under the influence and investigated 622 car accidents. The days around New Year’s Day also have more drunk driving arrests. From Dec. 29, 2018, to Jan. 1, 2019, the state police made 406 DUI arrests, according to their official holiday recap. During the holiday season, police prepare for a higher than average number of intoxicated drivers on the road.
Blood alcohol content matters
In all states in the U.S., it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher. People who are under 21 or who drive a commercial vehicle may face arrest and penalties for a lower BAC. In Pennsylvania, a driver’s BAC determines the penalties for drunk driving offenses, which state law divides into three categories:
- General impairment: 0.08% to 0.099%
- High BAC: 0.10% to 0.159%
- Highest BAC: 0.16% and up
Police watch for drivers who are weaving between lanes, driving too fast or too slow, stopping suddenly or other erratic behaviors. When law enforcement pulls someone over and requests a breath or chemical test, the driver must comply or be subject to the penalties for the Highest BAC category. This charge could result in a misdemeanor conviction, 72 hours to six months incarceration, thousands of dollars in fines, alcohol highway safety school and substance abuse treatment when appropriate.