Legislation in Pennsylvania is changing the driving landscape. How, you might ask? By upping the ante with the punishment for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. We all know that drinking and driving is a mistake that we don’t want to make, but did you know that our lawmakers have passed new legislation that went into effect in December 2018? That brings up two basic questions: what is changing and how will the changes impact your life?
Changes to Local DUI Laws
It’s important for Pennsylvania residents to know what is actually changing. The primary change to the DUI law in our state is the penalty for repeat offenses. It doesn’t apply to the first offense or the second offense. When legislators describe a high-risk individual in DUI cases, they mean people who have prior convictions and have repeated their actions at least three times.
The first change to the law is in the terminology. If someone gets a DUI three times, it’s now considered a felony offense. This applies in cases where someone was injured or killed by the driver or in cases where the police have previously pulled the individual over. In previous years, DUI convictions were not classified as a felony, regardless of the number of times an individual was charged with drinking and driving.
The second change is the punishment for the death of another person resulting from driving under the influence. If someone gets into an accident while intoxicated and it causes someone’s death, they will have a minimum sentence of five years for a first DUI offense and a minimum of seven years if it’s a repeat offense.
The goal of changing the law focuses on improving safety on the roads throughout Pennsylvania. While the first change may not seem important, it’s a significant adjustment. It means that the driver will have a felony charge on their record rather than a misdemeanor. The penalties vary according to the laws broken in each case, but generally they are heavier for DUI-related charges too. For example, running a red light while intoxicated may result in higher fines and fees.
Potential Impact on Your Life
You are probably wondering: how will this impact your life? If someone you know has a previous conviction for drinking and driving, this law may affect them because it applies to repeat offenders. He or she will likely face more severe penalties and actual jail time if convicted of a third DUI. You should explain the risks to family members or loved ones if you have concerns about risky behavior. Explain that the consequences will increase with each conviction and that it’s always better to reach out for a ride if they have been drinking.
How it Helps Protect Your Vehicle & Family
The goal of the new legislation for DUIs in Pennsylvania is designed to protect the public. The clear intended impact is that it increases the punishment for repeat offenders. That will mean fewer drivers who have prior convictions for a DUI on the roads. In the case of DUI convictions that relate to death from an accident, the driver involved in the accident will spend more time in jail.
These recently tightened laws are also meant to protect your vehicle by reducing the number of accidents that relate to drunk driving. While it may not prevent every collision or situation leading up to a crash, it does reduce the risk of a major accident due to risky driving behaviors from a third party.
Only time will tell if Pennsylvania’s new laws for DUI convictions will have the positive impact lawmakers expect. You should be aware that the changes went into effect in December of 2018 and will continue to apply to new convictions in the state. While you can always take measures to stay safe when you are behind the wheel, it helps when other drivers are also encouraged to follow the rules.
Get more information about Tips for Avoiding a Collision and Replacing Car Seats After an Accident.
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