New Pennsylvania Law (Deana’s Law) Increases Penalties for Repeat DUI Offenders
Anyone charged with driving under the influence (DUI) offense faces severe criminal penalties. However, with the enactment of Deana’s Law, the consequences for repeat DUI offenders in Pennsylvania are even more devastating.
What Is Deana’s Law?
In 2019, a woman named Deana Eckman from Brookhaven, PA, was hit by a drunk driver in Newtown Square. She ultimately passed away from fatal injuries. Upon the driver’s arrest, it was discovered that the man who hit her had five prior DUI convictions on his record. Since then, the woman’s parents have worked to get Deana’s Law passed.
Enacted in July 2022, the laws surrounding driving under the influence (DUI) have been amended under the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code. According to Act 59, there are specific changes to how DUI offenses are graded and the penalties those convicted face.
What Are the Increased Penalties Repeat DUI Offenders Could Face?
Deana’s law states that someone who commits a DUI and refuses a breath or chemical test, has a BAC of .16 or higher, or commits a DUI involving a controlled substance can face increased penalties if they have two or more prior offenses. The penalties you face depend on how many previous DUIs you were convicted of.
Two or More Prior Offenses
Anyone convicted of a DUI with two or more prior offenses can be charged with a third-degree felony, resulting in a maximum of seven years in the Pennsylvania state prison. This offense also results in up to $15,000 in fines.
Three or More Prior Offenses
If you have been charged with three or more prior DUI offenses, your maximum prison time can increase from seven to ten years as a second-degree felony. Additionally, you can expect fines of up to $25,000.
You may also face increased license suspension or revocation times, be ordered to complete community service, attend a driver retraining program, and pay fines and restitution to any victims in your case.
Other Consequences of a DUI Conviction in PA
It is not only the increased penalties of Deana’s Law that you need to be worried about if you are convicted of a DUI. There are several other criminal penalties and collateral consequences that could be at risk as well. Some of these consequences include:
- Being ordered to complete a drug or alcohol treatment program
- Being declared ineligible for a hardship license
- Abstaining from drug or alcohol use
- Agreeing to regular drug or alcohol testing
- Completing group therapy or mental health counseling
- Completing a specified number of community service hours
- Being ordered to complete a driver retraining program
- Paying restitution to any victims in your case
- Installing an ignition interlock device (IID) at your own expense
You may be eligible for expungement if you complete the Pennsylvania Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. However, if you can avoid a conviction by obtaining a plea agreement, entering a pretrial diversion program, or securing an acquittal, these are almost certainly a better option.
Get Help from a DUI Lawyer in Pennsylvania Today
With Deana’s Law in place, the consequences will be more severe if you are convicted of multiple DUI offenses. It has never been more important to take your drunk driving charges seriously.
With help from an experienced Pennsylvania DUI lawyer at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC, you can prepare a powerful defense or work with the prosecutor to obtain a plea bargain so you can move forward with your life.