The new DUI law increases the penalty from a misdemeanor offense to a felony for some drunk driving offenses

Alfonso Gambone
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A Philadelphia criminal defense attorney representing accused persons throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

PA DUI law is going to change!  


Pennsylvania is about to increase the penalties for drunk driving (driving under the influence – DUI). While the new law under Title 75 § 3802(c) will not affect the majority of those arrested for drunk driving in the Commonwealth, it will drastically change things for those who fall under it. Right now, an individual who commits a 3rd drunk driving offense within 10 years, faces a conviction for a misdemeanor of the 1st degree which carries with it a maximum of 5 years in prison, a mandatory minimum 18 month license suspension, and a 1 year mandatory minimum state prison sentence.  


The new law however, under this section, increases the penalty from a misdemeanor offense to a felony for 3rd time DUI conviction within 10 years if the 3rd offense involves a blood alcohol content of .16 or higher. The law also makes a 4th DUI offense in 10 years a felony regardless of a person’s BAC. Right now, a 4th offense DUI is a misdemeanor of the 1st degree where one’s BAC is .16 or higher, a misdemeanor of the 2nd degree where the BAC is between .08 to .099, a misdemeanor of the 1st degree where the BAC is between .10 to .159, and a misdemeanor of the 2nd degree for general impairment DUI under Section 3802(a)(1). 


Homicide By DUI – Increased Mandatory Minimum Sentence 


The new law also increases the penalties for homicide by vehicle (75 § 3735) while DUI which is currently a 3 year mandatory minimum sentence regardless of the offenders DUI history. The new law increases the mandatory minimum to 5 years where a person has no DUI history and 7 years where a person has 2 or more prior DUI. 


How many could this new DUI law actually affect? 


Right now there are over one million DUI offenders within the Commonwealth who are subject to these new DUI laws and it is estimated that 25,000 - 30,000 will fall within the category every year. It is estimated that drunk driving caused the deaths of at least 11,000 in 2016 and 2017 and this was the driving force behind the enactment of these increased penalties. These new penalties create an even further difference between drunk driving in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Right now, non-injury or death related drunk driving in New Jersey is still considered a traffic offense while aggravated assault while DUI or homicide while DUI are felony offenses in the Garden State. 


For more information on drunk driving I encourage you to visit my blog or my free download section and download a free copy of my book. 

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