Police Chief Uses Facebook to Call for Tougher DUI Laws in PA
Following a DUI crash that killed two people in early January, Newberry Township Police Chief John Snyder posted a lengthy message on Facebook lamenting that “bodies are piling up,” and urging Pennsylvania lawmakers to pass stricter DUI laws. According to ABC27 News, Snyder’s “social media rant” cited a study claiming Pennsylvania’s DUI laws are among the worst in the country.
Asked to comment, Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman admitted he is “tired of seeing the innocent people getting killed,” and admitted there is “no question” about the need for a more serious approach to DUI cases. Steadman says one area in need of improvement is repeat offenders, claiming that the consequences of a repeat DUI in Pennsylvania are not enough to deter people.
- Stephen Ernie, executive director of the Pennsylvania DUI Association, would like to see DUI treated “as a very serious public health issue.” State Representative Keith Greiner (R, Lancaster) has plans to introduce a repeat DUI offender felony bill.
Currently, sentencing for a second-offense DUI depends on the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC):
- The mandatory minimum sentence for a standard DUI (BAC from .08 to .099) is from five days to six months in county jail; a 12-month driver’s license suspension; a fine up to $2,500; and installation of an ignition interlock device for the first year after driving privileges are restored.
- The mandatory minimum sentence for a second-offense middle tier DUI (BAC of .10 to .159) is from 30 days to six months in county jail; a fine up to $5,000; a 12-month driver’s license suspension; and ignition interlock for the first year of restored driving privileges.
- The mandatory minimum sentence for a second-offense highest tier DUI (BAC .16 and higher, or any illegal drug, with or without alcohol) is incarceration from 90 days to five years; a fine of up to $10,000; an 18-month driver’s license suspension; and ignition interlock for the first year of restored driving privileges.
Elevating a repeat DUI to felony status could allow for considerably more jail time, or it could simply take away a judge’s discretion on the low end of the range of sentences. We’ll have to wait for Rep. Greiner to present his legislation, but motorists in Pennsylvania should be aware that the current sentiment among public officials could persuade judges to adopt stricter sentencing under existing law. So, a repeat DUI offender who goes into court thinking he’ll only spend a few days in county jail could be looking at a stretch of many months.
David R. Eshelman defends motorists from DUI charges in the Reading area. If you are charged with driving under the influence, protect your rights by meeting with criminal defense attorney David R. Eshelman today.