New law makes harsher penalties for DUI

Drivers across Pennsylvania should take notice of a new law that has gone into effect increasing punishments for first-time DUI offenders. According to WITF, Pennsylvania will join the ranks of 48 other states that mandate ignition interlock devices be installed on the vehicles of those convicted of drunk driving.

The devices, which require a driver to blow into a breathalyzer test before the car can start, were previously only required in the state for repeat offenders. The system has shown to provide a significant decrease in drunk driving. If the device detects any alcohol at all, the car will not start, and the test data will be stored. The devices must be paid for by the driver convicted of DUI, and they cost between $900 and $1,300. Any driver who is found to have a blood-alcohol level of .10 or above will be required to use an ignition interlock system, as well as drivers who refuse the alcohol test.

In addition to the mandated ignition interlocks for first-time offenders, the law also has created a class of driver's licenses that specifies the driver has a DUI on his or her record. The bill was sponsored by state senators Scott Martin and John Rafferty, who also want to put in place mandatory minimum sentences for DUI convictions, as well as increase penalties against drunk drivers who cause a death.

As PAhomepage reports, Shane Scanlon, District Attorney for Lackawanna County, stated that nearly a quarter of all prosecutions the went through his office were DUI-related. Of those cases, about 25 percent were repeat DUI offenders.

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