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Pennsylvania seeks to stiffen repeat DUI offender penalties

While the Keystone State does have some harsh punishments for DUI convictions such as hefty fines and jail time, it is one of the more lenient states on the controversial matter. Last year, the personal finance website WalletHub found Pennsylvania to be the 43rd strictest state on DUI laws, ultimately ranking near the bottom of the list. This is due to the state having low minimum sentences on DUI offenses and not charging an automatic felony no matter how many times the suspect did it.

With the still present threat of drunk drivers on the road, Pennsylvania lawmakers have recently proposed a bill that adds further punishment for certain types of DUI convictions. Both the House and Senate passed the bill unanimously, and now it will go to Governor Tom Wolf for signing. It primarily targets those with repeat DUI offenses, so anyone that could be facing those charges soon should learn how this new law will impact their penalties.

Automatic felony

Though the state’s charges were misdemeanors for normal DUI convictions without severe injury or vehicular manslaughter before, Senate Bill 961 seeks to change that. If the governor signs it, those who are arrested for a third time with a BAC over the legal limit of .16 percent will receive felony charges. Additionally, any subsequent arrest after the third conviction will be an automatic felony no matter how drunk the driver was. These felonies will dramatically increase how much guilty motorists will owe and how much prison time they will spend.

Vehicular manslaughter prison time

The bill also seeks to add further punishment to those guilty of killing someone on the road under the influence. Prior to the bill, the minimum prison sentence for each death the motorist caused was three years. The bill not only increases that number to five, but the state will also enforce seven years if the driver has a previous DUI conviction.

The state hopes that these newer charges will decrease the number of repeat offenders on the road, as many that were responsible for drunk driving accidents before already had a conviction just months before they were on the road. As the state gets harder on DUI convictions, you need to seek a defense attorney that can be equally as tough to help you minimize or erase potential penalties that could ruin your life in the near future.

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