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Critics Wonder if Pennsylvania Needs Tougher DUI Laws

As many states across the nation begin to focus on reducing the prevalence of impaired driving due to both alcohol and drugs, critics of Pennsylvania’s laws say the state is not doing enough to punish people convicted of driving under the influence (DUI).

One of the points of contention for these critics is that in Pennsylvania, no matter how many DUI convictions a person has on his or her record, the crime never becomes a felony — just a severe misdemeanor that comes with increased penalties with each conviction.

Last August, a WalletHub study found that Pennsylvania is the fourth-most lenient state in the nation when it comes to DUI laws.

Potential solutions on the table

There are several solutions these critics have proposed to make the state’s DUI laws tougher on offenders. Some say giving prosecutors the ability to confiscate motor vehicles from repeat offenders could help deter multiple offenses. Critics would also like to see the state invest more money in rehabilitation for first-time DUI offenders so they do not become habitual offenders.

Another potential solution, supported by York County Common Pleas Court Judge John S. Kennedy, is to increase the maximum sentence for any first-time offenders who have a blood alcohol content level of more than 0.16 percent — twice the current legal limit. The existing maximum sentence in such cases is six months in prison. Additionally, Judge Kennedy proposes implementing around-the-clock monitoring programs for extreme abusers and addicts to help them stay sober.

There were some changes to the law made in 2016, when Governor Tom Wolf signed a bill that requires some convicted DUI offenders to install ignition interlock systems in their vehicles. That law goes into effect in August.

If you are facing impaired driving charges in Pennsylvania, it’s important to work with skilled legal counsel who helps you assert your constitutional rights. For further guidance, consult experienced Reading DUI defense lawyer David R. Eshelman.


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