New Pennsylvania DUI Laws Target First-Time Offenders
The state of Pennsylvania recently enacted new rules on how it penalizes first-time offenders who have been convicted of driving under the influence (DUI). As of August, the state has a new ignition interlock law, making first-time offenders eligible to have an ignition interlock system installed in their vehicle.
Previously, these drivers could only have had their licenses suspended for one year. The new law allows people to hold on to their licenses, but helps ensure they will remain sober while behind the wheel. Generally, first-time offenders must use the device for at least one year.
Ignition interlock devices hook directly into the vehicle’s ignition. Drivers blow into a tube before turning on their cars. If the device detects a level of alcohol in the driver’s system, the vehicle will not start.
More states initiating ignition interlock device laws
Ignition interlock devices have become increasingly common throughout the United States. Statistics indicate they are making the roads safer in the states in which they are used.
These statistics have been analyzed in detail locally in Pennsylvania. In 2016, for example, the Lackawanna County District Attorney’s office looked at its caseload and noticed that about 25 percent of the cases the office prosecuted were DUIs — and about 25 percent of those cases involved repeat offenders. The numbers indicate people who are forced to use ignition interlock devices are much less likely to become repeat offenders in the future.
In theory, this would decrease the number of cases officers must take on related to DUI, allowing them to focus on other aspects of public safety. The downside is that the devices cost hundreds of dollars to install and monitor, and they’re also extremely sensitive. With the new law, almost all offenders will be required to use them and pay for their installation.
For more information on the various penalties associated with DUI in Pennsylvania, speak with experienced Berks County criminal defense lawyer David R. Eshelman.