A new law takes aim at repeat DUI offenders in Pennsylvania. According to the Daily Local News, the law increases penalties for anyone facing a third or more DUI, as well as those who convicted of homicide by DUI.
Third DUI may be charged as a felony
Previously, all DUIs were charged as misdemeanors in Pennsylvania. Now some DUI crimes are felonies. If a person is convicted of a third DUI within 10 years, it is charged as a felony. A third DUI when the driver has a BAC level of .16 or more will also be charged with a felony. Any driver charged with a fourth offense also faces a felony charge.
Some repeat DUI offenders have longer minimum sentences
There are also increased penalties for those charged with homicide by vehicle while intoxicated. If a driver has a previous DUI, he or she will be sentenced to at least five years in prison for a homicide by vehicle conviction. For drivers with two or more DUI convictions, they receive a seven-year minimum sentence for homicide by vehicle. A Pennsylvanian caught driving on a DUI-suspended license also faces tougher penalties.
The law was sponsored by the Pennsylvania Parents Against Impaired Driving (PAPAID). Chris Demko, a member of the group, stated the law will give people another reason to not drive impaired after already convicted of DUI. Demko lost a daughter to an accident with a repeat DUI offender.
250,000 repeat DUI offenders in PA
Repeat DUIs happen more often than many people may realize. PAPAID stated in Pennsylvania, 140,000 people have suspended licenses from DUIs currently. There are also about 250,000 repeat offenders in the state.
A felony DUI conviction has serious consequences
If you are charged with a felony DUI, there could be serious penalties. For a conviction, you receive significant jail time and must pay serious fines. You also have a felony conviction on your record. This causes issues with finding employment, securing housing and getting certain professional licenses. You also lose your right to own a gun or vote.
However, an arrest does not have to result in a conviction. A criminal defense attorney can examine your case and may find issues with your arrest or evidence collection. An attorney can try to negotiate for lesser charges. When facing a felony, you should mount the strongest possible defense against the charges.