Pennsylvania lowers blood-alcohol limit

| 10/2/2003

Gov. Ed Rendell signed legislation Tuesday, Sept. 30, toughening Pennsylvania’s drunken driving law just hours before a federal deadline elapsed.

The new law lowers the blood-alcohol limit from 0.10 percent to 0.08 percent and toughens penalties for drivers with especially high blood-alcohol levels. It also gives the Pennsylvania Transportation Department authority to install an ignition interlock device in the car of a repeat offender for one year.

The governor’s signature hours before the Oct. 1 deadline allowed the state to avoid losing $11.8 million in federal transportation funds, or 2 percent of certain highway road dollars, Philadelphia’s KYW TV reported. The figure would have increased to 8 percent – $41 million – if the standard were not adopted by 2007.

SB8 sets up increasing levels of punishment for higher blood-alcohol levels – 0.08 to 0.099; 0.10 to 0.159; and 0.16 and up – all becoming more severe with each additional offense.

The lower limit took effect immediately, while most of the other provisions go into effect Feb. 1.