You can avoid a lot of problems by finding a designated driver to take you home after a night of partying and drinking. But if you need any more incentive, a new Pennsylvania law that came into effect a few weeks ago may convince you to be more careful.
Prior to December 23, Pennsylvania was one of four states to classify repeat DUI convictions as misdemeanors, regardless of the number of subsequent convictions. Under to the new law, now offenders will be convicted of a felony if they reach their third DUI and if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.16 or higher. The law also mandates increased prison time if an intoxicated driver causes an accident that takes the life of another person.
In addition to these changes, under the new law, an offender who has any prior DUI convictions will face a minimum sentence of five years, rather than the old penalty of three years. If an offender has two or more prior DUIs, this sentence is increased from three years to a minimum of seven years.
The enactment of this law comes in the wake of an analysis by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that reveals that repeat offenders are responsible for almost half of all DUI-related fatalities. According to the administration, drivers with a BAC of .15 or higher were seven times more likely to have had a prior conviction for driving under the influence than motorists who weren't impaired.
Although there are always contrasting opinions about DUI laws - especially those that encourage imprisonment rather than treatment - many state residents and officials felt the law was overdue. It passed very easily in both chambers, coasting through the Senate by 45-4 vote, and through the House on a 184-1 vote. While naysayers believe that stricter penalties don't really resolve the root of the problem, supporters of the law stress that these same offenders also have the option to continue driving through a suspension if they agree to use an ignition interlock device (IID). An IID measures a motorist's BAC to prevent intoxicated people from driving their vehicles.
Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney
A significant part of being adequately prepared for your case entails seeking the help of an experienced attorney. A legal professional who defends criminal defense cases will know the ins and outs of the process and can get you on a course of action that ideally fits your needs. Attorney Joseph D. Lento brings a wealth of experience to the table, as he's successfully handled numerous cases just like yours. But most importantly, his familiarity with the overall process can be a source of comfort for you in one of the most stressful times of your life. For more information about his representation or how he can help you, contact him online or by phone today at 215-535-5353.