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Pennsylvania Lawmakers Toughen State’s DUI Penalties

After years of receiving criticism about Pennsylvania’s relative weakness in the area of driving under the influence (DUI) enforcement, state legislators passed a bill in October that would impose stricter penalties on repeat offenders.

The legislation is Senate Bill 961. It is expected to levy harsher penalties on those convicted of DUI starting in 2019. It has the support of both Democrats and Republicans, along with Gov. Tom Wolf.

What’s behind the measure?

Before the passage of this bill, Pennsylvania was one of just four states that did not treat multiple DUIs as felonies. Under the new law, which received substantial support from both parties, there are new guidelines for how repeat offenses will be prosecuted and punished in the state.

Felony offenses will apply to anyone “with a third conviction of driving with at least twice the legal limit of alcohol in their system and for anyone with fourth DUI convictions.” While advocates had been pushing for lower thresholds for felony charges, there were some compromises that had to be made for the bill to pass in this session.

The new law also implements harsher penalties for DUI resulting in deaths, including longer jail sentences and larger fines. It also adds harsher penalties for people who continue driving on suspended licenses after being convicted for DUI.

The consequences for a DUI conviction have always been tough, but they are about to get even tougher in Pennsylvania. For further guidance when you’re facing drunk driving charges, meet with skilled Reading criminal defense attorney David R. Eshelman.


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