Pennsylvania’s legislature is looking to toughen DUI laws. State Sen. John Rafferty, R-Montgomery, is sponsoring legislation that would make it tougher for repeat offenders. It is currently awaiting consideration in the House Judiciary Committee, wrote Chris and Susan Demko in the Harrisburg Patriot-News. The Demko's lost a daughter to a drunk driver.
In short, Rafferty's bill would:
Target repeat DUI offenders who continue to drive impaired. Pennsylvania is one of only 4 states that do not classify repeat DUI offenses as a felony, regardless of an offender's prior DUI history. Rafferty's bill (SB961) would create a felony offense for DUI offenders committing their 4th DUI offense, which will have the effect of longer sentences, thereby keeping the worst offenders off the road. There are hundreds of individuals annually arrested for a 4th or greater DUI offense.
Increase penalties for repeat DUI offenders that injure and kill while driving impaired. Today a repeat DUI offender is subject to no more than a 3-year minimum sentence for Homicide by Vehicle while DUI, which is same minimum sentence for a first time DUI offender. Rafferty's bill would increase the minimum sentence to 5 years if the offender was convicted of a prior DUI, and to 7 years if the offender was convicted of 2 or more prior DUIs.
Target individuals who drive with a DUI-related suspended license. Many individuals ignore the suspension and the option to drive legally via an ignition interlock/occupational license. Studies indicate that this high-risk group is responsible for up to 20 percent of fatal DUI crashes. Currently, these offenders are only subject to a $500 fine/60-day sentence (generally served at home), regardless of prior offenses. Rafferty's bill would increase the length of sentence and fine for 2nd and 3rd offense.
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