People who are accused of driving under the influence in Pennsylvania have always faced penalties if they were convicted. In an effort to promote safer roadways, lawmakers and others keep pushing to make the penalties harsher and harsher.
To have a strong defense, it’s important to be knowledgeable about the new laws as they are enacted.
Fatal auto accident led to new DUI law
Pennsylvania recently enacted a new law targeting people who have multiple DUIs on their records. A collision in which a woman was killed by an intoxicated driver resulted in the state changing its laws for people who have repeat DUIs. The law will take specific DUIs and those convicted will have consecutive sentences.
If, for example, a driver refuses to submit to a breath or chemical test when asked to do so by law enforcement, this will count as one violation. The new law also takes into account those who register a blood alcohol concentration of 0.16% or higher — double the legal limit in the state. The new law also makes clear that it applies to those who have controlled substances other than alcohol in their systems.
A person who has two prior DUIs and is then convicted under one of the above criteria will face third-degree felony charges. Those convicted could be incarcerated for up to seven years.
A person with three previous DUIs can face a second-degree felony with up to 10 years in prison.
In addition, whereas the previous law had sentences that were concurrent, these would be consecutive. Notably, the American Civil Liberties Union was against this law saying the breath or chemical test provision was unfair.
New DUI penalties and criminal defense
People who have been accused of a DUI will undoubtedly understand the potential problems they will face if they are convicted. Not only might they face driver’s license suspension, fines and jail time, it can negatively impact the person’s ability to get certain jobs and cause other problems that are not considered in the immediate aftermath.
Those who have had previous DUIs were always vulnerable to enhanced penalties, but with this new law, they are much harsher and can lead to longer term problems. Although accidents with injuries and fatalities happen because of DUI and this was the catalyst to the change in the law, just because a person has been accused of DUI does not automatically mean they are guilty.
There are effective strategies to call a DUI into question. For example, law enforcement might make a mistake with the testing procedure, violate the driver’s rights with how they initiated the traffic stop or commit other violations that render the evidence inadmissible.
Regardless of the situation and how the arrest came about, those who have past DUIs must be aware of what the consequences could be with this new law and have advice and help from caring and experienced professionals who can scrutinize every aspect of the case and strive to find a workable solution as part of the criminal defense.