New Bill to Toughen Pennsylvania Repeat Offender DUI Laws
Up to this point, you would not be charged with a felony if you were convicted of a DUI in Pennsylvania. Legislation recently voted on by the Pennsylvania state Congress will change that. A bill that received final votes from both legislative chambers last month will increase the prescribed penalty for people with multiple DUIs. While a repeat offender DUI has always carried harsher punishments than those doled out to first-time offenders, those punishments were further increase under the new law. The increased penalties will also apply in certain situations where the driver was excessively intoxicated, or caused someone else’s death.
If you’re facing a DUI, it’s a good idea to discuss your case with a lawyer. DUIs are costly, and the penalties may affect your life long after the offense. To review your Pennsylvania DUI with an experienced attorney, contact Worgul, Sarna & Ness Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC. There are a significant number of reasons that a DUI charge can be reduced or even dismissed. Our lawyers have the knowledge of the law required to put together your best possible defense. Schedule a free consultation via our online contact form, or by calling (412) 281-2146 today.
New Laws Will Establish First DUI Felony in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is no stranger to the problems drunk driving causes. Officials estimate that 10,000 alcohol-related crashes occur annually in Pennsylvania. Those crashes cause roughly 300 casualties. Some attribute these numbers to the fact that Pennsylvania’s DUI laws have always been considered lenient. Previously, the most severe DUI charge in Pennsylvania was a misdemeanor. Your third DUI offense, where your blood alcohol content was between .1% and .159%, would previously have landed you with a first-degree misdemeanor. Similarly, your second DUI conviction with a BAC over .16%, or while any controlled substance, was a misdemeanor of the first degree. While the classification of your DUI remains the same with a BAC under .16%, repeatedly breaking that threshold now carries more severe consequences. Your third DUI conviction, with a BAC of .16% or higher, is a felony. Up to this point, Pennsylvania was one of very few states not to treat repeat DUI as a felony.
New Laws Also Increase Penalties for Other Offenses
In addition to the increased classification of repeat DUIs, the new legislation allows for harsher penalties in certain other scenarios. For example, the previous minimum sentence for homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence was three years, regardless of the perpetrators record. The new legislation makes adjustments for previous convictions; if you have a DUI on your record already, your minimum sentence for a DUI causing death is five years. If you have two previous DUI convictions on your record, that minimum increases to seven years. These are not even the harshest of possible consequences; if your license was suspended or revoked at the time your DUI resulted in someone’s death, an additional five years can be added to your sentence. Along with increased minimum incarceration, previous convictions are also likely to encourage a judge to increase the amount you have to pay in fines.
Discuss Your Pennsylvania DUI With a Lawyer Today
Speaking to a DUI attorney may help resolve any question you have regarding the new DUI laws in Pennsylvania. For assistance with your Pittsburgh DUI case, contact Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC . If you have previous DUIs on your record, than another conviction could leave you in an even tighter bind than you expect. Our lawyers have the legal know-how to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. Each situation is unique, so don’t delay. Call (412) 281-2146 or fill out the online contact form to schedule your free consultation with a Pennsylvania DUI lawyer.