Senate Sends Governor Landmark Bill To Increase Penalties for Repeat DUI Offenders

 

Legislation sponsored by Senator John C. Rafferty, Jr. (R-44) advances to the governor for his signature that will save lives by establishing tougher penalties for dangerous repeat DUI offenders.

Senator Rafferty is Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee and has been championing efforts throughout his tenure to improve Pennsylvania’s inadequate DUI laws and prevent needless tragedies caused by impaired drivers.

Senate Bill 961 creates the first-ever felony DUI in Pennsylvania for a person convicted of their third DUI with a BAC of .16 or higher and all persons convicted of their fourth or subsequent DUI. This bill would also increase the grading and mandatory incarceration for a person who unintentionally causes the death of another person as a result of a second or subsequent DUI violation.

“We are sending a strong message to dangerous repeat DUI offenders who show reckless disregard for the health and safety of our Commonwealth,” said Rafferty. “If you are a repeat DUI offender and get behind the wheel again and kill someone, you are more liable and you will be held more accountable. Every driver and passenger on our roadways should have the assurance that they will make it home safe without being jeopardized by these dangerous repeat DUI offenders.”

There were 10,256 alcohol-related crashes and 297 alcohol-related fatalities in Pennsylvania in 2016. Additionally, Pennsylvania is consistently ranked as one of the most lenient states for DUI laws including: the fifth most lenient state for criminal DUI penalties; the most lenient state for driving-under-suspension penalties; and one of the last states that does not treat repeat DUI as a felony, regardless of prior DUI convictions.

Altogether, the bill makes a number of changes to existing DUI laws, including:

  • Increasing the minimum term of imprisonment for a person who unintentionally causes the death of another person while intoxicated. The minimum sentence would increase from three years to five years if the person has a prior DUI, and from three years to seven years if the offender has two or more prior DUIs.
  • Establishing increased penalties for repeat offenders who are not properly licensed or under suspension. The current penalty is a fine of $500 and imprisonment of 60 to 90 days. The legislation would increase this penalty on a second offense to a fine of $1,000 and imprisonment of at least 90 days. A third or subsequent offense would result in a fine of $2,500 and at least six months in jail.
  • Prohibiting the adult driver required to accompany a person driving on a learners from being impaired to a degree that they endanger themselves or others.
  • Streamlining the post-accident testing requirements when a police officer investigates an accident involving a CDL holder related to a DUI offense.

Contact:  Ryan Boop, Esq., (717) 787-1398