Every year, personal finance site WalletHub releases a detailed study regarding each state’s strictness on driving under the influence. Factors include jail time, fines, license suspensions and other consequences. What they found this year is that more and more states are cracking down on drunk drivers, forcing potential offenders to rethink their actions. As such, drunk driving fatalities fell by nearly 60 percent from 1982 to 2014.
WalletHub found that the strictest states are Arizona and Georgia. They both have minimum sentencing and stringent fines for driving under the influence. Pennsylvania, however, seems more lax on the matter. Our state ranked 48th overall. While this may seem like a good sign for drivers who do decide to get behind the wheel while intoxicated, there are more serious consequences to consider. Namely, other drivers and pedestrians are more at risk from repeat offenders.
An Overview of Pennsylvania’s Laws
If you are charged with drinking and driving, and it is your first offense, there is no minimum jail sentence. That doesn’t mean you won’t be put behind bars. It simply means a judge can sentence you to jail for a shorter amount of time than in other states (in theory). However, your second offense will land you in jail for no fewer than five days. There is no automatic license suspension, though it can be factored into your sentence. However, you will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in your car for 12 months.
The minimum fine for your first offense is $300, though other factors will contribute to the final number. Your second offense will also cost you at least $300, but you can expect to pay a higher price, depending on when your last DUI was. On average, a DUI will raise your insurance costs by about 25 percent. However, a drunk driving charge on its own will never be tried as a felony in Pennsylvania, though other factors like recklessness could make it a felony.
The only areas to rank lower than Pennsylvania were, in order: North Dakota, the District of Columbia, and South Dakota.
Dealing with a DUI
Just because the laws are not as stringent in Pennsylvania as they are in other states does not mean driving under the influence is a good idea. Almost a third of all fatal car crashes are caused by alcohol. Further, 28 people a day are killed by drunk drivers — that’s nearly 10,000 a year. From a legal standpoint, causing an accident while intoxicated, especially one that causes injury or death, can drastically increase the consequences of a DUI.
Regardless of the situation, you don’t have to face drunk driving charges on your own. If you’ve been charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania, contact Steven E. Kellis. During your free case evaluation, we will go over the details of your case and determine the best way to move forward. Don’t wait — call today.