DUI offenders pose a significant risk to others in Pennsylvania, a state in which drunk drivers are responsible for an average of one death per day. A study conducted in March, 2014 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed that one out of every four people convicted of DUI nationwide is a repeat offender. In Pennsylvania, the NHTSA found that repeat offenders represent one out of every two DUI convictions.
Weaknesses in Pennsylvania’s DUI laws have allowed too many repeat offenders to get away with minimal consequences for multiple DUI arrests; however, Pennsylvania State Senator Lloyd Smucker, R-West Lampeter Township, is seeking to change current DUI laws and has proposed legislation that would impose harsher penalties for repeat DUI offenders.
One of the biggest problems that many cite is that current Pennsylvania state laws do not allow law enforcement officers to immediately suspend a drunk driver’s license if he or she is arrested for drunk driving and fails a breathalyzer test. Driving privileges cannot be revoked until a driver is convicted of DUI in court. Repeat offenders also take advantage of loopholes in the laws which enable them to avoid progressive penalties for multiple DUI arrests prior to a conviction., Innocent victims are often seriously injured or killed by repeat DUI offenders. Senator Smucker’s proposal aims to reduce injuries and fatalities by imposing stiffer penalties on repeat drunk drivers. If adopted, his proposed legislation would require those convicted of a third DUI offense within ten years to spend two to seven years in jail. He is also calling for fines of up to $15,000 for repeat offenders. Currently fines range from $500 to $5,000. Under Smucker’s proposal, a drunk driver who causes another person’s death after incurring two previous DUI convictions within ten years would be presumed reckless and negligent and charged with third-degree murder.
Other recent proposals intended to curb drunk driving in Pennsylvania include a bill which would require mandatory ignition interlocks for first-time offenders, and proposals that would give police the authority to immediately seize the vehicles of repeat offenders and suspend the license of anyone arrested for drunk driving who refuses a breathalyzer test.
If you have been injured or have lost a loved one in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, our Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Galfand Berger will fight for your right to justice in civil court. At Galfand Berger, we believe all drunk drivers should be held accountable for the pain, loss and devastation they cause. Call us at 1-800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and find out how we can help.