Pennsylvania law makers are trying to make the laws a little stricter for drivers in the state who are convicted of impaired driving offenses. According to ABC News 27, House Bill 1441 would create a Pennsylvania Habitual DUI Offender Registry. A second bill, House Bill 1439, would also create a Persons Not to Consume Alcohol Database.
These two bills together, if passed, would significantly curtail the rights of people with past convictions even after they have served their time. An effective DWI defense to try to avoid conviction would become even more essential for those facing arrest because of the increased consequences that the new bills would usher in.
Two Bills Aim to Make Life Harder After a DWI Conviction
The Habitual DUI Offender Registry proposed under House Bill 1441 would require motorists to register if they are convicted of five or more DUIs within 20 years prior to enactment. Defendants accused of both driving under the influence and boating under the influence would be required to register.
The Persons Not to Consume Alcohol Database under House Bill 1439 would use the list of habitual DUI defendants to establish a database of people who should be denied alcohol purchases. State liquor store employees would refer to the list and refuse to allow habitual DUI offenders to buy alcoholic beverages. In order to make sure no one on the list was illegally purchasing something to drink, everyone buying alcohol at a state store would be required to give ID to the clerk. The clerk could then check for the name of the purchaser in the database to determine if he was a habitual offender. There would also be a mechanism for people in recovery to exclude themselves from buying alcohol at state stores.
If the bills pass, drunk driving defendants who have been convicted, served their time and complied with all court requirements would carry the label of offender and would have their legal rights affected even after their involvement with the criminal justice systems should be finished. It is a serious infringement on a person's rights to say he can never again buy alcohol in a store because he had drunk driving convictions in his past.
It remains to be seen what will happen to the bills and whether they will become law. Lawmakers may be feeling pressure to make life harder for drunk driving defendants in PA after news came out that Pennsylvania was the third most lenient state when it comes to drunk driving penalties.
As Patch reports, the two primary factors making PA's penalties less strict were the fact that there is only a 25 percent increase in insurance after a conviction (compared with other states where premiums increased as much as 103 percent) and the fact that there is no provision to make DUI an automatic felony no matter how many past convictions a person has.
While PA may be lenient relative to other states, there are still serious consequences for conviction, including a five day minimum jail sentence for a second offense. If the new bills pass, the consequences of a DUI will become even more far-reaching for those convicted.