In Pennsylvania, a DUI is not a felony. It’s a misdemeanor not just for a first offense, but for anything after that. This means that a person with a dozen previous convictions could get arrested and only face misdemeanor charges.

Most states do not follow this model. Just four of them have endless misdemeanors, including Pennsylvania, while the rest eventually switch over to felony charges that come with strict sentences.

A new bill, if it succeeds, would change the state laws so that Pennsylvania falls into the latter category, rather than the former. After an overwhelming 45-4 Senate victory, the House will now have a chance to vote on it.

If it passes, a DUI will become a felony if it is a third conviction in a span of just ten years. A person with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.16 percent or more, for a third offense, would also face felony charges. On top of that, anyone facing a fourth arrest would get felony charges, even with a BAC under 0.16 and if those previous convictions were more than a decade ago.

The bill does not stop there. The penalties would also increase for things like causing a deadly accident, driving on a suspended license because of another DUI and committing aggravated assault with a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

These are huge changes, representing a potential overhaul of the state’s DUI laws. It is very important for those living in Pittsburgh and all across the state to keep an eye on the bill so that they fully understand their rights.

Source: Daily Local News, “State Senate bill would increase penalties for repeat DUI offenders,” Ginger Dunbar, April 21, 2018