The families of 30 victims who perished in drunk driving accidents have worked with state legislators for years to increase penalties for repeat DUI offenders in Pennsylvania. On Sunday, their efforts finally came to fruition as a new law cracking down on those caught driving under the influence more than once went into effect, just in time for year-end holiday celebrations.
Those who led the effort to pass the bill hope that it will serve as a deterrent for future DUI arrests, whether because it will prevent people from driving under the influence in the first place or result in jail time for those who do, thereby keeping them off the roads.
The new law increases the penalty for each subsequent DUI arrest. For instance, driving with a blood alcohol content over 0.16 is now a felony if the driver has had two previous DUIs. There are now also additional penalties, or “add-ons,” for violations such as driving with a suspended license while also under the influence, which can result in an additional felony charge depending upon how many previous DUIs one has on one’s record. This is in contrast to the previous law, which required that a driver received three years of jail time per fatality per accident while driving under the influence.
The couple spearheading the advocacy effort lost their 18-year-old daughter in 2014 in an accident with a driver who had had multiple DUIs. With drunk driving penalties becoming more severe, those facing such charges may find it helpful to consult an attorney.