It has been nearly a year since the Pennsylvania legislature approved a bill increasing already stiff penalties for DUI offenses. The new law went into effect on Dec. 23, 2018, and especially targets repeat offenders.
These increased penalties have potentially devastating life consequences. Whether you are facing your first conviction or a third or fourth, here is a quick overview of the new scope of Pennsylvania DUI law to help you know what to expect.
Increased prison time for DUI-related fatalities
Previously, the maximum sentence for causing a DUI-related fatality was three years in prison, whether the person convicted had prior offenses or not. By contrast, the new law specifies a minimum sentence of five years in prison for a DUI-related fatality if the convicted has a prior DUI, and a minimum of seven years if there are two or more prior DUIs.
Expanded penalties for driving with a suspended license
Before 2019, the penalty for operating a vehicle with a suspended license related to a DUI conviction was up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine. The revised law imposes increasing penalties for second and third offenses, raising maximums to a $1,000 fine and at least 90 days in jail and a $2,500 fine and up to six months in jail respectively.
Felony classification for third-offense DUIs
The biggest change in the new bill was the creation of a felony category for certain DUI offenses, whereas prior to 2019 the law categorized all DUIs misdemeanors. Classification rules now specify that a third DUI offense with a blood alcohol content of twice the legal limit (0.16%) is a felony offense, and any DUI conviction after that is a felony regardless of BAC.
Heightened scrutiny of past offenses and expanded penalties have made it more important than ever that Pennsylvanians seek experience counsel in the event of a DUI conviction. Persistence, preparation and a keen knowledge of the law are essential for negotiating the least devastating outcome possible so you can move on with your life.