New Bill Would Increase Penalties for Repeat DUIs

Evening light on the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

A new bill has been introduced in the Pennsylvania Senate that would increase penalties for those who are repeat offenders for driving under the influence. Under the proposed Senate Bill 635, introduced by Senator Scott Martin (R-Lancaster), drivers who are convicted of more than two DUIs within 10 years would be punished by no less than two years in prison.

In addition, there would be a maximum fine of $15,000. In addition, a repeat offender who causes the death of someone else while driving under the influence could be charged with third degree murder instead of vehicular homicide.

This bill was introduced, according to Sen. Scott Martin, because the state’s current laws regarding repeat DUI offenders are too lax and ineffective.

“We have seen far too many tragedies in which innocent citizens have been victimized by the recklessness of others,” Martin said. “We need to make sure repeat offenders face a punishment that matches the dangerous nature of the crime.”

More About the Bill

Senate Bill 635 was proposed after a series of car wrecks caused by repeat DUI offenders. According to the official memorandum regarding the bill, over 50 percent of drivers in Pennsylvania who had their license suspended due to driving under the influence were repeat offenders. According to Sen. Martin, this is a serious problem that is not effectively handled under current law.

A similar bill was introduced during the 2015-2016 Senate Regular Session, but never made it to a vote. Senate Bill 635  is currently referred to the Judiciary committee. This committee will decide whether or not to move forward with the bill. If they decide to not move forward, the bill will effectively be dead. The next Judiciary meeting is scheduled for mid-May.

Pennsylvania’s Current Law

Under Pennsylvania’s current laws, a first offense DUI requires no minimum jail time. There is a $300 fine, and no license suspension. On the second DUI, a conviction leads to jail time of five days to six months. Fines range from $300 to $2,500, and the offender’s license is suspended for 12 months. Finally, any third and subsequent offense is punishable by 10 days to two years in jail, a fine of $500 to $5,000 and a license suspension of 12 months.

The punishments actually handed down are also determined by the driver’s blood alcohol content. The higher the BAC, the worse the consequences. However, even for a low BAC first offense, a conviction can have massive ramifications. It may become much more difficult to find employment, rent an apartment or even go to college. As such, it is vital to have an experienced attorney by your side if you are charged with driving under the influence.

If you are arrested for DUI in Pennsylvania, whether it’s your first arrest or your fifth, don’t fight it on your own. Call Steven E. Kellis today for a free, no-obligation consultation. We will review the facts of your case and help you plan your next course of action.