May 24, 2021
DUI Trends Down and Pennsylvania Wants to Keep it That Way
It should come as no surprise that during the pandemic drunk driving went down in the Keystone State. There wasn’t anywhere to go for the longest time, so naturally, people did not drive after drinking at home. This meant fewer car accidents, fewer court dates, and overall, more people safe at home. It’s been a lonely positive to take from the pandemic, but PA is looking to make it permanent. With Memorial Day coming up soon, the biggest holiday for drunk driving incidents, these pushes are more relevant than ever.
New Alcohol Monitoring Devices
On April 6th, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives “passed a bill to use technology to crack down on repeat DUI offenders.” This device would detect the presence of alcohol in the repeat offenders system, expanding upon the ignition interlock devices already in use. The courts are specifically looking at devices offenders would have to wear.
The goal of this is not only to deter drunk driving but to use in place of a typical sentence. Some would say this is perfect timing before Memorial Day weekend. Now, drunk drivers can find themselves in prison to protect the public from their behavior. If they have a device that monitors their BAC, the need to place them in prison is unnecessary.
There have been some revisions that are being thrown around. Currently, the cost of these devices is on the offender, but some argue that the state should cover the cost.
There have also been some attempts to repeal changes made to the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. This is a pre-trial intervention program that offers non-violent first offenders a second chance. Instead of prison, a defendant will be under supervision and have their record wiped clean after fulfilling program obligations. This new bill would repeal the cleaning of this record, making it so that if someone who’s gone through the ARD program is back in court again, they’re treated like a repeat offender. This goes against several of the benefits of the ARD program, hurting those who have already gone through it. If you’re worried about your record, contact Mazzoni Karam Petorak & Valvano now to protect your future.
Back in March, legislation called Dean’s Law, “named in memory of Deana Eckman, a Delaware County resident,” placed far stiffer penalties on repeat DUI offenders. This legislation formed due to the fact that if the driver who had killed Eckman was serving time for his fourth and fifth DUIs, he would have been in prison, unable to take Eckman’s life.
The law is to protect people from the worst of the worst repeat DUI offenders. Rep. Christopher Quinn, R-Delaware Country, said that this law is for “when [we’re] talking about people who have three, four, or five DUIs like the individual who was responsible for Deana’s death, you’re dealing with people who’ve clearly not learned their lesson and are demonstrating a sincere danger on our roads.”
Currently, we have information on the punishments people charged with DUIs face. This bill sees an increased penalty for anyone convicted of a third or subsequent DUI with a BAC of .16 or greater, any drug-related DUI, or refused to take a breathalyzer/blood test. This law would also require consecutive sentencing for these same offenders. Consecutive sentencing is where multiple prison terms are served one after the other, back to back. This raises the stakes for anyone charged with a DUI to have the best representation they can, especially as we head into the Memorial Day holiday.
Prepare for Memorial Day
On the worst holiday of the year for drunk driving, as it has been for the past few years, will see how these laws have worked to deter drunk driving. Of course, we always tell people to be safe, but should you find yourself charged with a DUI, these new laws make the punishment even more serious.
Don’t run the risk of having your rights infringed upon with Pennsylvania’s attempts to curb drunk driving. Contact our law firm right now for more information. We want to help you, we will fight for your rights.