(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — Pennsylvania drivers who choose to get behind the wheel while under the influence may now face increased penalties courtesy of a new Pennsylvania law.
According to a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) news release, “Deana’s Law” (Act 59 of 2022) has amended the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code. (Deana Eckman was killed in a vehicle crash in 2019 by a six-time DUI offender.) The law has increased the “grading” for certain DUI offences, requiring consecutive sentencing for certain repeat DUI offenders and imposing an 18-month driving privilege suspension for a DUI conviction graded as a felony of the second degree.
Under the new law, a person charged with DUI who already has prior offenses and who refuses a breath or chemical test or is charged with DUI with a BAC of .16 or higher, or DUI involving controlled substances commits a felony of the third-degree for two prior offenses, or a felony of the second-degree for three or more prior offenses.
A felony of the third degree faces a maximum sentence of up to seven years in prison. A felony of the second degree faces a maximum sentence of up to 10 years.
The sentences imposed on a person with two or more prior offenses also will be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed by the court, except for violations that are required to be merged, the announcement noted. There also may be sentencing enhancement in cases of individuals who have four or more prior DUI offenses.
“Driving impaired puts everyone at risk, and repeat offenders disregard the risk they pose every time they get behind the wheel impaired,” said Maj. Robert Krol, director of the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Patrol. “This law enhances penalties for those individuals, and hopefully they will think twice before reoffending.”