Whether it is a beer at a ballgame, a round of drinks with your co-workers during happy hour, or simply relaxing at home with a glass of wine, many people in Pennsylvania are responsible drinkers. However, it is entirely possible that a person could get pulled over after even having one mere drink and accused of drunk driving. Current penalties associated with drunk driving already can result in serious consequences. However, one senator in the commonwealth wants to see an increase in the penalties a person accused of repeat drunk driving could face.
A bill has been introduced in the Pennsylvania Senate by Senator Scott Martin that would alter the penalties associated with repeat drunk driving. Currently, a person who is convicted of drunk driving twice or more in a row will serve, at a minimum, a 10-day jail sentence. Under the proposed legislation, however, a person who is convicted of drunk driving twice or more in a row will serve a prison sentence of two to seven years. In addition, this bill would make it so that if a person commits homicide while driving while intoxicated for a second time or more, that crime would be considered murder in the third degree, resulting in incarceration for 10 to 20 years.
The senator stated that in 2015 more than half of approximately 170,000 drivers in the commonwealth who were driving with a suspended license after being convicted of drunk driving ended up driving while intoxicated a second time or more. He claims the existing laws are too lenient.
As this shows, some lawmakers in Pennsylvania are doubling down on their efforts to increase the penalties for drunk driving. It is important to keep track of the penalties associated with drunk driving, as any change in them could seriously affect how those accused of drunk driving will be treated in the future. Even the current penalties in the commonwealth for drunk driving can result in unwanted consequences that could negatively affect a person's life both in the short-term and the long-term. Therefore, depending on the circumstances, it can be important to contest drunk driving charges in order to avoid a conviction and the penalties that follow it. A DUI defense attorney can help in this endeavor.
Source: The Meadville Tribune, "Bill would put repeat drunk drivers behind bars," John Finnerty, May 7, 2017