Are you traveling to Pennsylvania soon? The laws may not be the same as your home state. Keep reading to learn more.

Drug and Alcohol Laws in the State of Pennsylvania

Before heading to Pennsylvania, be sure you know:

  • DUI laws and penalties
  • The zero tolerance law for minors
  • Recreational and medical cannabis laws
  • Drug-related crime laws

Be sure you know the penalties for breaking these laws. You could still end up with a fine or jail time even if you didn’t know the law.

DUI Laws in Pennsylvania

Driving with a blood alcohol level over .08 is illegal in Pennsylvania. A BAC between .10 and .16 is a high rate of alcohol. A BAC over .16 is the highest rate of alcohol. Both come with additional penalties.

Pennsylvania also has laws against driving after using a controlled substance. Penalties can include:

  • Fines
  • Loss of driver’s license
  • Community service
  • Jail time

Zero Tolerance Laws for Pennsylvania

People under 21 can’t drive after drinking alcohol. They face arrest for a BAC of .02 percent. This comes within two or more hours of the last drink. Penalties if convicted could include up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. Most people also lose their driver’s license for one year. These penalties are equal to a high rate of alcohol offense for older drivers.

Is Marijuana Legal in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania created a medical marijuana program in 2018. Patients must register through the state’s Medical Marijuana Registry. The doctor must confirm the patient suffers from a qualifying condition. Pennsylvania currently has more than two dozen qualifying conditions. Common examples include amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Parkinson’s disease. Patients need to pay for a medical marijuana card. They then need to buy their product from a licensed dispensary.

Recreational marijuana is illegal in Pennsylvania. You could face up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine for possession up to 30 grams. The penalty increases up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine for over 30 grams. A second offense could mean up to three years in jail and a fine up to $25,000. Governor Tom Wolf is currently in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana for adults over age 21. No measures have passed as of early 2020.

Drug and Alcohol Related Crimes

Pennsylvania enforces many laws about crimes related to drugs and alcohol. For example, manufacturing or selling any controlled substance is a crime. It can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. This depends on the drug class and previous offenses. It also depends on whether you committed a violent act. Penalties can include several days to years in jail. They can also include fines ranging from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. Most cases call for driver’s license suspension.

Penalties for Drug or Alcohol Abuse in Pennsylvania

The following penalties are for a first offense:

  • Six months probation
  • Alcohol highway safety courses
  • Mandatory alcohol or drug treatment
  • $300 fine

For the second offense:

  • Loss of driver’s license for one year
  • Ignition interlock for one year
  • Up to six months in jail
  • Fine up to $2,500
  • Mandatory safety courses and alcohol or drug treatment

For the third offense:

  • Loss of driver’s license for one year
  • Jail sentence of up to two years
  • Fine up to $5,000
  • Ignition interlock for one year

The penalties for high BAC and highest BAC are more severe in each category. Someone with a high BAC will lose their license for a year. This is with the first offense. A driver with repeat highest BAC offenses could spend up to five years in jail. Fines can be more than $25,000.

Get Treatment for Drug or Alcohol Abuse

The penalties for DUI and related crimes can be severe. If you struggle with addiction, seek help now before you lose your freedom. You can attend outpatient treatment according to your schedule. You can also stay inpatient for more intense help. It’s up to you to decide what is best. Your doctor can give you referrals. You can also do your own research. The important thing is to get the help you need. Without it, you could find yourself in jail or worse.


  1. Drug and alcohol laws in Pennsylvania (2003, September 30)
  2. Zero tolerance laws for Pennsylvania (2020)
  3. Marijuana laws in Pennsylvania (2018)
  4. Marijuana laws in Pennsylvania (2019, September 25)
  5. Drug and alcohol related crimes in Pennsylvania (1972)
  6. Penalties for drug and alcohol abuse in Pennsylvania (2013, September 30)

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