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Lancaster Activists Push for Changes to Pennsylvania DUI Law

A Lancaster couple has come to the forefront of potential driving under the influence (DUI) reform in Pennsylvania, acting on behalf of all families in the state who have lost a loved one to drunk driving. Chris and Susan Demko lost their 18-year-old daughter in July 2014 to a driver who was reportedly under the influence of heroin and alcohol.

According to the Demkos and other activists, current laws in the state do not go far enough when it comes to DUI. Currently, a convicted first offender receives up to six months of probation and a $300 fine if one’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is tested between .08 and .099 percent. For a BAC between .10 and .159 percent, convicted first offenders receive between two days and six months in prison, a fine between $500 and $5,000, and a 12-month driver’s license suspension. For a BAC above .16 percent, convicted first offenders face 3 days to six months in prison, a fine between $1,000 and $5,000, and a 12-month license suspension

Craig Stedman of the Lancaster County District Attorney’s office says that a suspended license is essentially a joke of a penalty, and that potential punishments must be vastly increased —  especially for repeat offenders. He recommends that repeat offenses become automatic felony charges. In Pennsylvania, a person could have many DUIs, but not be charged with a felony unless he or she kills or injures someone.

Potential legislation on the horizon

Recently, the state’s House Transportation Committee approved legislation that would require all first-time offenders to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle. This device is used to test drivers’ BAC levels before they are able to start their cars. Other bills are also under consideration to tighten some of rules pertaining to DUI convictions.

Being charged with DUI in Pennsylvania is a serious issue. To learn more about your rights and options, work with dedicated Reading drunk driving defense lawyer David R. Eshelman.

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