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10 Laws You Should Know If You're in Pennsylvania

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

Pennsylvania was one of the original 13 colonies, and if you're in the Keystone State, you should be familiar with its rich history of laws.

While learning about the life of the Founding Fathers is a great way to enjoy the history of Pennsylvania, you may also want to focus on the present laws that will have a slightly more pressing effect.

Get ready for an updated page of Poor Richard's Almanac, with 10 laws you should know if you're in present-day Pennsylvania:

  1. DUI threshold. The legal blood-alcohol concentration limit for most drivers 21 and over is 0.08 percent. But Pennsylvania allows for harsher penalties if your BAC is 0.16 percent or higher.
  2. Cell phone use while driving. Pennsylvania is one of many states that prohibits texting while driving. Taking voice calls may be fine though.
  3. Divorce requirements. In order to file for divorce in Pennsylvania, at least one spouse must have resided in the state for at least six months.
  4. Marital property division. Pennsylvania's High Court has found that community property is invalid under the state constitution. So without a private agreement like a prenup, when spouses split, their property is divided based on fairness.
  5. Comparative fault for injuries. Pennsylvania has adopted a modified contributory negligence standard. If you are more than half (50 percent) at fault for your injuries, you may not recover anything.
  6. Statutes of limitation. You have time limits for filing civil lawsuit in Pennsylvania, and ignorance of the laws will not be an excuse. For example, you generally have two years to sue for personal injury, but just one year to sue for libel.
  7. Will requirements. Handwritten wills and oral requests describing how to distribute your property after death don't cut the mustard in Pennsylvania. You'll need at least two witnesses too.
  8. Late rent period. Landlords must allow Pennsylvania tenants up to 10 days to pay overdue rent before evicting them.
  9. Gun laws. You can openly carry firearms without a license, except in Philadelphia, but you'll need a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
  10. Age of majority. The age of majority is 18 in Pennsylania, although 14-year-olds may consent to mental health treatment.

Let the spirit of Ben Franklin guide you in following these Pennsylvania laws. To learn more, check out FindLaw's section on Pennsylvania Law.

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